How to Handle Post-Workout Acne

You’ve made it a goal for yourself to exercise every day, and you’re right on track! Perhaps you’ve started running, walking, jogging, or swimming. Maybe you’ve joined a gym or hooked up with a friend for bike rides or regular tennis matches.

No matter what physical activity you’re into, you’re feeling great both physically and mentally. There’s only one problem …

Post-workout acne.

Up ahead, we’ll outline exactly why working out tends to cause flare ups of acne, and we’ll give you some tips for combating this common problem.

Why Does Working Out Cause Acne?

Anyone who’s engaged in regular exercise knows that it can take a toll on your skin. Of course, your whole body does benefit from movement and exertion — even your skin. It increases blood flow the more you exert yourself.

At the same time, when you exert yourself so much that you sweat a lot, you create the perfect environment for the yeast and bacteria that causes acne to thrive. Most people notice that their post-workout acne, (which also tends to stick around long after working out, by the way), is concentrated in areas where they sweat a lot — places like the:

  • Forehead
  • Chest
  • Upper back
  • Shoulders
  • Buttocks

How Can You Combat Post-Workout Acne?

  1. Wipe down equipment prior to using it.

If you work out at a gym with shared equipment, always wipe it down well before using it. Sweat from others as well as general dirt and bacteria can build up and contribute to acne over time. The same goes for your own equipment. Keep your smartphone, earbuds, yoga mat, water bottle, and other accessories and equipment as clean as possible.

  1. Aim for dryness.

Having a clean workout towel with you while you exercise can be helpful at keeping your face and body dry. When you feel a buildup of sweat, give your towel a swipe and a pat to remove the excess moisture. Otherwise, being soaking wet from sweat for a long period of time can add to the formation of acne.

As for your workout clothes, it’s good to choose fabrics that are lightweight and moisture-wicking. You should also aim for loose-fitting clothes as opposed to tight garments, which can rub and chafe against the skin, also contributing to acne.

  1. Don’t exercise with makeup on.

Women who wear makeup during the day should always remove their makeup before exercising. Not only does makeup often clog the pores on its own, but it can be especially bad for acne when combined with the moisture of sweat and bacteria.

As you exercise, you have increased blood flow to your skin, and your pores get bigger. This makes them even more likely to absorb bacteria and become irritated, thus causing pimples and blackheads to appear.

  1. Keep hair out of your face and off your neck.

Your hair is full of oils and products that can clog your pores. If it’s allowed to touch your face while you’re exercising and your pores have opened up even wider, this can make pimples appear.

If you notice a lot of breakouts along your hairline, this could be part of your problem. Use headbands and bobby pins to help keep hair back and away from your skin as much as possible.

  1. Avoid touching your face.

This is a general rule for anyone who struggles with acne. Your hands have oils, bacteria, and dirt on them, which can easily cause problems for your pores. If you have to touch your face, always wash your hands first.

  1. Change and take a shower as soon as possible after your workout.

As soon as you finish exercising, don’t wait too long to disrobe and take a shower. The longer old sweat, oils, and dirt sits on your skin, the more likely it is that acne will have a chance to form. Take a shower and wash up as soon as possible.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop Working Out

Even if you’ve tried all of the solutions listed above and you still struggle with post-workout acne, whatever you do, don’t stop working out!

The benefits of regular exercise for your body, mind, and spirit far outweigh the struggle of dealing with exercise-induced acne. While it may not seem like it right now — especially if you’re used to having regular, intense breakouts — realize that you do have other options.

If the at-home tips we’ve provided in this article don’t help, see a dermatologist. In some cases, medications may be used to help eliminate and prevent acne breakouts. You can even get online prescriptions of these meds to make it easier on your busier schedule.

Don’t let exercise-induced acne keep you from leading a healthy lifestyle. You can have a toned body, a refreshed mind — and clear skin!