7 Ways Your Workout Is Messing With Your Skin – Greatist

Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017

It’s bad enough you have to deal with the occasional zit on your face. But when one (or a cluster) pop up on your chest or back too? That’s straight savage. To attack the problem properly, it’s important to understand why it’s happening in the first place. Acne occurs when dead skin cells, dirt, and/or sebum (oil) get trapped in an oxygen-free environment (the pore) and create bacteria that multiples quickly, causing inflammation (redness and swelling), Levin explains.

So what’s the deal with your back and chest? Those areas have a higher concentration of pores and sebaceous glands, she says, making them prime places for acne to develop. On top of that, factors such as increased sweating, irritation from clothing, and repetitive rubbing can clog pores, making body breakouts common for exercisers. Woof.


“Acne does not occur overnight, which is why it’s important to pick treatments that address all the causes—unclogging pores, decreasing inflammation, decreasing oil production, and fighting bacteria,” Levin says.

The No. 1 way to fight acne before it starts is to shower immediately after exercising to cleanse the area. You can also use a topical product to tame zits. There are a few key ingredients she recommends. The first is a retinoid, which is anti-inflammatory, helps clear pores, and normalizes skin cell turnover. Typically retinoids are prescription only, but Levin recommends Differin gel ($12.20, amazon.com), which can be bought over the counter. Another key ingredient is salicylic acid, which breaks up dead skin cells to clear clogged pores. Try a sal-acid cleanser like PCA Skin blemish control bar ($36, amazon.com) or La Roche-Posay Effaclar medicated gel cleanser ($14.99, amazon.com)

Real talk: A shower isn’t always a reality after a workout. In that case, Levin recommends wiping the chest and back area with a cleansing cloth like Cetaphil gentle skin cleansing cloths, ($9.99, amazon.com) to remove excess sweat and dirt.


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