Exercise and Acne

July 30, 2011 · 1 comment

This is a guest post by Alice.

Unfortunately, if you are expecting to read that you should not exercise if you want to avoid acne, you must be disappointed. So much for being a couch potato. Seriously, exercise is good for your body and your skin. It charges your internal systems working at maximum power, and that really helps in your fight against acne.

However, if you find your acne gets worse when you exercise, you must find the source. What do you wear when working on and how hard you work out can all contribute. Remember, acne related to exercise is usually caused by something you put on your body instead of something you do with it.

Here are some good tips to prevent acne without avoiding the work out:

Females who are exercising must try to wear as little makeup as possible, or not at all (ideal). Even oil-free stuff can clog pores if worn during heavy exercise.

Use of sunscreen while working out (like running) is a great idea. After all, your body needs to be exposed to the sun to work properly, but the overexposure or inadequate exposure can lead to a variety of problems. Studies have shown that exposure to sun can cause long-clogged pores and sun damage. The best advice is to find a sunscreen that will not clog pores (non-comedogenic). These would be products that are oil-free and provide at least an SPF 15 protection level from UVA and UVB.

If you are prone to body acne, avoid the use of clothing like 100% nylon Lycra or like the plague. Why? Synthetic fabrics can trap all the heat and humidity on the skin. This creates a great breeding ground for bacteria that cause acne. Wear light, loose cotton clothing or other natural materials (wool, hemp, etc.), mixing (such as Lycra, cotton) are okay, but not ideal. Natural fabrics allow the skin to breathe and is less prone to cause friction, the second factor in the creation of acne. That said, recent developments have led to synthetic fabrics that wick moisture from the body, and you certainly want it.

The equipment is not really the issue here its how much friction it creates when you wear or use. For example, if you wear a helmet, make sure it fits perfectly, not allowing movement of soft tissue that can create friction. If the helmet can be covered with a layer of soft washable cotton (like an old shirt) you can go a long way to prevent outbreaks of acne. Conversely, if you wear a suit or similar clothing (such as the bike riding outfit), make sure it is not too tight or else it will create problems. And no matter what equipment you use, always make sure it is clean and dry before storing. You can be done exercising, but the bacteria is just beginning.

“Get out of those wet clothes.” Sage advice for parents. Why? The sweat is not your friend when it comes to acne. Sweat itself does not cause acne, but if you are prone to acne, sweating can aggravate the skin. When you remove the sweat from the body / face always blot. Do not clean as this can cause aggravation. Be sure to use a clean cloth.

The shower
Usually it is best to wash immediately after exercise with an exfoliator. At the very least, take a shower. Remember to be gentle with your skin. Scrubbing harder do nothing but cause problems, including potentially more acne outbreaks. If you can not shower right away, it is good to always wipe with medicated pads. They are easy to carry in your gym bag.

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{ 1 comment }

KT July 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm

This is a great article! Thank you so much for posting this Alice. I find that my skin is acne prone..it’s not bad, but it’s hard to keep a fresh pair of bike shorts, or shirts ready to wear and use. I do shower after every session. It has been humid in Boston, and I sweat like crazy. How do some people have such nice skin?? :)

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