Itchy Chest and Back Rash? It Might Be Grover’s Disease.

For many of us as we pass through various stages in our lives, our bodies begin to change, and we inevitably experience unusual symptoms that can leave us uncomfortable and with questions.

Personally, I can think of at least a dozen body-related “anomalies” or behaviors that I’ve experienced over the last 5 years that have left me confused about what’s going on with me physically.

Thankfully, none of them have been severe.

Thank goodness for Google (or Bing, etc.), because it gives us the ability to find information rather quickly from others who may be experiencing the exact same symptoms.

Along with that may come definitive answers or even suggestions on how to minimize the symptoms or condition.

It was that same circumstance which brought this reader to back in 2010. 


Sweat Proof Undershirts

Here’s his story that he just recently shared with me.

I thought what he shared was incredibly important and could possibly help someone else experiencing the same symptoms, who is also turning to the internet looking for a solution:

Hey Tug,

Just wanted to send you a update about a problem I was having with sweating and a itchy rash that developed and persisted.

Transient acantholytic dermatosis (Grover's Disease). Image Credit: Wikipedia.
Image Credit: Wikipedia (Not of Reader). Transient acantholytic dermatosis (Grover’s Disease).

In the summer of 2010 I developed a rash on my chest and back. It was very itchy and would not go away with OTC creams.

I went to a dermatologist and he put me on a long course of antibiotics (called it folliculitis a infection of the hair follicles on my skin) which didn’t help.

Meanwhile I searched your site for clothing that would be good to wear (other than the cotton stuff I was wearing)

The antibiotics didn’t work and I didn’t feel good about being on antibiotics for so long because if I needed to use them for another condition they probably wouldn’t work.

Anyway I found another Dermatologist and he looked at my rash and diagnosed it correctly right away and even did a biopsy to confirm it.

It’s called Grovers disease.

It a allergic reaction to your own body’s sweat. Most common in men in their 50’s and older.

There is no treatment other than prevention and treatment of symptoms such as itching.

I was told hot showers would enhance the itching and rash so I still take medium hot showers but follow them with a cold rinse.

I also found out that the itch sensors in our skin compete with the cold sensors and if you add cold to your skin the itch goes away.

I also found that on really bad days Claritin (generic brand ) works wonders but I haven’t had to use that for quite awhile.

A great OTC skin lotion (better than the prescription) to use to relieve itching you can get at Wal Mart it’s called, Equate medicated extra strength body lotion.

This stuff after a shower stops the itch very well.

I switched to 100% polyester undershirts and work shirts and found many good links to companies on your site.

Three that i have purchased from are Wickers (for my basic sleeveless undershirt) Campbellsville Apparel Company (for regular T-shirts that are as soft as cotton) and Quartermaster (for long sleeve shirts) I use their police officer shirts.

They are inexpensive (under $25) and very well made. All shirts are 100% polyester.

Grover’s disease lasts for about a year or so and then goes into remission. I haven’t had any severe itching for months now and the rash is decreased to a few small dots here and there.

Just by making a few lifestyle changes one can beat this. I still wear cotton but make sure it’s in situations where no sweating is involved.

Thank you for a great site with great information.

Sincerely,  John

More Awesome Info from John

After reading everything that John shared with me, I contacted him back and was curious if he had tried any pain-relieving “cooling” sprays like Salonpas or Cortaid Intensive Therapy Cooling Spray.

Here’s his response:

According to my Dermatologist and online research, Grovers disease (a allergic reaction to one’s own sweat) has a cycle of about one year.

Mine lasted about 15 months. 

Now in that 15 months I had probably a dozen days here and there where the itching was severe and maybe 3 days where it was very severe and I had to take a Claritin which gave me relief in literally minutes.  The rash was present all the time.

My dermatologist recommended a OTC lotion called Sarnia however I found much greater relief from lotions such as Banana Boat  “Sooth-A-Caine” with Aloe gel and lidocaine. 

It also contains Menthol which IMHO is the key ingredient.  In the Equate Lotion  I wrote of in my note to you Menthol is listed as “anti itch”.

I have not used any of  the cooling sprays you listed.  I’ll take a look at them and see what kind of ingredients they have.  

Rinsing myself with cold water after a shower really works very well.

Another funny thing is that the symptoms were worse in the winter months than summer.  Could be because your skin is drier in the winter months and dry skin tends to be itchier.

My symptoms (itch and rash) are virtually gone now. 

I still wear 100% polyester shirts in the summer to keep the sweat away from my skin and cold rinses after my hot shower.  (much easier to do in the summer than winter :D )

I also found the Equate ES Medicated body lotion to be great on stopping the itch from mosquito bites faster than Benedryl cream.

Mine [Grover’s Disease] never looked as bad as the wiki pic but similar. 

Wiki is one of the sites I researched.  Gotta love the google.

The Salonpas has 3% menthol so I think it would work well.  The Cortaid has Hydrocortisone a steroid.

If I had to choose I’d go with the Salonpas.


How to wear undershirts

1 thought on “Itchy Chest and Back Rash? It Might Be Grover’s Disease.”

  1. There’s a long, long list in the differential diagnosis of diseases which mimic the rare Grover’s disease which go all the way from cutaneous malignancy, to cutaneous fungal infections to scabies etc. I am looking at a list of 17 of them right now (which doesn’t even include allergic contact dermatitis or specific vitamin deficiencies) and can tell you that it is near impossible to diagnose Grover’s by eyeballing it.
    However this side of a scrape biopsy sent to the lab for a more definitive diagnosis, which is a must, you might try simple non-toxic remedies such as Clotrimazole 1% cream. Such treatment will not replace the need for a laboratory diagnosis through scraping the lesion, but it will give you a somewhat better idea of what you are really dealing with. Hope this helps.


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