I’m a 23-year old ex-collegiate rower, and wanted to share how I developed cholinergic urticaria. My whole life up to 23, I never knew I had CU. I played sports all my life (important for later) and was a rower in college for my freshman and sophomore years.
I stopped rowing due to a back injury, and so for a few months I hadn’t been sweating, which was a first for me. My whole life I sweat regularly most week days due to sports.
After those couple months of not sweating, I began to get extremely bad, prickly needle symptoms in my skin, everywhere. I noticed the burning and knife-feeling spread as time went on. At first it was the stinging, then the physical hives rash set in, and it freaked me out.
The cholinergic urticaria bump fields were everywhere in my upper body and were spreading to my lower body. I went to two dermatologists and one allergist, and I explained to all of them the timeline as I did above a little bit. I told them “All these symptoms started when I stopped sweating”.
They thought it couldn’t have been from sweating, but somehow non-coincidentally the hives just “started up”
I refused to believe that because my body’s intuition was telling me that it felt like the hives and the stinging was trying to push something out (like sweat). They put me on antihistamines of all sorts, I guess the name-brands such as Zyrtec, Claritin, etc. Nothing worked at all.
So I said screw it, I’m gonna exercise to see if it starts going away. At this point, the hives were most everywhere on my body, and the burning stinging was everywhere. It started to become almost emotionally unbearable, because it would happen many times a day.
Low and behold, after consistent biking and more conditioning-type of working out (bike, run, etc.) the stinging and the hives went down down down.
I kept sweating like I had done when I was an athlete, and the symptoms were coming down basically to wear I wouldn’t feel them anymore daily.
Unfortunately, during the months I was not exercising and going in the sun due to not knowing that I had CU, I got multiple heat exhaustion episodes. This was partly because I hadn’t gone into the sun, purposefully, but also because the CU was/is preventing me from sweating like a normal person would perhaps.
Anyway, with the sun/heat exhaustion part aside, I would suggest to anyone with CU symptoms like mine to try (if not already, or if you haven’t yet tried) to start with a couple of weeks of consistent exercise that results in you sweating a lot. Literally, try to push out the sweat as much as you can, and hopefully you can get the results I did.
With my own history of athletics, I basically had kept my CU condition away because of constant athletics. I had it, but didn’t know I did because being in the sun and sweating A TON.
Now I’m exercising regularly and my hives (burning, and the rash) are basically gone again. Again, may not work for everyone, but just a tip for trying to lower these nasty symptoms!
Editor’s Note: Please talk to a doctor before trying an exercise program. Also, sweating may not be safe or feasible for all people, especially those with anhidrosis, anaphylaxis, or other health issues.