The goal for many at the gym is to become
more fit and look better. But what if exercising, although makes your body look better, also
causes your face to break out? Does working out cause acne?
Acne is formed when hair follicles, also known as pores, gets clogged up by dead skin cells
and the hair-lubricating oil, called sebum, gets trapped and builds up within the pore.
Hungry anaerobic bacteria feeds off the fatty acids found in the sebum and causes an infection.
The pore then swells and produces your conventional pimple.
Where exercise comes in, predominantly resistance training such as lifting weights, is by increasing
testosterone levels within your body. About 5% of your testosterone, especially the ones
in your hair follicles, reacts with an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase and converts testosterone
into DHT, which is a hormone linked to increasing sebum secretion. More DHT, more sebum, more
clogged pores! But many studies found that, yes it’s true that resistance training will
increase testosterone, but not by much, 30% or so, and it doesn’t last very long, about
15 minutes to an hour. So the increased testosterone and DHT levels shouldn’t cause much trouble
unless you’re extremely vulnerable to acne breakouts to begin with.
Another way that exercise might cause acne is through sweat. Although some might say
that sweat itself can clog your pores, there’s not much evidence behind it. Acne mechanica,
which is a form of acne found in a lot of athletes and soldiers, have been linked to
increased sweat during exercise. However, the sweat alone is not what causes the acne,
but instead the constant friction from clothing or helmets in conjunction with sweat, heat,
and pressure, irritates the pores and causes inflammation.
Sweat has also been linked to the overgrowth of a yeast found in all humans known as mallessezia.
This yeast can also accumulate in your pores and cause acne-like irritations under hot,
humid, and sweaty conditions, something that you’ll most likely find in a gym. But again,
it’s the yeast that does the damage and not the sweat, and also it mainly happens in the
areas of your chest and back, so lucky for your face.
So if you’re worried about exercising causing your breakouts, just make sure you wear well-ventilated
clothing and take your shower right after, and for the most part you’ll be fine.
Have a health and fitness question you want answered? Leave it in the comments below!
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