5 Tips to Control Exercise Acne

cynthia baileyGuest blogger, Cynthia Bailey M.D., is a practicing dermatologist and skin care expert in Northern California. Her skin care products and advice can be found at Only the Best Skin Care. Follow her on Twitter @cbaileymd and become a fan of Only The Best Skincare on Facebook.

Most of the time exercise is great for your skin giving your complexion a healthy vitality and usually improving acne. For some people, however, exercise causes breakouts.

This exercise acne is different from other forms of acne because it’s caused by the overgrowth of a yeast germ called pityrosporum that normally doesn’t cause pimples. This yeast germ lives in everyone’s skin, but for some people, sweating makes it grow in the pores causing pimples. The harder you workout, the more you sweat and the more you breakout. 

During prolonged workouts, your skin is hot, sweaty and oily and the yeast really grows. The end result is itchy and tender pimples on the back, chest, neck, forehead, and along the jaw line.

Not everyone is prone to exercise acne, also called pityrosporum folliculitis. If you are, there are simple steps you can take to prevent and treat breakouts and achieve healthy skin:

1. Wash your skin immediately after your workout with a medicated soap that kills the yeast. This is the most important way to prevent breakouts. I recommend using soaps that contain 2% pyrithione zinc soap. Other options include medicated shampoos with ketaconazole, like Nizoril Shampoo or selenium sulfide, like Selsun Blue. Apply the soaps or shampoos to your skin and leave them on for several minutes (five minutes is ideal) before rinsing. I like the products applied with an exfoliating cloth or sponge.

2. If your breakout includes clogged pores along with the pustules then I also recommend using an exfoliating cleanser on the affected skin at least three times a week. Options include benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid,or salicylic acid.

3. If you aren’t able to wash your skin immediately after working out, at least wipe it clean with acne pads or rubbing alcohol. Shower and use your medicated yeast killing cleansers as soon as possible.

4. Change into clean, dry clothes after your workout so that your skin can dry out, too.

5. If you prefer to use products made from entirely natural ingredients you can try tea tree oil soaps or shampoos. This natural antimicrobial has the potential to decrease the growth of the pityrosporum yeast, but the oils may clog pores.

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