How best to care for your skin when active.

Dr Mathobela, a leading specialist dermatologist and OXY’s resident skincare expert

Taking part in sport or exercise activities are very worthwhile and beneficial for acne sufferers. Physical activity lessens inflammation in the skin by reducing the body’s production of inflammatory cytokines, whilst decreasing stress. It also helps with hormonal imbalances, reduces circulating blood sugar levels, and increases blood flow to the skin – all of which nourishes your skin both during and, surprisingly, even after exercise as the increased blood flow helps the body rid itself of toxins. Exercise also slows down aging and improves one’s general health – all of which will aid one’s skin in looking better.

However, exercise can unfortunately also worsen or trigger acne amongst those who are acne prone.

  • The increase in sweat and oil production and resulting clogging of one’s pores can encourage skin bacteria to thrive and multiply, all of which can exacerbate an existing acne condition.
  • Friction from tight clothing can lead to irritation of the skin resulting in inflammation.
  • The use of supplements that either contain or boost testosterone production can also further aggravate acne.
  • Exercising with make-up on can accelerate the clogging of one’s pores.
  • Exercising in the sun without sunscreen can also have a detrimental effect on one’s acne.

So, what can one do to reduce the risk of aggravating or triggering acne?

It is essential to maintain proper hygiene both during and post exercise:

  • Cleanse twice a day using products that are specially formulated for acne prone skins.
  • Never exercise wearing make-up.
  • Make sure to use a broad spectrum non comedogenic sunscreen, water resistant SPF 30 (or higher) and, where possible, wear a hat if exercising during the day. The sun is known to dry one’s skin, in turn leading to an increase in oil production. Sunburn can also lead to inflammation, further aggravating one’s acne.
  • Try to wear clothes that are not too tight to help minimise sweating.
  • Remove sweat during exercise by patting it away. Avoid rubbing as this can irritate one’s skin.
  • Wash sweat away immediately after exercising. Always be gentle when washing one’s skin and be sure to use gentle cleansers. Again, pat skin dry – never rub.
  • Do not share protective equipment and always keep them clean. If you are forced to share equipment, first clean it prior to use.
  • Never wear unwashed sporting gear. Dead skin cells and trapped oil and dirt can irritate the skin, clog pores and aggravate one’s acne.
  • Over the counter washes or lotions containing Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid used on areas affected by mild acne can be of enormous benefits.
  • Should one’s acne worsen, be sure to consult a dermatologist for professional advice.