ZocdocAnswersWhy do I get really red and itchy on my chest after I take a hot shower?

Question

Why do I get really red and itchy on my chest after I take a hot shower?

I am an 18 year old male. I am in sports such as track and swimming. Over my lifetime, I have noticed that my chest would get really red and itchy after I took a hot shower and never really understood it. I have tried to take less hot showers, and it seems to help, but the water is uncomfortably cold. I am not taking any medications, and have not been. Just curious what is causing it.

Answer

Having a red or itchy rash after taking a hot shower is a common complaint among those with sensitive or dry skin. Sometimes this can be a symptom of eczema, which is a condition in which the skin lacks certain moisturizing molecules, predisposing to redness, itching, and inflammation, although not always. Regardless, what happens is that hot water (and soaps and cleaning products) tend to strip away the skin's natural protective oils and moisture. This tends to be worse in winter months, as cold dry air tends to make this process worse by further drying out the skin. It also may be worsened by your swimming activities, as the chlorine and other chemicals in the water may contribute to skin dryness and irritation. The mainstay of treatment is to moisturize the skin. After showering, you should immediately pat dry (don't rub) and then liberally apply a thick moisturizer. Greasy moisturizers like hydrolated petrolatum are best as these trap in moisture better than standard lotions. You should also make sure that after swimming you immediately shower to remove the chlorine molecules. Finally, as you have noticed, hot water makes things worse; try taking cooler showers or lukewarm baths instead. Talk to your primary care doctor if you have more questions!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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