Your skin can be sensitive to the environment around you. Female athletes may be prone to problematic skin and face skin care challenges brought on by environmental
exposure, sweating, bacteria, dryness and other irritations.
Many athletes spend a great deal of time outdoors and must be aware of the damage that the sun can do. In a recent article published in the US News & World Report:
Health, 78% of adult runners admitted to skipping sunscreen on their daily run. The sun’s UV rays cause damage that can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkles, fine lines,
age spots and even skin cancer.
The first step in fighting damaging UV rays is applying sunscreen to all exposed skin surfaces. Researchers agree that the SPF rating is not completely accurate; therefore
you should look for the most effective ingredient in UV protection, Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. Choose a sunscreen which provides broad spectrum protection from
both UVA and UVB rays, such as DermaSpaRx Sun Protection System.
Many athletes will apply sunscreen before their activity, but forget to re-apply every two hours as the day goes on, they sweat, etc. Even waterproof sunscreens need to be re-applied throughout your sun exposure.
In addition to keeping protected with sunscreens, make sure you shield your eyes, top of your head and face with a hat and sunglasses. While providing a shield from the sun, they will also help prevent squinting, which can lead to wrinkles and fine lines.
Swimmers who do their workouts in chlorinated pools are likely to wash off the skin’s natural oils and sebum. Lipids and sebum are the skin’s natural moisturizer, protectant and lubricant. You need to replenish the skin’s oils with a good moisturizer or you may experience excessive dryness, redness, irritation and inflammation that may contribute to acne breakouts.
Face & Body Acne
Perspiration and tight fitting clothes can combine to lead to body acne. The trapped perspiration and rubbing against the skin leads to clogged pores and blemishes. Body acne can be more resistant to treatment than facial acne because it is more difficult to reach and to keep clean. However, treating acne on the face and body are similar. Pay special attention to the skin trapped beneath clothing items like sweatbands and hats, as these can increase the plugging of your oil glands. Wear loose workout clothing and apply an oil control serum to your face before you exercise to further prevent the clogging of your pores. Cleanse your skin both before and after your workout, and use a cleanser with AHA on your face. Follow cleansing with a light moisturizer to help prevent skin from drying out.
Wind can be harsh on your skin, stripping away natural oils and causing irritation and chapping. Covering your skin with a physical barrier such as gloves, a scarf or ski mask will help prevent exposure. In addition, use a balm or thick moisturizer as an additional barrier and to promote moisture retention.
Skin dryness is common among female athletes, especially in the winter months and arid climates. Low humidity causes dry, irritated skin that may itch and flake off. Areas
of the skin which are thinner, such as the face, hands and feet, are more susceptible to dryness. Protect your skin before heading out into dry air and replenish your skin after your workout with an intense moisturizer like Hydrating B Serum. Be sure to remove wet clothing as soon as possible so that the effect to your skin is limited.
Chapped lips are also a common problem during dry winter months and in arid climates. Apply a lip balm or emollient-based lip moisturizer to soothe chapped lips and
prevent dryness. Lip balms can also prevent windburn and contain SPF to prevent sun damage.
Exposure to extreme heat can cause many problems for your skin, including heat rash and prickly heat, which is common among athletes. According to Princeton University
Health Services, prickly heat occurs as a rash on the chest and arms when pores become clogged, leading to overheating. Take breaks from the heat and wear loose
clothing, as the condition is exacerbated by friction.
Don’t let the damage you are doing to your skin outweigh the good you are doing for your body. Be aware of the environmental factors you are dealing with when you exercise outdoors and do your best to prevent these factors from affecting your skin.
To your skin health,
Dr. Asarch, M.D.
Header image credit: Lululemon Athletica, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/4791725474/in/set-72157624364068235