Can Pre-workout Cause Eczema On the Skin? (Explained)

January 10, 2024 |

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Key Highlights:
  • Not all pre-workouts cause or worsen eczema.
  • Only those with ingredients like beta-alanine, niacin, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners can cause dryness, tingling, and flushing on the skin.
  • Dermatitis or eczema patients are advised to look out for the presence of these components.

While working out with dry and sensitive skin conditions like dermatitis is challenging enough on its own, using a pre-workout to boost performance can sometimes add to the existing agony.

My thoughts about this were, “only if we could identify the underlying cause and what triggers an allergic reaction, using pre-workouts without any discomfort could be a piece of cake.” And so, I started looking into the ingredients and found the culprits!

I have shared my findings on them in this article below, plus all you need to know about using pre-workouts if you have eczema or contact dermatitis.

Is Pre-workout Bad For Skin?

No, not all pre-workouts, but those with caffeine, beta-alanine, and niacin may have negative effects on the skin.

Following is a bit of a scientific breakdown of their reactions on the skin:

1. Niacin may cause skin flush

Niacin is a B-complex vitamin often added to pre-workouts as it increases the nutrient supply to muscles and improves oxygen kinetics by causing dilation of blood vessels.

However, the sudden boost in blood supply leads to agitation and redness of the skin. This skin flush is especially notable in the neck region and may be associated with tingling and irritation in the whole body.

A study infers that this skin flush is actually an immune response produced by G-protein-coupled receptors in skin cells.

This response to niacin is natural, harmless, and often used as a diagnostic test for immune disorders.

2. Beta-alanine may cause tingling sensations

ß-alanine is a supplement famous for promoting muscular growth, strength, and endurance. Its effects on energy metabolism account for enhanced fatigue resistance.

But it also activates G-protein coupled receptors in the skin, resulting in itchiness. Or It may cause mild paresthesia, a skin condition marked by redness and tingling.

Though further research is required to elaborate on the exact mechanism yet, its effect on mechanosensitive neurons in the skin is established.

3. Caffeine can dry out your skin

Most pre-workouts contain caffeine in varied proportions. It is an energy booster that motivates you to work out and helps you stay focused once you start off.

It does not cause any direct reaction on the skin but can be an underlying reason for the dryness and acne.

As described in this research, it induces diuresis, a condition in which kidneys produce urine frequently, and a large amount of water is lost.

When accompanied by water loss during the workout through sweating, it may lead to dehydration and make skin dry and rough. And dryness gives birth to many skin problems, including acne, rashes, and sebum production.

Moreover, it is known to decrease the absorption of magnesium that is needed to resist skin inflammation; hence, it may result in agitating reactions

4. Artificial sweeteners can trouble acne-prone skin

Pre-workouts are flavored with artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, etc. These synthetic compounds may also affect the skin adversely.

Aspartame is an artificial sugar that is known to increase insulin resistance. Similar results were found for sucralose in a controlled trial conducted in 2018.

And research has proven the association of insulin resistance with skin troubles like acne and lesions.

Can Pre-workout Cause Dry Skin?

Pre-workouts with caffeine in higher proportions may cause dryness.

Being a diuretic, caffeine can make you urinate more frequently. Usually, this condition would not cause dehydration if your intake is less than 400mg per day, and most pre-workouts have up to 150 – 300 mg of caffeine.

But if you consume pre-workout more than once a day and are also a coffee lover, your total caffeine intake would cross the safe threshold and result in dehydration and dryness of the skin.

Also, pre-workouts will energize you to perform intensive and longer training, and you will sweat a lot. So collectively, you will lose more water and may get dehydrated, and the condition will manifest itself as dry and itchy skin.

Can Pre-workout Cause Eczema?

No, pre-workout supplements will not cause eczema. But if you already have the problem, it can add to your trouble, as pre-workouts containing beta-alanine, niacin, or caffeine can intensify itching and dryness.

Eczema is primarily caused due to genetic setup, and various environmental factors like temperature, friction, lack of humidity, and irritants can induce its onset. However, the fact that it may cause eczema is not backed by scientific evidence yet.

Also read: Why Does Pre-workout Make You Itchy?

FAQs on Pre-workout and Ezcema

Can I exercise with contact dermatitis?

Yes, you can work out even if you have contact dermatitis.

With contact eczema, your skin shows an allergic response when it comes in touch with other objects.

In this situation, it may not be possible to exercise using gym equipment due to rash stimulation, but you can opt for bodyweight exercises or aerobic training in which you don’t need to touch anything.

However, you should work out in small intervals to keep your body cool and calm.

Can sweat cause eczema?

Yes, sweat can induce eczema flare-ups.

Sweating will make your skin lose fluids, eventually contributing to dryness. Likewise, precipitation will leave salt residues on your skin that may trigger inflammation or tingling.
To avoid a flare-up, remember to keep a towel or wipes with you to remove the salt layer over the skin and hydrate yourself periodically to compensate for water loss.

Can you exercise with eczema?

Yes, it is possible to exercise with eczema.

Although it is troublesome for people with dermatitis to work out as a warmed-up body, sweating and chafing all tend to increase itchiness and flushing.

But with few precautions, eczematic people can also exercise to fulfill their fitness goals;

  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dryness.
  • Take periodic breaks to lower your body temperature.
  • Exercise in a shady place.
  • Use a moisturizing cream to reduce friction.
  • Wear soft, breathable clothes.
  • Wipe off sweat during a workout and take a cold shower afterward

Final Takeaways

Briefly speaking, yes, some pre-workouts can irritate the skin and worsen eczema.

Now, most of the ingredients in pre-workouts do not cause any skin problems, but there are a few common ones that may cause itch or dryness. Such supplements can increase eczematic irritation and flushing; thus, these should be completely avoided by individuals suffering from dermatitis.

Nonetheless, they can safely use supplementary products without such stimulants and work out by taking a few prevention measures beforehand to avoid a flare-up.

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