Exercise and Acne: Does Exercise Cause Acne Breakouts?

With a new year, comes a new list of resolutions. A common resolution for most is to exercise more and to get in better shape than the previous year. Working out has immense benefits both physically and mentally. Some of these benefits include lowered blood pressure, lowered feelings of anxiety and depression, and improved heart health. When it comes specifically to your skin, exercise does benefit it. However, it can also cause unwanted breakouts if you do not properly care for your skin before, during, and after your workouts.

Working out causes increased blood flow which helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin. This helps promote collagen production in the skin and encourages new skin cell growth, which makes skin healthy and glowing. However, exercise also causes you to sweat which creates an environment that promotes bacterial growth and acne breakouts on the skin. To prevent these exercise-related breakouts, we have provided just a few tips below to help keep your skin clear while still reaching your fitness goals!


Before you exercise you should:

  • Take off any makeup that you are wearing. If you work out and sweat with makeup on, the products will seep further into your skin and clog your pores.
  • Wear clean workout clothes. If you are wearing old clothing, the bacteria and dead skin cells on these items can also end up clogging your pores. You should workout in loose, dry-fit clothing to prevent bacteria overgrowth.
  • If you have long hair, pull it back. The oils from your hair and your hair products can be transferred onto your skin and will encourage breakouts. By pulling it back, you will reduce this risk.
  • If you plan to workout outdoors, apply a non-comedogenic sunscreen before going to prevent sun damage.

During the workout:

  • Use a clean towel to wash off your sweat. Pat your skin dry, do not rub as this can cause irritation.
  • Do not share protective equipment like helmets.
  • Wipe off gym equipment. Shared equipment can have bacteria and oil all over it that can spread onto your skin and cause breakouts.

After the workout:

  • If you can shower immediately, do so. Rinsing away the bacteria on your body and face will reduce your risk of breaking out.
  • If you do not have access to a shower, make sure that you wash your face right away in a sink. Use an oil-free, fragrance-free, mild cleanser.
  • Change out of your workout clothes as soon as possible to get the bacteria and oil off your skin. If you work out and stay in your tight, sweaty clothes, you may develop a fungal acne infection called Malassezia. Malassezia can be treated with oral antifungal medications, but it can also be misdiagnosed resulting in improper treatment. Again, to reduce any risk of this infection, always change out of your workout clothes.

If you are still struggling with breakouts or other irritating dermatology skin conditions after exercising, you should reach out to your dermatologist. They will be able to diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan for you. Additionally, if you have any questions about acne treatment or any other skin conditions, contact your local dermatology pharmacy to get the answers you need!


This blog is based on research and/or other scientific articles and is written by our experienced Chief Strategy Officer and Pharmacist, Ronak Desai. This blog is fact checked by our educated Pharmacist in Charge, Darshan Patel, who additionally runs our Apotheco Manhattan location.

Here at Apotheco Pharmacy Group, our goal is to provide the most up to date and accurate information on health and dermatology related topics. We do this to ensure our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All blogs undergo an extensive review process before posted.

This blog contains trusted sources. All sources are listed at the bottom of this article with hyperlinks that take you directly to the source.