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Exercise for Healthy Skin

The Healthy Skin Workout continued...

Don't count of sunscreen alone to protect you, however. "Sweating can remove the sunscreen that athletes put on and there is evidence that sweating actually increases the chance of burning," Adams tells WebMD. "After athletes sweat, it takes 40% less ultraviolet rays to burn than when they are not sweating." For added protection, wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible and a hat to shade your face, if possible.

Another skin problem that can arise during activity is chafing, which can cause rashes. For people prone to acne, the irritation and increased perspiration caused by tight-fitting workout clothes may lead to a form of acne aptly called acne mechanica. "The two keys to prevention are to wear moisture-wicking clothing, such as bras and hats, to keep skin drier and cooler and to shower immediately after exercising," says Adams. Wearing loose-fitting workout clothes can also help. Make sure your skin is clean before you work out to prevent clogged pores that lead to acne. Avoid wearing makeup when you exercise. After showering, apply a soothing skin moisturizer or powder to help prevent skin irritation.

Rx for Exercise-Related Skin Problems

Several other skin conditions can be exacerbated by physical activity, including rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. That's no reason not to exercise, dermatologists say. The benefits of exercise outweigh any temporary problems it can cause. And there are simple strategies to prevent flare-ups when you work out.

For rosacea sufferers, increased body temperature and the skin flushing that accompany exercise can cause flare-ups. The best strategy, dermatologists say, is to exercise in a cool environment. "One of the best choices is swimming, since the water keeps skin cool even when you build up body temperature," Marmur told WebMD. (Be sure to moisturize your skin afterward, however, since chlorine has a drying effect.) Brisk walking in an air-conditioned mall or waiting until the cool of the evening to jog outside are other good options. "If you do get flushed and overheated while exercising, apply cool compresses to problem areas of the skin immediately after your workout," says Andrea Cambio, MD, a private practice dermatologist in Cape Coral, Fla.

Eczema or psoriasis sufferers can also experience flare-ups after strenuous activity, usually caused by salt from perspiration. Marmur recommends spreading on a moisturizer before a workout to provide protection from sweat. Be especially careful to moisturize your arms and legs and areas with skin creases, such as underarms and groin. If possible, exercise in a cool environment to reduce perspiration and the need for showering after exercise. Washing too often can cause dryness and exacerbate eczema and psoriasis.

"Physical activity can definitely pose a challenge, but we encourage all our patients with psoriasis and eczema to exercise to improve their overall health," says Armstrong. Despite the occasionally temporary flare-ups, she adds, many patients see their conditions improve in the long term.

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Reviewed on April 15, 2011

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