Why Does Pre-Workout Make You Itch

Why Does Pre-Workout Make You Itch?

Have you ever taken a pre-workout supplement before your workout and felt itchy all over your body? You’re not alone!

This is a common side effect experienced by many people who take pre-workout supplements.

There are several reasons why this can happen, including an allergic reaction to ingredients, increased blood flow and sensitivity to stimulants, and dehydration.

In this article, we’ll examine why pre-workout supplements can make you itch and how to prevent or reduce the sensation.

This article will offer you everything you need to know about pre-workout itch.

What Are Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements are nutritional products you can take before exercising. It helps improve athletic performance and strengthen physical results [1].

They include ingredients like creatine, amino acids, caffeine, vitamins, and minerals. They help boost muscle growth, endurance, focus, and energy.

In other words, pre-workout supplements help you train harder, longer, and with greater intensity.

Nonetheless, these are not suitable for everybody. Consult with your doctor or dietitian before you start any new supplement regimen.

Ingredients and Functionality of Pre-Workout Supplements

Are you looking for ways to increase your energy, lessen fatigue, and perform at your peak? You have likely considered taking a pre-workout supplement.

However, which ones work—and which are a waste of money?

What Are the Key Ingredients to Look Out For?

There’s limited research on the efficacy of pre-workout supplements. But some studies recommend that specific ingredients might benefit athletic performance [2]. 

  • Branched-chain amino acids

These are essential amino acids that can minimize muscle damage and support recovery.

  • Beta-alanine

This amino acid can boost muscle endurance and lessen muscle fatigue.

  • Creatine

It is a naturally-occurring substance that can boost muscle strength and power.

  • Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that can boost focus and alertness. It can also lessen fatigue and improve endurance.

  • Nitric oxide precursors

Ingredients like citrulline and L-arginine can improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles.

How Pre-Workout Supplements Work

Haven’t you fueled yourself properly before exercises or hard workouts? You will be less energized, weaker, and experience fatigue faster than usual.

That is a fact.

Pre-workout supplements help fight this. They help keep you going harder and for longer. You can take the supplement in many formats, from pills, shakes, and meals. But in short, they boost your energy levels and focus.

For most, you can combine pre-workout supplements with water. You can take it around 30 minutes before starting your workout. The glucose in the pre-workout increases your blood sugar levels.

In turn, it offers added energy during your workout. One cool thing is that these supplements are much more energizing than black coffee or a banana.

Possible Causes of Itching After Taking Pre-Workout Supplements

There are many reasons why you Itch after taking pre-workout supplements. Some of the possible causes are the following:

Allergic Reactions

Everybody knows why an allergic reaction is terrible and what it might entail. But what is it exactly? You can define it as an immune system’s adverse reaction to something harmless [3].

Some have an immune system that gets too excited when contacting allergens. During this state, the immune system releases substances. That causes bloating, pain, and swelling inside the body.

One common reaction to these substances is itching. Remember that pre-workout supplements can cause allergic reactions as they contain various ingredients that some individuals may be sensitive to.

These ingredients can include caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.

You may experience allergic reactions from pre-workout supplements because you have too many. That’s a common mistake people make, particularly newbies.

Most users consume too much of the supplement. They think it will boost their performance even more than average.

See also  Does Pre-Workout Break a Fast?

But that’s not how it works. Too much of anything is bad for you.

What Are the Common Allergens in Pre-Workout Supplements?

The most common allergens (that may cause itchiness, etc.) in pre-workout supplements are:

  • Caffeine – Some individuals might be allergic to caffeine. That’s a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements.
  • Sweeteners – Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can also cause allergic reactions.
  • Artificial flavorings and colors – You’ll find some pre-workout supplements with artificial colors and flavoring. Those will cause an allergic reaction in some.
  • Dairy products – Are you lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy? Check out the pre-workout supplements first before taking them. Some of them have dairy products like whey protein.
  • Ingredients derived from soy or nuts – Be cautious of pre-workout supplements containing these ingredients.

