As awesome as exercise is, it’s not an activity without side effects. You’ll find that workouts come with problems like fatigue, sore muscles, aching joints, and an increased risk of injuries. But did you know that your workout can even cause skin problems? Here are a few of the skin problems you may suffer as a result of your exercise program:
Thigh Chafing/Heat Rash
As you run, walk, or jog, your thighs tend to rub together. For those with a bit of extra body fat (the overweight/obese), the excess fat on your thighs can generate so much friction that you actually irritate the skin and cause inflammation. This is known as “chafing”, or a heat rash. The worst thing about this problem is that there’s not much you can do about it. You can try to wear special running shorts or apply Vaseline on your thighs, but it will only do so much to prevent the friction. If you have a problem with chafing, you may need to find a new form of exercise until you get rid of enough body fat that your thighs no longer rub together.
This is a common problem among people who exercise in high heat and humidity. When you move, the folds of your clothes rub against your skin, creating friction and damaging the pores and hair follicles. You end up with a rash that looks like a handful of zits, or small pink/red dots. To prevent this problem, wear loose clothing that won’t rub against your skin, and take a break every now and then to cool off. Avoid working out in the high heat and humidity!
This is a surprisingly common side effect of working out at a gym, along with hundreds of other sweating people. The more people who use the same exercise machines, the more their sweat, dead skin cells, and skin oils accumulate on the machine, promoting the growth of bacteria and germs. When you touch the machines, those bacteria and germs are spread to you. The result is an increased risk of skin infections. The best way to avoid the problem is to wipe down any machine before AND after you use it, and avoid touching your face or mouth with your dirty hands.
The more time you spend outdoors, the more sun your skin soaks up. While this can help you get a beautiful golden tan, it can also cause your skin to soak up too much sunlight. Excessive exposure to UV light can lead to hyperpigmentation, including dark brown spots (not moles or skin tags) where melanin clumps together. If you’re not careful, you could end up with melanoma thanks to all the time you spent working out under the hot sun. To avoid this problem, wear sunscreen with at least 40 to 60 SPF.
The fact that your feet are enclosed in shoes all workout long means that you are promoting a warm, moist environment–the perfect conditions for bacteria and fungi to grow. Athlete’s foot is one of the most common side effects of exercise, especially for those who wear shoes all day long. But it can also be the result of stepping into a gym shower where someone else with athlete’s foot has just bathed. The fungi can stick to the floor and be passed to your feet, resulting in a fungal foot infection. To reduce your risk of athlete’s foot, wear flip flops or shower shoes when bathing at the gym, and give your feet plenty of time to air out every day.