7 Ways Your Workout Is Messing With Your Skin

August 08, 2017

7 Ways Your Workout Is Messing With Your Skin

It’s no secret working out has some major benefits beyond just improving your overall physique. Exercise can also help you sleep better, reduce stress, and boost your overall mood thanks to feel-good endorphins.

Unfortunately, as great as all that is, there are some downsides to working out, specifically when it comes to your skin. From bacne to dry skin to chafing, your skin can take a hard hit when you're active. Luckily, we tapped Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York City, to share her quick, easy, and affordable solutions to your workout skin issues.

Problem: Body Acne

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. 

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