Submit your skincare questions to Dr. Agnes, CEO of Herborium and natural medicine expert
There seems to be a super-frustrating
trade-off for gym junkies like me who love working out. Hear me out—I'm proud
of my physique, but the thing is, working out on the regular is directly
related to how much body acne I'm dealing with. My only comfort? I know I'm not
alone! Almost any person that works out—whether it's yoga, cycling, or
weightlifting—KNOWS that there are going to be pimples that pop up on their
chest, back or even on their bum, depending on the sport they do.
The truth is, there are three major reasons
why body acne is so much more common in athletes. The causes are hormones,
sweat, and bacteria. These issues don't only affect athletes—some of these
might be the reasons that you have body acne too, so read on ahead to find out
how to beat body acne.
Hormones play a bigger part in body acne than
a lot of people realize! When it comes to strength-building and weightlifting,
the male hormone testosterone does a lot of work to boost muscle mass and
encourage growth for a perfectly sculpted physique.
The thing is, it’s also the number one hormone
that causes acne—and yes, that’s in both men and women! An increase in
testosterone levels is linked to excess sebum production (oilier skin) and an
increased likelihood of congestion and breakouts.
However, it’s not just testosterone that could
be to blame when it comes to hormone-induced body acne—hormones in an
incredibly common workout supplement are also linked to body acne. If you don’t
know what I’m talking about yet, it’s whey protein. A lot of athletes follow up
their workouts with a quick protein shake, right? 99% of the time, protein
powders contain whey, a dairy-derived protein source that causes spikes in
There are two possible reasons why whey is
associated with acne—the first is simply because it’s dairy. A definitive
relationship between dairy and acne is still being researched, but it’s thought
that the hormones present in dairy milk products can cause hormone imbalances
that lead to acne.
The second hypothesis for whey causing acne
has to do with the activation of Insulin-Like Growth Factor, aka IGF-1. IGF-1
is naturally produced by our bodies (spiking during puberty) to help us grow,
plus it's also no surprise that that's around the time we have the most skin
issues. However, IGF-1 production naturally drops off and stabilizes as we
become adults—that is until we eat foods that boost its production. Higher
IGF-1 levels are linked with increased sebum production and skin congestion—a
surefire recipe for acne, anywhere on the body!
Sweating while working out is unavoidable—if
you’re not huffing and puffing and sweating, is the workout even worth it? The
thing about sweating is that yeah, it is a little gross, but it’s essential for
preventing overheating and is also responsible for helping the body release
How is it linked to body acne?
Well, there are a couple of other factors that
combine with sweat to contribute to body acne—but sweat is the magic
ingredient. First off, if you’re not showering right after going to the gym,
that’s what could be causing your body breakouts. (Also, that’s a little
When we sweat, it also accumulates whatever is
on our skin—sebum, dirt, and bacteria. It all builds up, especially at friction
points with our clothes such as straps and waistbands. There's no point being
germaphobic about it and avoiding exercise because of this because it's easily
treated by showering immediately after exercise to help wash away any
breakout-causing sweat and skin cells—at least, that's if you're doing that in
the first place.
So what’s the fix? Showering right after a
workout. If you really need it, throw in some medicated products and
exfoliation in there for super-smooth skin. Plus, how good does it feel to take
a cold shower after exercise? Okay, even if the showers at the gym aren’t up to
your standard—at least change into clean clothes before heading home to
This is when it counts to look around at the
machines and equipment being used. At a gym, while it’s ideal for everyone to
be wiping equipment down after themselves—do you really trust that everyone’s
actually doing that?
I didn't think so.
When a gym machine has had sweaty hands,
backs, and legs pressed into it you can bet that it’s absolutely covered in
everyone’s sweat and bacteria. Gross, right? Dirty gym equipment does more than
just cause body acne, too—it can cause rashes and other kinds of skin
The solution? Use wipes before AND after using
gym equipment to stop the spread of nasties that could be causing your body
acne. However, it’s not just other
peoples’ bacteria that could be causing body acne—it could be your own! If
you work out or do yoga at home on a mat, think about the last time that you
Have you ever?
There's a reason that your mat smells funky
when you're doing downward dog—and that's from YOUR bacteria-build up over
time, so don't forget to disinfect it regularly to halt body breakouts in their
It can also linger in clothes too, so every so
often add a cup of white vinegar to your laundry instead of softener. It
deodorizes and kills bacteria for gym clothes that are fresh, clean, and not
going to cause breakouts! Now that’s a win-win.
However, the best way to get rid of body acne
for good is from within, using a product that fortifies skin from the inside
and stops acne in its tracks. For persistent athletic body acne, AcnEase can be
used for a 6-week course to get rid of current breakouts and stop more from
forming. Because the skin on our bodies is thicker and tends to have more
deep-set, inflamed acne, it's crucial to treat it from the inside out as well
as taking steps to minimize it in the first place for clear, healthy skin.