Breakouts After Exercise? It Might Be Acne Mechanica

There’s no doubt that hitting the gym is great for your whole body, especially your skin. Exercise helps increase blood flow to the surface of your skin, bringing fresh oxygen along with it. Exercise also lowers cortisol—the stress hormone that can exacerbate skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The only downside of a good sweat session? Acne mechanica, a type of acne caused by friction and heat that can pop up on the chest, back, and forehead.

Don’t sweat it: this type of acne is usually preventable and treatable. Read on for some more information about exercise and acne breakouts.
What It Is

Acne mechanica occurs when friction and heat causes the pores to fill with dead cells and oil. When damp workout clothes rub against your skin, they trigger an increase in irritation and excess oil. Boom, breakouts. Acne mechanica is especially common in young, active people and those living in hot climates. It can be worse for people who wear tight workout clothes or headbands made from fabrics that don’t breathe.

What It Looks Like

If you notice rough patches of skin, red bumps, or whiteheads, especially in areas prone to sweat or rubbing from your clothes, you may be experiencing acne mechanica.

How to Treat It

The best way to treat acne mechanica is through prevention.Consider the following suggestions for acne mechanica treatment.

  • If you can, try switching to looser workout clothes made with breathable fabrics like cotton instead of spandex.
  • If that’s not an option, be sure to change out of sweaty clothes immediately after working out.
  • Shower as soon as you can with a non-comedogenic body cleanser and face cleanser.
  • After you get out of the shower and dry off, apply a body peel like our TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel a few times a week. This will help remove excess dead skin cells and prevent breakouts before they get started.