How Can You Recognize the Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction?

Recognizing the first signs of allergic reaction and taking action can be the difference between a life and death situation. The biggest mistake is not treating a severe allergic reaction.

Remember that the symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary from person to person. They may also develop quickly within seconds of exposure to an allergen. Sometimes, they evolve over an hour or so.

The most typical symptoms of an allergic reaction include the following:

  • Itchiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest discomfort or tightness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Mental confusion
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fainting
  • Rapid pulse

An allergic reaction becomes serious when any of the symptoms are severe. These include difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, vomiting, and hives.

Histamine Release

Histamine release can cause itching after taking pre-workout supplements. Histamine is a chemical in the body and plays a role in the immune response and blood flow regulation.

Some ingredients in pre-workout supplements, like niacin, cause histamine release [4]. That leads to flushing, itching, and other symptoms.

Awareness of your body’s reaction to pre-workout supplements is essential. Seek medical attention if you encounter itching or any allergic reactions.

What Are the Symptoms of Histamine Release?

The most common symptoms of histamine intolerance include [5]:

  • Red, watery, or itchy eyes
  • Congested, itchy, or runny nose
  • Hives or an itchy skin rash
  • Worsening eczema or a condition that causes flaky or itchy rashes
  • Flushed skin
  • Digestive symptoms like diarrhea
  • Migraine headaches

What Ingredients Trigger Histamine Release?

Several ingredients in food and supplements can trigger histamine release. Some of these ingredients include:

  • Tyramine

Tyramine is a naturally-occurring amino acid found in red wine, aged cheese, and fermented foods.

You can find them when you store specific foods for a long time or do so incorrectly. Tyramine can also trigger histamine release in some people. That leads to flushing, hives, or itching.

  • Niacin

Pre-workout supplements often have a massive amount of niacin (vitamin B3). They often cause histamine release that results in itching and flushing.

You can also find niacin in fish, chicken, and liver. However, those sources don’t often cause histamine-release symptoms.

  • Sulfites

You will often find sulfites in wine, dried fruits, and processed foods. People use them to prevent the growth of yeast and bacteria.

Sulfites can also trigger histamine release, resulting in symptoms like flushing, hives, and itching.

Other ingredients you need to be wary of include food additives, MSG, certain fruits, nuts, and seeds.


Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels [6]. When it happens, there’s an increase in blood flow because of a lessening of vascular resistance, which can lead to itching due to increased blood flow to the skin.

That can cause increased blood flow to the muscles, improving your overall exercise performance. However, that increased blood flow can also cause a warm, red, and painful sensation in the skin.

In some cases, the ingredients in pre-workout supplements can trigger histamine release, resulting in vasodilation, itching, and other symptoms.

What Ingredients in Pre-Workout Supplements Can Cause Vasodilation?

Vasodilators are compounds that expand your blood vessels. That means ingredients like L-citrulline fall under that category.

Other vasodilators include hydralazine, alprostadil, and nitroglycerine. However, most pre-workout formulas will label that group of compounds like vasodilators. Irrespective, their function is the same. They increase blood flow to the muscles during your workout.

Beta-alanine, caffeine, nitrates, and creatine are the ingredients in pre-workout supplements that often cause vasodilation.


Pre-workout supplements containing caffeine and other stimulants can cause urination, leading to dehydration.

Dehydration can cause symptoms like fatigue, dark yellow urine, thirst, dry mouth, confusion, and dizziness. Left untreated, it can become severe and result in heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

See also  Does Pre-Workout Break a Fast?

What Ingredients in Pre-Workout Supplements Can Cause Dehydration?

Caffeine is one of the pre-workout supplement ingredients that cause dehydration. It boosts urine production, meaning it is also a diuretic.

Intake of over 400 milligrams of caffeine every day can result in dehydration.

How Does Dehydration Cause Itching?

When your skin is dehydrated, it becomes dry and loses its elasticity, resulting in itching.

