Does Working Out Give You Acne?

A lot of people believe that working out gives you acne, but is this actually true? We’ll take a look at the scientific evidence to find out.


Working out is a great way to stay healthy, fit, and energized. But when it comes to our skin, breaking a sweat can have unexpected consequences. It is common for people to experience breakouts after exercising due to the mix of sweat and bacteria that combine on the skin’s surface. To better understand this relationship between working out and acne, let’s dive into what causes it and how best to prevent it from happening.

What Causes Acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition that affects a majority of people. It often causes spots or pimples to appear on the face, chest, back, neck, and shoulders. There are many different causes of acne, including hormones, genetics, poor hygiene, and certain medications. It has also been suggested that working out can lead to breakouts. Let’s take a closer look at how working out can affect acne.

Hormonal Changes

The physiological cause of acne is typically due to hormonal changes and imbalances. These fluctuations can be attributed to puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause. During these phases of life, the body produces significant amounts of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Because hormones are highly volatile, this increase can cause alterations in the levels of sebum — an oily substance that lubricates and hydrates skin. Too much sebum can block pores on the face, neck, chest and back resulting in breakouts commonly known as pimples or zits.

Excess dead skin cells from not exfoliating properly can also contribute to acne by clogging up pores on the surface of your skin, trapping sebum inside them. Sweating during any kind of physical exertion can make this worse by further blocking pores with oils mixed with dirt and bacteria – hence why working out might be causing breakouts for some athletes. Keeping your skin clean with a gentle cleanser while covering up during exercise are two tips that may help reduce the chances of developing acne due to intense physical activity or other lifestyle changes.


Stress has a direct impact on skin health, and it can worsen existing blemishes and even cause acne breakouts. Studies have shown that high levels of cortisol and other stress hormones can trigger the release of sebum, an oil-like substance produced in the skin’s sebaceous glands. When too much sebum accumulates on the surface of the skin, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and other irritants that can cause acne.

In addition to triggering acne breakouts, stress can make them worse by leading to inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or damage, but too much of it can aggravate already inflamed areas, making breakouts harder to treat. Stress also interferes with sleep; when we don’t get enough restful hours each night we are more likely to experience breakouts as our body isn’t able to naturally repair itself while we are resting.

On top of all this, stress increases hormonal fluctuations in both women and men, which can lead to excess production of acne-causing hormones such as testosterone. Increased testosterone leads to an increase in sebum production, producing excess oil which blocks pores and creates an environment suitable for bacteria that leads to further outbreaks.
Fortunately there are many ways to reduce stress – from getting adequate rest each night and avoiding triggers like junk food or alcohol; engaging in calming activities such as yoga or meditation; or taking up mindful hobbies like gardening or drawing – all of these approaches are great ways help manage your stress levels so you can keep your skin healthy!

Poor Diet

Poor diet can have a significant impact on skin health, which can lead to acne. While genetics play an important role, there is evidence that suggests poor dietary habits can make existing acne worse or contribute to the formation of new blemishes. The most frequent types of foods that may be linked to worsening acne are those with a high glycemic index, such as sugary and processed foods.

Foods with a high glycemic index cause insulin levels to spike in the body – this can lead to an increase in hormones responsible for oil production, which clogs pores and increases the opportunity for bacteria and inflammation. Additionally, foods like red meat, dairy and processed white breads may be linked to worsening acne due to their fat content.

Eating more nutritious alternatives instead may help skin heal more quickly, no matter what kind of acne you’re dealing with. Focusing on skin-friendly sources of protein like egg whites, beans and fish provides essential nutrients while keeping your body’s hormone balance in check – all potential contributors toward better skin health. Additionally adding healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados as well as vitamins A and E have been known to contribute positively towards reducing acne severity over time. Knowing which nutrients are good for your skin will empower you when it comes to making healthier eating decisions that could reduce or prevent further breakouts.


Acne is primarily caused by genetics and hormone imbalances, although factors such as stress, medications, and lifestyle choices can be aggravating factors. Genetics play a major role in how your body produces oil during puberty — excess oil production coupled with increased hormone activity is often the trigger for acne. Sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands, can clog pores which leads to inflammation and acne formation.

Hormonal changes are often to blame for teenage and adult acne, as well as premenstrual breakouts. Hormones such as testosterone increase the production of sebum; an excess of this creates a breeding ground for bacteria which can contribute to outbreaks of acne. Many birth control pills improve symptoms in women due their hormone regulation properties.

Lifestyle choices like diet, stress levels, sleeping habits, exercise habits, alcohol use and smoking can exacerbate existing acne or be responsible for breakouts when combined with other contributing factors. Additionally certain medications such as steroids or certain types of antibiotics can increase chances of experiencing outbreaks or worsening existing ones since they affect the balance of hormones in your system.

Does Working Out Cause Acne?

Exercise is known to be beneficial for physical, mental, and emotional health. However, many people have reported that when they exercise their skin breaks out. Is this because of the sweat and the friction that comes with working out? Is there a connection between exercise and acne? Let’s look at the evidence and find out.


Sweat is another factor that contributes to acne caused by working out. Sweat clogs the pores, and along with collected dirt and oil, can cause breakouts. This form of acne — known as “acne mechanica” — is especially common among athletes because their skin is constantly exposed to sweat, pressure, and other types of physical stress.

