Avoid Exercise-Related Skin Problems in 2014

Gym woman weightlifting

It is a new year and many of us have resolved to change our lifestyle for the better. If working out is one of your resolutions, here are a few tips to avoid some common skin problems that can develop with a regular exercise routine.

Acne
It’s not unusual for people to see increased acne, especially on the forehead, chest and back when workouts increase in intensity.  If prone to acne, wash the face before working out to remove debris that could clog pores when sweating. Immediately after working out, take a shower to cleanse the sweat away from the chest and back. If body breakouts continue to be a problem, add a 2% salicylic acid containing body wash in the shower.

Butt bumps
A common complaint with people who work out regularly is red bumps on the buttocks. Often a result of friction from tight workout pants, these bumps are not usually typical acne but rather develop when the tiny hairs on the buttocks are irritated by tight clothing. For this condition, avoid wearing tight workout pants for long periods of time. Although today’s workout clothes are very comfortable and stylish, if you are dealing with “butt-bumps” it is best to avoid spending the entire day in workout or yoga pants to reduce occlusion and friction on the skin of the buttocks. Also, a 2%-salicylic-acid-containing body scrub can be used in the shower on a daily basis until improved.

Athlete’s foot
If you join a gym, wear shoes and socks at all times while there. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot likes to grow in warm, wet places. When in the shower, bring flip-flop sandals and change them often to avoid the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. If dry, itchy skin or cracks between the toes or on the bottom of the foot are present, a tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) infection is possible. You can treat a tinea pedis infection with over-the-counter antifungal creams, but be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. You should also keep feet dry (which means get them out of hot, sweaty sneakers as much as possible) and change socks often.

Warts
The advice for avoiding warts is similar to that for athlete’s foot. You should wear shoes, socks and flip-flops whenever in the gym, regardless of how “clean” the facility looks. There are over 100 varieties of human papilloma virus or HPV, and although only a few HPV types cause plantar (bottom of the foot) warts, it can be an extremely difficult infection to eradicate. For reasons doctors do not fully understand, some people are more susceptible to the wart virus than others. The best way to avoid infection when in a public place like a gym is to keep a barrier between the feet and public surfaces as much as possible. Warts on the bottom of the feet can be tender when you are standing, which is sometimes the first sign of a developing wart. If you suspect you have a wart on your foot, start treating with over the counter wart remover products immediately to reduce the risk of spread. If the wart is not responding to the treatment, see a dermatologist. People with diabetes or nerve damage in their feet should also always see their podiatrist or physician for treatment of their warts. The treatment for warts is more successful when initiated early rather than when they have been present for months to years.