Does Exercise Worsen Dry Skin?

Learn about how exercise affects sensitive skin in rosacea and eczema

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Dry, itchy skin, can be bothersome and impact daily activities.[1] Exercise is an important lifestyle factor that can establish a foundation for health.[2] Below is a look at the connection between exercise and sensitive dry skin in eczema and rosacea.

 

Exercise Intensity and Sensitive Skin Conditions

Sweating is an aggravating factor for eczema patients because it makes their skin itch more.[1] Patients with eczema may not engage in physical activity to avoid worsening of their symptoms.[1] Choosing to not exercise could potentially put eczema patients at risk for obesity and heart disease.[3,4] The intensity at which the exercise is done may determine the severity of the symptoms.[3,5]

 

Vigorous Intensity Exercise

Vigorous intensity exercise is defined as three or more metabolic equivalents or METs.[6] One MET is the amount of oxygen the body uses when it is sitting at rest.[6] An example of vigorous physical activity is running.[6]

Eczema

Vigorous physical activity may aggravate eczema symptoms.[3] In a questionnaire of one-hundred patients with eczema, 97% said that sweating made their skin itch worse.[7] A study looking at mice saw that with high-intensity swimming exercises, the mice were more likely to experience a worsening of their symptoms.[8] 

Rosacea

Strenuous exercise is a trigger for rosacea patients.[9] Patients with erythematotelangiectatic rosacea find physical exercise in the form of “carrying and lifting” leads to worsening of their rosacea symptoms.[10] In order for more blood to get to the muscles and tissues in exercise, blood vessels have to expand.[11] The enlarged blood vessels naturally cause a flushing of the face.[11] Physical activity can cause a worsening of the facial redness of rosacea patients due to the natural widening of the blood vessels, along with the inflammatory nature of rosacea.[10,11] Exercise can also cause a burning or stinging pain in the face of rosacea patients.[12] Blood vessels become leakier in rosacea which allows more blood flow to face also causing the flushing.[12]

 

Light Intensity Exercise

Light exercise is defined as less than three METs, where one MET is the amount of oxygen that is being consumed when sitting quietly in a room.[6] Examples of light exercise are walking and gardening.[13]

Eczema

Lower intensity workouts may not be associated with aggravating dry, itchy skin.[5] Children who had been swimming one or more times a week did not see a worsening of their eczema symptoms.[5] Another study that looked at individuals who had been exercising regularly, but not necessarily at a high intensity, had a lower incidence of eczema in general.[14]

 

Environmental Factors for Outdoor Exercise and Sensitive Skin Conditions

Eczema

Independent from the intensity of exercise, the location where the exercise takes place, may contribute to eczema symptoms.[15,16] If the exercise takes place outside, there may be other factors that can make eczema worse, such as air pollutants and weather.[15,16] Working out in warmer temperatures may aggravate the symptoms of eczema by increasing the amount of sweating which causes the skin to become more irritated and itchy.[15] 

Rosacea

UVB radiation could cause worsening of rosacea symptoms.[17] Being in warm environments can increase the facial redness associated with rosacea.[18] Cooler temperatures were marked in surveys to relieve the irritation of rosacea and constant flushing of the face.[18] 

Table 1: Summary of Aggravating and Non-Aggravating Factors in Eczema and Rosacea

Factor

Eczema

Rosacea

Vigorous Intensity Exercise

Aggravating[3]

Aggravating[9]

Light Intensity Exercise

Non-aggravating[5]

Unclear

Heat

Aggravating[15]

Aggravating[18]

Cold

Unclear

Non-aggravating[18]

Pollution

Aggravating[15]

Unclear

 

Take an Individualized Approach

Although exercise aids in increasing quality of life, and potentially decrease depression in patients with eczema,[16] there are many factors that are involved, which can vary widely. The severity of the eczema is one of the biggest factors that determine the level of exercise that can be performed comfortably.[19] The intensity of the exercise may also play a role, as well as potential irritants, temperature,[15] and pollutants in the environment.[3,5,7,8,14-16] An individualistic approach needs to be completed to determine the extent to which eczema and rosacea patients can engage in exercise, and further research is warranted to figure out other variables.