To reduce this type of acne, it’s important to clean the skin thoroughly after each exercise session. Showering immediately after a workout can help remove sweat, bacteria, and other contaminants from the compromised pores before they have a chance to cause an acne breakout.
Additionally, using an antibacterial cleanser when showering can kill any lingering bacteria for further protection: use non-comedogenic products such as tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide when you’re cleaning your face following a workout session for optimal results

Clogged Pores

Excessive sweating combined with the friction of clothing or equipment can lead to clogged pores and, as a result, acne. When sweat mixes with dirt and bacteria on the skin’s surface, it can block pores. This blockage can cause inflammation and breakouts in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Working out with dirty hair or sweaty clothing can also contribute to acne flare-ups.

Acne caused by exercise is known as “acne mechanica,” and commonly occurs on areas that are subject to friction from tight fitting or damp clothing. It usually occurs on the chest, back or shoulders — areas that are already prone to breakouts. If you have excessive sweating due to high intensity workouts, make sure to change out of your workout clothes immediately after exercise so bacteria from sweat does not stay on your skin for too long.


When you exercise, wear clothing that discourages friction and try to minimize skin rubbing against skin or fabric. Friction against the skin can increase inflammation in affected areas, and stimulate oil production, both of which can lead to acne flare-ups. This is particularly true when it comes to acne mechanica – an inflammation of the pores caused by repetitive pressure or friction on skin. Some of the most common causes of this condition include straps or tight collars on uniforms, spending a lot of time playing musical instruments and wearing backpacks or heavy sports equipment like helmets, basketball pads and face guards. To avoid this kind of acne, look for workout gear made from breathable materials and opt for vented sills whenever possible—mesh lining is also a great option. Make sure helmets, chin straps and other pieces fit correctly but don’t bind your skin too tightly. Clean your equipment often, change sweaty pad covers regularly and ensure that your face guard isn’t pressing against your forehead too hard when you practice sports so it won’t irritate any existing breakouts.

Preventing Breakouts

Working out can often lead to breakouts on the skin. This is because the sweat that is produced during exercise provides an ideal environment for bacteria to breed, resulting in clogged pores. To reduce the chances of getting acne from working out, it is important to take some preventive measures. Here, we will discuss how you can prevent breakouts from occurring when you exercise.

Keep Your Skin Clean

To ensure that working out doesn’t cause breakouts, make sure you follow a few simple tips to keep your skin clean before and after you exercise.

First, before you begin exercising, always take a shower. Not only will it make sure you stay fresh for the duration of your workout, but it will also help keep acne-causing bacteria away from your skin. If possible, try to use an oil-free body cleanser so as not to add any additional oils to the mix which could contribute to breakouts.

Once your workout is complete, make sure to shower again immediately after so that sweat and dirt do not sit on your skin for too long. If available, use a medicated wash or scrub with salicylic acid – this will help remove bacteria and dead cells that could result in breakouts. Afterward, finish with an oil-free moisturizer or toner which has antibacterial properties and can help further reduce bacteria on the skin surface.

Wear Breathable Clothing

Working out in breathable clothing is important for keeping your body free from acne and other skin irritations. Try to avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes which can easily create friction and trap sweat, oils and bacteria against your skin. Instead, opt for moisture-wicking clothing made from fabrics such as polyester, spandex, or nylon which pulls sweat away from the body and helps regulate body temperature without creating constricting or abrasive friction. These materials are also better at preventing the growth of bacteria as well. Additionally, it’s a good idea to wash or change your workout clothes after each session to prevent breakouts caused by bacteria buildup on damp clothing.

Take Shorter Showers

It can be tempting to take long hot showers after an intense workout, but this can actually cause breakouts. While sweat is key to cooling off during exercise, it’s important to rinse the sweat off your skin as soon as possible. Longer hot showers can often irritate the skin which can lead to breakouts. When possible, opt for shorter cooler showers after a workout and avoid using products with highly fragranced soaps and body washes that could further irritate your skin. Be sure to opt for a gentle cleanser and only wash acne-prone areas such as the face, neck and chest with lukewarm water. Finally, pat dry your skin instead of rubbing it with a towel- excess friction could lead to irritation or damage your pores which could trigger a breakout.

Use Non-Comedogenic Products

Using non-comedogenic products during and after your workout is an important factor in preventing acne breakouts. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, comedogenic ingredients are known to block pores and cause flare ups, so avoiding them is key. When working out, choose cosmetics or skincare products that are labeled as “non-comedogenic,” meaning they do not clog your pores.

It’s also important to look for oil-free products that won’t add extra sebum production on top of sweat from exercise. Many athletes prefer using an antibacterial cleanser or an over-the-counter acne cream containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid after their workout for a deep cleanse. Additionally, refrain from covering your face with any heavy formulas that won’t let the skin breathe and may cause further irritations. If you must wear makeup while working out, make sure it is minimal with only light coverage.


Although there is no definitive answer to the question of whether working out can lead to acne, there are several factors that could increase your chances of having breakouts. Sweat, humidity, friction on the skin from clothing and from interacting with gym equipment, and other sources of irritation can all be potential triggers for acne.

It is recommended that if you experience more frequent breakouts after working out, you should make some lifestyle modifications in order to reduce your risk of acne. This includes thoroughly cleansing your skin before and after workouts to remove sweat and dirt; keeping hair off your face; showering immediately after exercising; changing out of sweaty clothes as soon as possible; wearing loose-fitting and breathable clothing; avoiding the use of oily cosmetics around workout areas; using a sweatband or headband during exercise to keep sweat away from the face; avoiding touching your face at all times during exercise sessions; using light weight carisoprodol camphorated oil during warm-up exercises before going full-on with cardio or bodyweight exercises.

Ultimately, it’s important to find what works for you in terms of diet, hygiene routines and exercise intensity when aiming for healthy skin. If you continue to have problems with breakout afterwards it could be best to seek advice from a doctor or dermatologist depending on the severity of the issue.

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