Online Exclusives

When Skin Gets a Workout

By Tom Branna , Editorial Director | April 3, 2013

Heading off to the gym?

We’re more than a quarter of the way through 2013 and by now most people have forgotten their New Year’s Resolution to make use of that gym membership. But for consumers who are determined to shed pounds and get fit and healthy, they must take care of their skin, explained leading dermatologists during a press event sponsored by the Women’s Dermatologic Society.

According to Drs. Diane Berson and Kavita Mariwalla, the gym harbors more germs than most people realize. They say that gym rats are at a greater risk for fungus, acne (face, chest and back) and rashes, than folks who get their exercise in the great outdoors.


 
Too much sweat or moisture can promote acne.
The dermatologists noted that fungus could be found in many gym surfaces, including benches, lockers and towels.

To reduce the risk of fungal infection, athletes should:
• Bring their own towels and bleach them when they get home;
• Use Selsun Blue shampoo (with the red cap) as a body wash;
• Use an antibacterial wipe and wipe down all handles, mats and bars before using them; and
• Wear shower slippers, as Athlete’s Foot is easily transmitted in public shower areas.

The dermatologists noted that acne around the hairline and on the chest is common in people who work out. To reduce the incidence of acne, they recommend showering immediately after a working out and using a benzoyl peroxide body wash. If body acne persists, consumers should visit a dermatologist who can prescribe an antibiotic.

 
Not so hot. Spas can be a source of infection.
Drs. Berson and Mariwalla also noted that too much sweat or moisture might cause a rash below the breast. To reduce the incidence of rashes, they recommend using a hair dryer on the cold setting and dry the area thoroughly after working out to make sure the area is extra dry. If the area is still moist, they recommend a powder such as Gold Bond AF.

They also noted that the water fountain could be a source of contamination. To avoid problems, the pair recommends letting the water run for 15 seconds before drinking from it, bringing water from home and never putting one’s mouth directly on the water fountain faucet.

Pools and hot tubs can also cause infections, according to the dermatologists. Folliculitis can be caused by hot tub use. To reduce the chance of contacting inflammation of the hair follicles, they recommend using antibacterial soap. But if little bumps develop on the skin, it requires a trip to the dermatologist.

Getting fit is always a great idea, but be sure to take these simple precautions to avoid damaging your skin.
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