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Does Exercise Cause Acne?

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
Does Exercise Cause Acne?
If you aren't careful, exercise can worsen your acne.

Exercise can cause or exacerbate acne lesions on the skin. This is because exercise triggers processes that are often connected to acne. However, this shouldn't dissuade you from working out if you're interested in keeping your skin pristine. Proper hygiene should be enough to counteract any negatives caused by working out.

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Acne Risk Factors

Several things can contribute to or cause acne on the skin, according to Dead skin cells that remain affixed to the skin can trap oil underneath them, aggravating the skin and blocking pores. When pores become fully clogged, they can turn into pustules. Bacteria are also a common cause; these reside on the surface of your skin but can enter an open wound. Stress is also sometimes a cause.

Gland Secretions

Sebum oil and sweat are commonly excreted through the pores on your skin. However, exercising causes these to be released at a very rapid rate. The sweat and oil then cover your skin and can accumulate in your pores, according to If you don't tend to your skin and clean it in within a few hours, it can agitate the skin, clog the pores and cause pimples to develop.

Cleaning the Skin

Cleaning your skin is the best way to get rid of sweat. But in order to be sensitive to skin that easily forms irritations, as is common with skin suffering from acne, you should use a gentle skin cleanser made of natural ingredients or chemicals that won't be too harsh on the skin. also recommends using a soft cloth that is less likely to be abrasive to the skin.


After you have washed your skin, you may consider applying a medication onto the skin to break down oils and dead skin -- particularly if you're trying to eliminate an existing case of acne. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are both used to slough off dead skin cells and eliminate oil that accumulates on the skin and in pores, according to A lotion or cream featuring one of these medications can help erase the effects of exercise on your skin.


According to, washing your skin shortly after exercising is the best way to prevent acne from developing as a result of your sweating. The longer you wait after working out, the longer sweat and oils have to form blockages in the skin and foster an environment that leads to acne. Even rinsing your skin after a workout can serve as a good interim cleansing until you get home and are able to wash yourself.

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