You exercise regularly to maintain your personal wellness, but do you ever stop to ponder how your workout routine might be affecting your skin? Dermal health can be heavily impacted by your fitness habits, and chances are you could be doing more to protect it. Follow these dermatologist-approved exercise skincare tips before, during, and after each workout for better results.
Minding Your Skin at the Gym
The #1 rule of exercise skincare is protection. Wiping down equipment and mats may help you avoid bacteria and viruses at the gym, but you’re really at risk for breakouts whenever your skin makes contact with shared surfaces. Cover up with breathable clothing. Dri-fit and lightweight cotton can keep you cool, comfortable, and protected.
“The only way to keep your skin risk-free is to avoid contact with equipment.”
– Jeanine Downie, MD
Gloves are always a good idea for weights (and have the added benefit of protecting your hands from scrapes and blisters). Lay down a towel to prevent skin-to-surface contact with mats and other common equipment. These precautions will help prevent transmission of skin infections like impetigo. Spare yourself from the uncomfortable and unsightly flare-ups that all-too often result from these infections.
Feel free to gently blot excess sweat as necessary with a fresh, dry towel. However, you should always avoid touching your face. Oils and bacteria on your hands are prone to give rise to blemishes on sensitive facial skin.
Exercising outdoors this summer? Remember to apply sunscreen (30 SPF at minimum), even if skies are cloudy. Reapply every two hours, and after swimming or sweating excessively.
Exercise Skincare: Post-Workout Protection
Your exercise may have concluded, but the potential for skincare faux-pas continues!
Thoroughly clean everything you used during the workout – helmets, hats, glasses, and swimsuits included. Clothing left unwashed between workouts is an ideal home for bacteria, which can come back to haunt you later.
Sweat buildup clogs your pores, decreasing skin breathability. Showering immediately after exercise can help prevent the acne and blackheads that often result. Use cool water – hot showers will strip your skin’s natural oils, leaving it dry and unprotected. Showering right away is especially crucial for swimmers, since chlorine can damage your hair and skin.
If you’re showering at the gym, flip-flops are a must: locker rooms are a hotbed for the transmission of stubborn fungus and viral warts.
“Wear waterproof shoes in a public shower. Afterwards, dry your feet thoroughly with a clean towel, even in between your toes,”
– David Bank, MD
Don’t forget to wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove remove the excess dirt, oil and bacteria that can cause inflammation and breakouts. Using a face and body moisturizer after your workouts will help your skin stay healthy and hydrated. Consult a dermatologist to develop an exercise skincare routine that works for you.
Embrace the Benefits
“We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant,” – Ellen Marmur, MD
Exercise is good for body – and your skin – on many levels. Embrace the benefits. Remember that your skin is a key reflection of your overall wellness, and SkyMD dermatologists are here to help you along the way! Visit a dermatologist online today.