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Can Exercise Cause Acne?

Do you notice the appearance of acne when you exercise? Can exercise cause acne? If you are wondering about this, then do read this post and discover by yourself.

Can Exercise Cause Acne?

Can Exercise Cause Acne?

Is it that when you exercise, you break out? Do you feel it is because of the sweat on your face that causes acne? Well! Then, you should know that sweat caused due to exercise is not at all the problem. Sweat is simply water and salt and you really do not require washing it off with soap. Only plain water face wash would do if you feel sticky due to the sweat after workout. So, sweat by itself does not cause acne. However, there are some other things that might be causing acne when you exercise. Let us take a look at them.

The Makeup You Wear While Exercising Can Cause Acne:

So, now that we know sweat is not the problem; what could be the cause of acne when you exercise? Sweat is not exactly the problem. However, the makeup you hold on your face during exercise, is the problem. In case you are wearing makeup while exercising, it can get trapped under dirt and oil and result in acne, and cysts. So, before going to the gym or before exercising, you must remove all your makeup. If at all you do not feel going out without makeup, you must try the makeup products that are quite less likely to clog skin pores.

When you wear makeup and exercise, and when you sweat, you wipe it away. And when you wipe the sweat off, you are pushing all the dirt that was present on the face that you didn’t remove before exercising, including the makeup, dirt, dead cells, oil, debris, air pollution in to the skin pores. This in turn causes acne.[1]

Lack Of Healthy Foods When Exercising Can Cause Acne:

Diet could be one of the biggest problems in relation to your exercise and acne. Lack of body strength, especially in the form of minerals, vitamins and energy or lack of healthy foods when exercising could result in acne and pimples. You must also take enough of protein, fluid and carbohydrates. So, it is always important for you to focus on your diet and you take foods and drinks for enough energy when you are training. Moreover, you need to relax after you exercise, so as to avoid acne.[2]

Clothing That You Wear When Exercising Can Cause Acne:

Clothing that your wear while exercising, can also cause acne. Tight or restrictive cloths can irritate your skin and spread bacteria into the skin pores and this is really a bad idea to wear tight fitting clothes while exercising. Moreover, some materials, such as polyester and other man-made fabrics can also trap oils and bacteria next to your skin and increase the risk of acne. So, always wear looser clothing and also choose fabrics that wick moisture away and also help it to evaporate, especially cotton and some other natural fabrics; while workouts.[3]

Yoga Mat And Other Gym Equipments Can Cause Acne:

Yoga mat that your body, hands, feet or face remain in touch with, while exercising; can contain several bacteria in it. When you exercise on the mat, these bacteria can reach your skin, face, and also cause breakouts or acne. So, always make use of a clean and personal yoga mat and also remember to wipe the mat properly before and after every use.

Like yoga mat, several other gym equipments also harbor dirt and bacteria. And when you use them, you might get the bacteria into your skin and this may result in acne or pimples. So, always wipe down the gym equipments before using. You must also ensure not to touch your face and other areas that are more prone to breaking out while using the equipments.[4]

Tips To Help You Reduce The Risk Of Acne Due To Exercise:

Workout Without Any Makeup:

For this, always cleanse your skin before exercising. Keeping your face clean before workouts would help you prevent break outs.

Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face:

This is because you hands must be having bacteria on it that might cause acne when you touch your face.

Cleanse Well After Your Workout:

You must clean your face properly along with your hands so as to keep away from bacteria that might cause post-workout breakout.

Exfoliate More Often:

In case you are sweating and washing up regularly, step up your exfoliation and look if by any chance help. Dry skin brushing can actually be beneficial.

Choose The Moisturizer Wisely:

Common moisturizes might contain preservatives, fragrances and some other ingredients that can actually aggravate and can irritate your skin, thus increasing the risk of acne and pimples. So, always choose the moisturizer wisely.

Exercise In Cooler Environment:

You must exercise in cooler environment. Try walking or jogging during cool morning or evening hours, or try swimming.[5]


Exercise is good for skin. So, do not skip exercise. It improves the overall health as well as your skin health. Hence it is not fair to say that exercise can cause acne.

However, wearing makeup before exercising, using contaminated yoga mat or gym equipments, tight clothing, and inappropriate or unhealthy diet when exercising, can result in breakouts or acne. So, try to avoid these things and exercise in a healthier way to keep away from acne.

Talk to your dermatologist in case you have serious issue of acne. Your fitness trainer or yoga guide can also help you know about the best possible ways to improve your skin health through yoga and exercise.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2022

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