Post Exercise Acne – Why is it Happening?

We all know exercising does wonders for our body. Supposing exercise should also benefit our body’s largest organ – our skin. Is it really the case? Or does it make you more prone to acne?

acne after sweating

I started actively exercising about 4 months ago. I was working up serious sweats once every two days, or if not, daily.  I was so intrigued initially by the glow my skin gets from the workouts, happily driving myself to work insanely harder and harder, thinking that the sweating means purging out toxins and I’ll be looking all radiant and smoothed-skin.

However, I was disappointed. It was not the case. After each session, I would find a small pustule (whitehead) growing. Every single time. Having clear skin all my life did not help my franticness to find a cause and work a solution to keep those zits away.

Sweat is made up of mostly water, with small amounts of urea, ammonia, salt and sugar. When you sweat, these impurities are flushed out from your skin. Exercising increases the blood flow to your skin, and sweating helps to unclog your pores. If this is so, what could be causing the outbreaks?

What are the possible causes of acne post workouts?

  • Clogged pores filled with sebum and makeup (especially if your makeup is not ‘non-comedogenic’)
  • Dead skin cells slough off and are trapped in your pores. And because your skin cant breathe, it could result in acne.
  • Hair that sweeps across your face carries oil and dirt, which again explains why a clean face is important
  • Bacteria is everywhere and with shared exercise equipments in common gyms it is likely they are the breeding ground for germs and bacteria. These could get onto your hands when you touch the same machines.
  • Unclean towels is an obvious cause and we do not want to be wiping our faces with them.
  • Stress, though not exactly related to your exercise routine, can cause acne outbreaks. Supposing you have a hard workout session and subconsciously, it stresses your body to push yourself harder.
  • Over-washing of your face before and post working out might cause irritation and drying out of your skin which in turn could lead to the formation of acne.

To determine an exact cause to post exercising acne is challenging. Be sure to check that you are encouraging hygiene as much as possible to eradicate the problem.

Check that you are :

  • Blot face with oil blotters to remove excess oil before working out. If washing with a facial cleanser is too dry, just add a splash of water and pat dry.
  • Skip makeup before exercising will save you one time of washing the face.
  • Remove makeup if you must have them applied before your workout session. Avoid applying any skincare products before working out. These may clog up your pores if not absorbed into the skin.
  • Cleansing gently. Rubbing or tugging on your skin may cause excessive abrasion and irritation, thus increasing the chance of acne.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after exercising, before touching your face. Bacteria is all over  your hands from contact with the exercise machines.
  • Avoid touching your face during exercise. If do, please ensure it is with a clean towel. Avoid randomly throwing your towel over machine handles or on the floor. Remember, germs are everywhere!
  • Use a mild cleanser. Choose one that is mild so it wouldn’t strip off your skin’s natural moisture.
  • Antibacterial formula face washes ensure your skin is thoroughly clean and free from bacteria. Tea tree oil and Neem oil formulas are good antibacterial choices.
  • Don’t wait too long after your workout to give your face a clean wash. The longer your wait, the longer the sweat and oils have to form blockages on your skin.
  • Hydrate your skin well after washing. Cleansers tend to strip of the skin’s natural moisture and oil that serve to moisturize the skin. Remember to use a good hydrator after wash.
  • Cover equipments at the gym as they are filled with sweat, germs, bacteria and grime!

I didn’t know what attributed to my outbreak the initial 3 months of me back to being physically active. I did everything I have listed above, I couldn’t pinpoint it to any one cause. I’m just thankful I hardly get any pimples nowadays. It is important to practice hygiene especially getting rough-and-rugged outdoors, afterall, don’t we all want to look good?

Do you share a similar experience?  Share with us by leaving a comment below!

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