Managing Breakouts While Working out & Playing Sports


Working out is great for your physical, mental, and skin health. It can even relieve stress and improve your sleep quality- all great things connected to your skin's health. So why is exercise causing me to break out?


If you see a connection between exercise and your acne, you might be experiencing acne mechanica, acne caused by friction, heat, or pressure, or when your skin is not exposed to oxygen. Add sweat or sweaty material constantly rubbing against your skin; it can turn into a rash that leads to acne.


Who gets acne mechanica?

Anyone can develop acne mechanica, but I mainly see it on teenagers, athletes, and people in their twenties who already struggle with acne. It can form anywhere on your body, including your face, back, shoulder, and butt.


Common Causes:

  • Wearing tightly fitted clothes like yoga pants or bras.

  • Wearing a tightly fitted hat for long periods

  • Protective gear like a helmet with a chin strap or wrestling headgear

  • Any sports equipment that requires straps like shoulder pads or backstraps

  • A musical instrument resting against the face for long periods

  • Sweaty uniforms and tight or synthetic headbands

This doesn't mean you have to give up all of your hard work and dedication. Just follow these 7 tips to help prevent those clogged pores from forming in the first place.


Tip #1

Shower as soon as possible after working out. Showering right away will help keep sweat and bacteria from clogging your pores.


Tip #2

Don't scrub your skin. Using a scrub can add more friction and irritation and worsen your acne. Cleanse your skin thoroughly with an acne-safe cleanser. I recommend using this African Sponge Net.


Tip #3

Line your protective gear with removal, washable cotton liners to help absorb sweat and oil. Try not to wear your protective gear and helmet for long periods. I understand that you have to wear your gear but remember to remove it and shower as soon as possible.


Tip #4

If you need to wear a helmet, apply Vasaline on the areas where it rubs against your skin. This will help create a protective barrier for your skin.


Tip #5

Opt for cotton or natural fibers for workout clothes, underwear, and shirts. Synthetic clothing can be extremely irritating and can worsen your breakouts.


Tip #6

Wash your protective gear with an acne-safe gear wash like this one here. Keeping your gear clean helps prevent your pores from getting clogged, leading to more acne.


Tip #7

Wear loose-fitting clothing while working out. Tight close can trap heat and moisture, making it the perfect place for acne bacteria to grow.





Using the right type of products and using them properly is important to clearing acne mechanica. When treating acne mechanica, I use the same approach I use to treat other acne. Want to work with me 1:1 to get your acne under control? Schedule your Clear Skin Journey Call here.