If you are an athlete or someone who enjoys working out your goal is to feel and look fantastic. Unfortunately, a consequence of physical activity is the risk of breaking out on your face, upper arms and trunk.
The most common cause of acne amongst athletes is increased sweating. Excessive perspiration leads to congested pores. While it may take time for your active break outs to completely clear, the key with exercise-induced acne is preventing the acne cycle from reoccurring.
The first step is to initiate your workout with a bare face. That means no makeup, moisturizers, after-shave, etc. For men, we recommend shaving after your workout, to avoid creating open pores that will be exposed to sweat. After your workout, choose a cleanser for “acne prone skin” usually containing salicylic acid. Try to avoid scrubbing the face aggressively as this can cause the spread of bacteria that influences acne. I recommend using a facial cleansing brush.
Although most of us are exhausted after a high endurance workout, avoid sitting around on the couch! The key is to wash away accumulated sweat before it has time to settle into your pores. If you’re short on time or don’t have access to a shower, disposable wipes work just as well. If you have planned to grab lunch after your workout bring an extra shirt.
Clothing is also a big factor to prevent worsening acne. Consider moisture-wicking, breathable workout gear that keeps you dry. Avoid material like cotton that tend to absorb dampness and sweat. If you are wearing a hat or headband, make sure you remember to wash these as well.
If you have moderate or severe acne that has not improved with the recommendations above it is important to follow up with a dermatology provider.
What are treatment options for my acne?
Topical (or external) treatments for acne include one or more creams, washes, or gels that include:
- Antibacterial agents and antibiotics such as benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, erythromycin, sulfur, sodium sulfacetamide, and azelaic acid.
- Retinoids – vitamin A-derived products such as tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene
Oral treatments may include:
- Antibiotics such as tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, erythromycin, ampicillin, clindamycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, azithromycin, or cephalosporins.
- Oral contraceptives and spironolactone have been found to help regulate hormones.
- Isotretinoin, a strong drug with many side effects, for severe acne unresponsive to the above treatments.