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How to Prevent Breakouts Caused by Exercising

You Asked: Working Out and Breaking Out

Hi Fit,
I've been running in the woods near my house since last Spring and love it so much that I've vowed to keep it up through the Winter. It gets cold where I live so I have to bundle up, but the past few weeks I've noticed that my skin is breaking out on my back and chest. Maybe I am sweating more? I didn't have an issue with this before. Is there any way to prevent this embarrassing problem and still continue running outside?
—Irked About Acne

Kudos to you for keeping up with your outdoor runs even in the chilly temps. I'm sure the fresh air is exhilarating, but I can understand your frustration with what's happening to your skin. I have some ideas to help avoid any more irritation, so


  • Don't overdress. While it may be frigid out, you don't need to wear a ton of layers. Not only will you become uncomfortably overheated, but your body will sweat to cool you down. This can cause pimples, and will also make you feel colder.
  • Don't suffocate your skin with polyester. You'll have to pick up a Winter running wardrobe that's made of wicking material such as merino wool or polypropylene. This fabric will pull moisture away from your skin rather than trapping it in, which is what's causing your breakouts. A wicking bra, tank top or fitted shirt, and a long sleeve wicking shirt (I am a fan of this shirt by IceBreaker) will make a huge difference.
  • After your run, be sure to get out of your clothes ASAP and hit the showers. Use a gentle body soap that's made for dealing with body acne. Don't scrub your skin with a loofah, as that will only exacerbate the issue.
  • If your skin is dry because of the Winter weather, be sure the body lotion you use is noncomedogenic (won't clog pores).
  • If you're still noticing flare-ups, use an on-the-spot acne medication on trouble spots.

If any of you fellow runners have other running questions, post them in the RunningSugar community group.

Image Source: Getty
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notinthemood notinthemood 7 years
I always get some acne on my back from working out. I'm pretty sure it's because of the sweat being trapped against my skin for so long. I've seen an improvement since changing sports bras and shirts between running and floor work/weights though.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I'm glad I don't have an issue with this, but my husband does. Exfoliating your back and body when you shower can help and maybe try using a fragrance-free laundry detergent...sometimes perfumes can irritate your skin.
ckeller825 ckeller825 7 years
How about under the arms? I've started running recently at my gym on the treadmill, and normally I wear very thin cotton shirts or dry-fit tanks, but I'm still getting large red bumps, under my arms. Is this caused by my skin rubbing together constantly? Does stuff like Body Glide help prevent this?
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