We’ve all been there. You’re changing in the gym locker room after a long workout when you notice a weird rash on your skin or a nasty chafe under your arms.
Exercise is great for your body and mind, but embarrassing and pesky skin situations can be cause for concern. Dr. Rania Agha, a dermatologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., suggests the following tips to help prevent some of the most common and troublesome skin conditions so you can still enjoy your workout:
- Skin infections: With many people using the same gym equipment on a daily basis, treadmills, bikes and ellipticals are full of germs and bacteria that can cause skin infections. “Wiping down the machine before and after use and hand washing can help prevent the transmission of bacterial, viral or fungal infections,” says Dr. Agha.
- Heat rash: When working out in hot, humid environments, heat rash is common. Especially when exercising outdoors, finding a shady spot to rest, wearing breathable clothing and staying hydrated are important. If you find yourself developing heat rash, apply a cold compress to alleviate some of the discomfort.
- Hyperpigmentation: Like any outdoor activity, it is important to wear sunscreen. UV exposure can cause serious damage to skin and an increased risk of skin cancer, so lather up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. And don’t forget to reapply!
- Body acne: Workout clothes can be very fashionable and comfortable, but oftentimes, this tight-fitting apparel traps in sweat and bacteria, which can cause body acne. The best way to prevent acne is to shower immediately after exercising or at least change into fresh clothes if a shower is not readily available.
- Chafing: These stinging red blotches appear when clothing rubs against skin or skin rubs against skin. To prevent chafing, keep your skin dry by applying talcum powder to areas that get sweaty, lubricate hot spot areas to reduce friction and wear proper-fitting, dry-fit clothes.
- Athlete’s foot: Rinsing off in public showers at the gym may be convenient, but these showers are full of fungi that can lead to athlete’s foot, a skin infection that causes itching, stinging and burning between toes. “Avoid walking barefoot and dry your feet thoroughly after showering to prevent this type of infection,” says Dr. Agha.