Treating and Preventing Acne Breakouts During Exercise

By Devi Chettiar, PA-C

It’s common to notice acne getting worse when engaging in a workout routine.  When we exercise, our pores open, we sweat, and this can cause a buildup of bacteria, dirt and oil that clogs pores and aggravates acne.  Even though it sounds like a good excuse to stop working out, exercise really is important to a healthy lifestyle and can even reduce certain types of acne associated with stress.  If you notice that your acne breakouts coincide with exercise, try these tips to keep your skin looking clear.


  1. Start with a clean slate – remove any makeup before working out using a gentle cleanser or a cleansing towelette.
  2. Pull your hair up and away from your face and neck.
  3. Wear a clean COVID-19 mask if working out in a center, and clean workout clothing if you’re prone to body acne.
  4. Choose clothing that is breathable, moisture-wicking, and loose-fitting on acne prone areas.
  5. Clean any exercise equipment that may contact your skin.
  6. If exercising outdoors, choose a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic with a zinc oxide physical blocking agent.  Elta MD UV Clear and UV Sport are two great options.
  7. Use a clean towel to pat off (rather than rubbing off) sweat during your workout.
  8. Clean your skin immediately after your workout.  Use a gentle cleanser or salicylic acid acne pads to clean your face or benzoyl peroxide cleansers for your back and chest.
  9. Remove dirty clothing as soon as possible if you’re prone to body acne.
  10. See a dermatology specialist in our clinic for prescription options and additional tips.


We hope these tips help reduce the occurrence of acne after your workouts. If your acne does not improve, feel free to schedule a visit with us so we can customize a treatment plan for you.

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