Skin Deep

Are your Lululemons giving you an itchy rash?

Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions about an itchy rash on the buttocks that seems to develop after exercising in Lululemon leggings. Because the rash seemed to only happen in this particular brand, my first thought was that it was a reaction to the fabric. However, after doing some research, I found that the rash is most likely caused by a fungal infection called pityrosporum folliculitis.

Dr. Leslie Baumann.jpg
Dr. Leslie Baumann

Pityrosporum folliculitis symptoms and treatment

Pityrosporum is a type of yeast that can naturally be found on healthy human skin. However, when it makes its way to the hair follicles and multiplies there, it can cause an infection called pityrosporum folliculitis. When you work up a sweat in tight clothing like leggings, combined with the warm, moist environment here in Miami, you create the perfect conditions for this microorganism to thrive.

The most notable symptoms of this condition are itchy skin and small raised bumps that can resemble acne. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis from your dermatologist, however, because acne treatments can make pityrosporum folliculitis worse. Instead, your doctor may prescribe you ketoconazole shampoo or topical cream to clear up the infection. In more severe cases, oral itraconazole may be prescribed alone or used in combination with topical treatments.

How to prevent an itchy rash after exercise

The best thing you can do to prevent getting a rash after working out is to change out of your exercise clothes immediately and take a shower. If you can’t take a shower right away, at least change into dry clothes and wipe away any sweat using a wet cleansing wipe. If you’re still having issues with itchy, bumpy skin after your workout, another thing you can do is wear looser-fitting clothing during exercise.

We are still unsure as to why Lululemon leggings seem to be connected with this condition the most. It does not appear to be related to the fabric. It could be that more people tend to wear this brand over others, or that we just happen to see more cases of it with these leggings.

Bottom line

If you notice an itchy rash on your skin after sweaty exercise, it could be a fungal infection called pityrosporum folliculitis. Talk to your dermatologist for a diagnosis and treatment plan, and don’t forget to shower or change out of your sweaty workout clothes as soon as possible.

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