Does Working Out Break You Out?

If you find that working out is causing you to break out, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here’s what you can do to minimize the chances of a post-workout breakout.


Working out can be an important way to stay physically and mentally healthy, yet some people experience breakouts and other skin problems after they exercise. Understanding why this may happen can be essential to getting your skin back in balance. In this guide, we’ll explore what may cause issues after working out and potential solutions for preventing problem skin from forming. In particular, we’ll focus on the causes related to sweat, acne-causing bacteria, and chafing or friction issues. We will also discuss how to battle potential breakouts with your skincare routine following a workout. Additionally, this article aims to provide tips on how to treat existing breakouts from working out with topical products or lifestyle changes that could affect your overall health. By being aware of the possible causes for post-exercise breakouts and taking steps to prevent them, you’ll be able to enjoy the many benefits of a good workout without worrying about irritated skin

What Causes Acne?

Acne is a common skin problem that affects people of all ages. While there is no single cause of acne, there are several factors that can contribute to its formation. Sweat, hormones, bacteria, and genetics all contribute to the development of acne. Excess sweating from working out can also be a contributing factor, but it is not the only cause. Let’s find out more about how working out can cause acne.


Hormonal changes occur during puberty and can cause a surge in acne. This can be stress-related as hormones are released due to hormones that travel through the bloodstream. When hormonal changes occur, lipids and sebum production increase, leading to increased oiliness of the skin, clogged pores, and oral bacteria trapped underneath the skin which leads to acne breakouts. Hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) play a role in this surge of hormones that leads to acne breakouts. Additionally, hormonal fluctuations related to menstrual cycles or pregnancy can cause an increase in acne.

It is important to note that certain activities such as working out or sweating can also cause a surge of these hormones and lead to increased breakouts. In order for you to prevent this activity-induced breakout cycle, it’s important to cleanse your skin thoroughly after engaging in physical activity with a gentle cleanser that is specifically formulated for acne prone skin. Additionally, it is recommended you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising as this will help replenish hydration levels and prevent damage and dehydration due to excessive sweating.


Sweat, while necessary to cool the body and prevent overheating, can be irritating to the skin. Sweat is known to block pores and once blocked, sweat prone areas such as the face, chest and back tend to become more prone to acne outbreaks. In order to prevent acne due to sweat it is important to choose loose clothing that allows the skin to breathe, shower soon after exercising, use a non-comedogenic sunscreen when exercising outside and use an oil-free astringent on sweaty areas of the body after showering. Additionally, anyone who is prone to acne should avoid using tight headbands or hats that are constricting and have a tendency of trapping sweat.

Dirt and Bacteria

Dirt and bacteria on the skin is a possible cause of acne. Bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes normally inhabit the skin, and when it accumulates in excess due to excess sebum production (a natural oil our bodies produce) or from dirt and makeup left on the skin, it can clog pores and cause swelling. This clogging can lead to hard, inflammatory bumps or zits. It is important to use a gentle cleanser when washing your face if you are prone to acne and make sure you are taking off all of your makeup after working out so you don’t trap bacteria in your pores. Sweating can also increase inflammation when it carries bacteria deep into the skin, so it’s important to shower as soon as possible after exercising. Additionally, be sure to use products meant for acne-prone skin that won’t clog pores.

How to Prevent Acne from Working Out

Exercising regularly is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes it can cause breakouts. Working out increases the temperature and oil production in your skin, which can clog your pores, resulting in acne. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent acne breakouts while still being able to exercise. Let’s take a look at how to protect your skin while still getting the health benefits of working out.

Keep Your Skin Clean

To avoid breakouts caused by sweat, it is essential to keep your skin clean. Before and after exercising, be sure to thoroughly wash your face as sweat accumulates dirt and bacteria that can cause puffiness, redness, and of course pimples. Opt for a gentle cleanser rather than one that is heavily fragranced and full of irritants. Choose something specially made for your skin type to get the best results.

After washing, use a toner or astringent to help remove excess oil while keeping your pores unclogged. After toning, use a light moisturizer with SPF protection during the day to keep your skin hydrated without adding shine or causing clogged pores. And when you are finished working out, shower as soon as you can afterwards! Using a mild body soap will help eliminate any oil clinging on from the sweat that may have built up from the gym session. Moisturizing regularly will also help in preventing acne due to dryness on the skin from exercise.

Change Your Clothes After Working Out

Working out is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can also lead to post-workout breakouts. To help prevent pimples from developing after exercise, it is important to change your clothes or activewear immediately after working out. Sweat and oils that are released during exercise can contribute to skin irritation and block your pores, which can cause acne breakouts. Additionally, activewear that remains sweaty for too long will result in bacteria being trapped against the skin where clogs form easily and are difficult to clear away.

Try keeping some spare clothes with you at the gym so you can change into something dry right after a workout. It is also helpful to invest in breathable, quick-drying athletic fabrics such as lycra, CoolMax or polypropylene to reduce skin irritation and help keep sweat away from the body. Additionally, cotton shirts may absorb sweat but they will take longer to dry off than other fabrics, making them less suitable for wearing during exercise. Take care of your skin by following these simple steps and enjoy a healthy physical workout without worrying about having a post-workout breakout!

Use Non-Comedogenic Products

One important step to reducing the risks of working out causing acne is using products that are labeled “non-comedogenic”, which means they are specifically designed to not clog your pores when applied to your skin. Cleansers and makeup labeled non-comedogenic can help you maintain a healthier complexion before, during and after workouts. Before starting a workout, cleanse your skin with a mild soap or acne-fighting cleanser and apply an oil-free moisturizer that is also non-comedogenic. As with any workout, it’s also important to wear clean clothing and be sure to shower shortly after you finish exercising.

It may also help to consider pre/post workout skincare treatments that may reduce damage from sweat while cleansing the pores of impurities like dirt, oil and sweat secreted through normal bodily functions when working out. Gentle exfoliation such as cleansers containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) may help draw out impurities while promoting cell turnover for softer skin. Dedicated pore clearing serums designed for sensitive blemish prone skin can provide serious relief and reduce the risk of breakouts due to exercise.


In conclusion, the answer to the question of whether working out breaks you out is a resounding no. Working out can be beneficial to your skin as long as you take appropriate measures such as changing clothes and wiping down exercise equipment after using it. It may also be helpful to consider what types of materials your clothing is made out of, and to use an appropriate moisturizer after working out. While there are many factors that can affect your skin during exercise, with adequate preparation and care, it’s possible to keep breakouts at bay and enjoy healthy skin while exercising.

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