 

* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.

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References

  1. Kim A, Silverberg JI. A systematic review of vigorous physical activity in eczema. Br J Dermatol.2016;174(3):660-662; PMID: 26385020 Link to research.
  2. Warburton DE, Nicol CW, Bredin SS. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ.2006;174(6):801-809; PMID: 16534088 Link to research.
  3. Mitchell EA, Beasley R, Bjorksten B, et al. The association between BMI, vigorous physical activity and television viewing and the risk of symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema in children and adolescents: ISAAC Phase Three. Clin Exp Allergy.2013;43(1):73-84; PMID: 23278882 Link to research.
  4. Silverberg JI, Greenland P. Eczema and cardiovascular risk factors in 2 US adult population studies. J Allergy Clin Immunol.2015;135(3):721-728 e726; PMID: 25579484 Link to research.
  5. Font-Ribera L, Villanueva CM, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, et al. Swimming pool attendance, asthma, allergies, and lung function in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort. Am J Respir Crit Care Med.2011;183(5):582-588; PMID: 20889905 Link to research.
  6. Gando Y, Murakami H, Kawakami R, et al. Light-intensity physical activity is associated with insulin resistance in elderly Japanese women independent of moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity. J Phys Act Health.2014;11(2):266-271; PMID: 23359136 Link to research.
  7. Yosipovitch G, Goon AT, Wee J, et al. Itch characteristics in Chinese patients with atopic dermatitis using a new questionnaire for the assessment of pruritus. Int J Dermatol.2002;41(4):212-216; PMID: 12031029 Link to research.
  8. Kim SH, Kim EK, Choi EJ. High-intensity swimming exercise increases dust mite extract and 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene-derived atopic dermatitis in BALB/c mice. Inflammation.2014;37(4):1179-1185; PMID: 24526290 Link to research.
  9. Abokwidir M, Feldman SR. Rosacea Management. Skin Appendage Disord.2016;2(1-2):26-34; PMID: 27843919 Link to research.
  10. Metzler-Wilson K, Toma K, Sammons DL, et al. Augmented supraorbital skin sympathetic nerve activity responses to symptom trigger events in rosacea patients. J Neurophysiol.2015;114(3):1530-1537; PMID: 26133800 Link to research.
  11. Addor FA. Skin barrier in rosacea. An Bras Dermatol.2016;91(1):59-63; PMID: 26982780 Link to research.
  12. Weinkle AP, Doktor V, Emer J. Update on the Management of Rosacea. Plast Surg Nurs.2015;35(4):184-202; PMID: 26605825 Link to research.
  13. Leng CH, Wang JD. Daily home gardening improved survival for older people with mobility limitations: an 11-year follow-up study in Taiwan. Clin Interv Aging.2016;11:947-959; PMID: 27486315 Link to research.
  14. Anveden Berglind I, Alderling M, Meding B. Life-style factors and hand eczema. Br J Dermatol.2011;165(3):568-575; PMID: 21564066 Link to research.
  15. Al-Sahab B, Atoui M, Musharrafieh U, et al. Epidemiology of eczema among Lebanese adolescents. Int J Public Health.2008;53(5):260-267; PMID: 18820833 Link to research.
  16. Karamfilov T, Elsner P. [Sports as a risk factor and therapeutic principle in dermatology]. Hautarzt.2002;53(2):98-103; PMID: 11963201 Link to research.
  17. Salzer S, Kresse S, Hirai Y, et al. Cathelicidin peptide LL-37 increases UVB-triggered inflammasome activation: possible implications for rosacea. J Dermatol Sci.2014;76(3):173-179; PMID: 25306296 Link to research.
  18. Jaworek AK, Wojas-Pelc A, Pastuszczak M. [Aggravating factors of rosacea]. Przegl Lek.2008;65(4):180-183; PMID: 18724544 Link to research.
  19. Coutanceau C, Stalder JF. Analysis of correlations between patient-oriented SCORAD (PO-SCORAD) and other assessment scores of atopic dermatitis severity and quality of life. Dermatology.2014;229(3):248-255; PMID: 25196258 Link to research.