Why Do Pre Workout Drinks Make You Itch?

Why do pre workout drinks make you itch? It’s a question that many people have, and it’s one that we’re going to answer in this blog post. We’ll explore the possible causes of this phenomenon and offer some tips on how to avoid it.


Pre workout drinks are becoming increasingly popular for their ability to enhance athletic performance, provide energy and delay fatigue. However, one of its most common side effects is a tendency to make you itch—called ‘pre-workout itch’. While the sensation may be uncomfortable, it does not appear to be harmful. In this article, we explore what causes pre workout itch and how you can manage it.

The term ‘pre-workout itch’ was first introduced in 1998 when a research team at the University of California San Diego found that many athletes experienced an intense itching sensation after consuming certain pre-workout drinks. Since then, many studies have been conducted to look into the cause behind this phenomenon. The results suggest that there are several possible factors at play—including active ingredients in the drink itself as well as individual sensitivities. To better understand why pre workout drinks may make you itch, let’s take a closer look at these potential causes.

Causes of Pre Workout Itching

Working out is essential for a healthy lifestyle and you might be tempted to have a pre-workout drink that promises to give you a boost in energy and performance. However, pre-workout drinks can sometimes cause unpleasant side effects, such as itching. In this article, we will discuss the different causes of this itching, as well as possible remedies for it.


Pre-workout supplements may contain stimulants such as caffeine and guarana. Stimulants may cause skin irritation, which can lead to itching. Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in many foods and beverages, including chocolate, coffee, tea and soda. Guarana is also a stimulant but is a slightly different type of stimulant than caffeine. Guarana contains xanthines which are believed to have stimulating effects on the body.

Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure and can cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to redness or itching of the skin. Drinking caffeinated beverages may also cause your body temperature to rise resulting in excess sweating that can cause skin irritation and itching as well. The combination of these two powerful stimulants in pre-workout drinks can further increase the risk for skin irritation leading to additional itching sensations.

Some pre-workout supplements also include herbal extracts such as yohimbe that may further contribute to increased risk of skin irritation due to its possible vasodilatory properties that leads to increases in redness or itching sensation on the skin when taken in high doses or when combined with other stimulants found in pre-workout drinks


Certain ingredients in pre-workout supplements commonly contain sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame-K, and/or a combination of them. These artificial sweeteners create an intense sweetness in the drink that is thought to stimulate nerve endings found in the gastrointestinal tract and increase intestinal transit, thereby irritating the stomach and intestines. The irritation may cause itching sensations which can often be fairly intense. In some cases, these sensations can be even more intense due to the presence of stimulants (e.g., caffeine) in pre-workout supplements which increase sensitivity to itching. Additionally, individuals who suffer from histamine intolerance (due to high levels of histamine in their body) are also more likely to experience itching when consuming pre-workout supplements containing sweeteners.

Artificial Colors

Artificial colors can be a common cause of itching after consuming pre-workout drinks. Many of these drinks contain various artificial dyes added to enhance their color, although it is not necessarily an indicator of higher quality. These colors can range from yellow 5 to Red 40 and are known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals, leading to itching or even hives. If you experience itching after consuming pre-workout drinks, consider switching brands or omitting them altogether and instead opting for natural sources of energy like fruits or nuts.

Allergic Reactions

One of the most common causes of pre workout itching is an allergic reaction. Many pre workout drinks contain stimulants, such as caffeine, taurine and guarana, as well as other ingredients such as artificial coloring, flavoring agents and preservatives. Allergies to any of these components can cause itching when the product is consumed. It is also possible for a person to be allergic to a specific ingredient that isn’t listed on the label. If you’re experiencing itching after trying a new pre workout drink or supplement, it may be wise to consult with an allergist in order to determine what ingredient(s) you might be reacting to.

Another potential cause of pre workout itching could be that your body is just not used to processing the large amount of stimulants in these products. A study published in 2015 found that consuming different types and doses of stimulants could induce adverse physiological effects including redness and itching around the face and neck area due to mild histamine secretion. If this might be the case, your doctor can advise on better ways to tolerate these products or recommend other alternatives if allergies are suspected.


Pre-workout drinks can be beneficial for those looking to gain energy during physical activity. However, some people experience itching as a side effect. Fortunately, there are some simple steps anyone can take to prevent this from happening. In this article, we will discuss the different ways to avoid pre-workout itching.

Read Labels

Food labels can provide helpful information when you’re looking for a pre-workout drink. The label should list the ingredients and their quantities. This will give you an idea of how much sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants are in the drink as well as any artificial colors or flavors. Knowing what is in the pre-workout drink can help you decide if it’s something your body can handle or not. It is also important to note that some ingredients are known allergens and may cause a reaction in susceptible individuals even if they weren’t listed on the label. Pay attention to any unusual side effects when consuming pre-workout drinks, such as excessive itching, and contact your doctor if any significant symptoms present themselves.

Avoid Artificial Colors

Avoiding artificial colors is an important part of preventing pre-workout skin itching and other allergic reactions. Artificial colors are a common ingredient in many pre-workout supplements and energy drinks, but they can be hard to spot. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers any synthetic color added to foods--including many pre-workout beverages--to be unsafe unless specifically certified.

Common synthetic food color names such as DC Red No. 40 and FD&C Blue No 1, are added directly to foods, like drinks, to give them the desired color without changing the taste or texture of the product. These artificial colors serve no nutritional purpose and can cause various issues in people sensitive to them.

If you are experiencing itching during or after consuming a pre-workout beverage, pay attention to the ingredients list on the label to ensure it doesn’t contain artificial or synthetic dyes or colorings before consuming it again. It’s also beneficial to limit exposure by avoiding processed products that may contain these components such as candies, soft drinks and even some breads, sauces and core dairy products.

Choose Natural Sweeteners

The typical pre-workout drinks commonly contain sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame potassium, or sucralose. All of these are artificial sweeteners known to cause adverse side effects such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and itchy skin. To avoid this issue or lessen the sensitivity to these artificial sweeteners, opt for natural alternatives such as stevia or erythritol. Natural sweeteners are often better suited for individuals with sensitivities and do not contain additional chemicals that can cause reaction.

Take Allergies Seriously

It is important to take any allergies seriously, especially when experimenting with new workout supplements. Many common ingredients in pre-workout drinks can cause an allergic reaction. Citric acid, artificial sweetener, and food coloring are examples of possible allergens found in many pre-workout products. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be mild or severe ranging from mild itching and redness to full blown anaphylactic shock. If you have any allergy, always consult your doctor prior to taking a new supplement and start with a limited dosage if needed.

Aside from individuals with allergies, those who have sensitive skin should also be aware that some pre-workout drinks contain ingredients that can cause irritation resulting in skin rashes or itching. Common irritants include preservatives such as: benzyl alcohol, methylparaben; certain perfumes; and fragrances such as lavender oil and citrus scented ingredients. It is important to look out for ingredients which could potentially be irritating before consuming any pre-workout drink and follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer.


It is difficult to summarize the extent of the side effects from pre-workout drinks, as every individual has a unique response to various substances. Most people do not possess any adverse side effects from using pre-workout drinks and have a safe and effective experience with increased energy and focus during their workouts.

However, some people may experience itching as one of the side effects when using pre-workout drinks. This itching can be related to certain stimulants used in some of these products or due to an allergic reaction caused by one or more ingredients within these beverages. To prevent this type of response, it is important to read ingredient labels carefully before consuming any pre-workout drink, and if possible, consult with a physician if you have concerns over what components are used in the product.

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