You expect to feel a bit sweaty and fatigued after a good workout — not breaking out in hives and wheezing. If that’s happening, something else may be at work. If you feel worse at the end of your workout than when you started, one of the following allergy triggers may be to blame. Here are a few common gym allergies and ways to sweat through them.
Downward bad dog
If your Downward Facing Dog resembles a Dalmatian by the end of class, you may be allergic to your mat. Red blotches resembling poison ivy within 48 hours may be due to latex. This material can cause contact dermatitis, a red, itchy rash that occurs when the skin coming into contact with an allergen. Sweat may also bring out symptoms.
Your best line of defense: Use a latex-free yoga mat; try one made of organic cotton or hemp. Or ask your doctor to recommend topical steroids or antihistamines.
When dog-paddling makes you wheeze, it may be time to get out of the pool. Over-chlorinated water in indoor swimming pools can trigger asthma in susceptible individuals and, over time, can cause symptoms even if you don’t have a prior history of asthma.
Your best line of defense: If you’re having symptoms, seek a better-ventilated area. Choose outdoor pools or freshwater options.
Hidden ingredients in gym-whirled smoothies can also make you feel less than healthy. The smoothie itself may be free of allergens but it may be blended in a container used for nuts. Wheat, soy, peanuts and other common allergens can trigger severe anaphylactic reactions in allergic individuals.
Your best line of defense: Read labels or bring your own workout drink or snack.
Think warm-ups are just for wimps? Think again. Jumping into a workout without warming up or failing to cool down afterward can cause asthma symptoms if you’re prone to exercise-induced asthma. Also known as exercise-induced bronchospasm, it calls for a doctor visit.
Your best line of defense: Warm up at the beginning and cool down at the end of your workout. Your doctor may prescribe a short-acting bronchodilator 15 minutes prior to exercise. When exercising in the cold, wear a scarf around your mouth to warm the air.
Clothes making you skin crawl? Until nude workouts become a trend (and let’s hope they never do!) you may need to avoid workout fabrics made of polyester and nylon, which can cause reactions in some people. Clothing as well as cleansers and fabric softeners used to wash clothes can also cause irritation. Heat and sweat can trigger an allergic reaction.
Your best defense: Choose natural fibers, organic cotton or Lycra, all of which are less likely to cause allergy symptoms.