You see, dehydration can also cause your skin to become inflamed and irritated, further exacerbating itching. What’s more, itching can also be a symptom of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

Drinking enough fluids after taking pre-workout supplements is essential to avoid dehydration-related itching. If itching persists, it may be a sign of an underlying condition.

Taking Precautions and Finding Relief

It’s always important to find relief for itching, especially when it’s a side effect of pre-workout supplements.

Precautions Before Consuming Pre-Workout Supplements

There are various precautions you must consider before consuming your pre-workout supplements:

  • Read the Label

Make sure you read the whole ingredient list. Check for any possible substances or allergens that you might be sensitive to.

  • Consult a Healthcare Professional

Do you have any underlying health conditions? Do you take any medications?

It will help if you consult with a healthcare professional first. It will ensure that the supplement is safe for you to consume.

  • Choose Reputable Brands

Look for a pre-workout supplement from dependable brands. Be extra wary of products that make exaggerated claims or have a long list of unfamiliar ingredients.

Relief for Itching Sensations

Itching is a typical sign caused by different conditions, including infections, allergies, dry skin, and irritation.

Here are some of the ways you can relieve itching.

  • Anti-histamine Medications

Take oral antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Claritin (loratadine). It can help relieve the itch caused by allergies.

  • Hydration

Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help keep your skin hydrated and lessen itching.

Therefore, staying hydrated can be a crucial part of managing itching and other symptoms associated with skin conditions.

  • Cool Compresses

A cold compress can relieve itching by numbing your skin. It also reduces blood flow to the affected region. The cold temperature also soothes irritated skin and minimizes inflammation.

To use a cold compress, wrap a cold pack of ice in a cloth or towel. Apply it to the affected area for ten to fifteen minutes. Repeat as needed.

  • Avoid Triggers

Avoiding triggers is an essential step in managing itching.

Keep your skin moisturized to help prevent itching. Also, avoid exposure to allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and specific foods.

Identify your triggers to help lower the severity and frequency of your itching. It will also help if you keep a journal to monitor your symptoms and possible triggers.

Conclusion: Understanding Why Pre-Workout Supplements Can Cause Itching

Pre-workout supplements can boost your energy and help you push harder in the gym, but some people experience itching as a side effect.

While the exact reason pre-workout supplements cause itching isn’t clear, it’s believed to be related to the ingredients.

Don’t worry, not everyone who takes pre-workout supplements will experience itching, and it can vary in severity from person to person. If you experience itching, try talking to a doctor to find the root cause and get proper treatment.

In some cases, over-the-counter remedies like anti-itch lotion can help relieve mild itching. It’s always best to check with a healthcare provider to ensure the itching isn’t related to an underlying health condition or medication interaction.

Stay positive, and with the right approach, you can find relief and keep crushing your workout goals!


[1] Outlaw JJ, Wilborn CD, Smith-Ryan AE, et al. Acute effects of a commercially-available pre-workout supplement on markers of training: a double-blind study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11:40. Published August 15, 2014. Accessed February 7, 2023. doi:10.1186/s12970-014-0040-0.

[2] Harty PS, Zabriskie HA, Erickson JL, Molling PE, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR. “Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15(1):41. Published August 8, 2018. Accessed February 7, 2023. doi:10.1186/s12970-018-0247-6.

[3] WebMD Editorial Contributors. “What Is An Allergic Reaction?” WebMD. Published March 13, 2022. Accessed February 7, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergic-reaction-causes.

[4] Jennings, K. “Is Niacin Flush Harmful?” Healthline. Published May 13, 2020. Accessed February 7, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacin-flush.

[5] Kovacova-Hanuskova E, Buday T, Gavliakova S, Plevkova J. “Histamine, histamine intoxication, and intolerance.” Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2015;43(5):498-506. Accessed February 7, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.aller.2015.05.001.

[6] Whitworth, G. “Is Vasodilation Good?” Healthline. Published November 2, 2018. Web. Accessed February 7, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/vasodilation.

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