Expert Tips For Managing
Workout Skin Conditions

Is your workout causing skin problems? Here’s some tips on managing common skin conditions caused or worsened from athletic activities.


Sweat and occlusion from tight clothing can lead to acne and folliculitis.


  1. Remove makeup before workout: even if you are in a rush and trying to squeeze in a workout, take the time to remove all makeup. Makeup removing pads can make this simple and easy.
  2. Consider using a facial treatment wipe before and maybe also after a workout – especially if you are prone to acne. Try CSL Clarifying Pads which have acne fighting and skin exfoliating agents glycolic and salicylic acid.
  3. Wear hair off face. Hair care products can cause pore occlusion, irritation, and allergic reactions on facial and neck skin.
  4. Wear clean clothes and use a fresh clean towel during your workout. Bacteria can build up on used towels and clothing.
  5. Shower soon after workout. Even if you have several to-do items on your list, try to shower immediately after working out and change into clean, non-sweaty clothes.

Heat Rash / Miliaria

Heat rash looks like many, small red bumps that don’t quite have the appearance of a pustule as seen in acne or folliculitis

This heat rash or miliaria is much harder to treat and control and is related to heat and sweat. Excessive heat – think hot yoga – literally irritates and closes the openings of sweat ducts and there is inflammation behind the duct closure giving lots of little red bumps. Prevention and treatment are the same – keep cool, avoid super-hot workouts or working out in a heated area and shower and cool the skin promptly after a workout.

After Workout


Rosacea is characterized by redness and flushing of mid facial skin. Breakouts or bumps can be present as well.
The heat of the workout can really exacerbate the redness and flushing – to the point that the flushing can be painful. Over time, workouts and the accompanying flushing can make rosacea worse. Follow these tips to reduce rosacea flares:


  1. Be consistent with your skin care and prescription rosacea medications.
  2. Wear zinc sunscreen for outdoor activities.
  3. Follow tips above to prevent breakouts with exercise but avoid any harsh cleansing pads and avoid glycolic and salicylic acid.
  4. Take ice packs or freezer packs to your workout to put on your face immediately after or during workouts to cool skin and reduce flushing.
  5. Consider asking your dermatologist to prescribe a topical medication that prevents blood vessel dilation on the skin – oxymetazoline (Rhofade®) or brimonidine (Mirvaso®)

Nail Issues

Nails can become altered by a variety of physical activities. Runner’s nails are often thick and even black.

+ The black color is from blood or bruising. Many sports cause trauma to the nail from sudden stopping, sliding and stopping.

+ Onychomycosis is a nail fungus and can be picked up in gyms.

+ Wear shoes that fit well and consider anti-fungal creams or powder on the feet to prevent fungus.


Pressure and friction can cause calluses on the hands, feet, knees, elbows, and other areas. Not only can these be unsightly, but they can also crack and be painful.

It is best to keep these calluses softer and more flexible by using creams that contain urea, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or lactic acid. Thickened rough skin on the knees, elbows and tops of feet can make the skin look dark. Bleaching
cream is not the answer – use of a softening cream is. Here are some examples:

  • + Glytone ultra-softening heel and elbow cream
    (what I call “hoof cream”)
  • + Eucerin Roughness Relief Spot Treatment
  • + AmLactin
Friction Issues

Friction Issues

Motion can cause friction injury such as joggers nipple – which is raw irritated skin from chronic shirt rubbing – and chaffing of other areas of skin such as around bra line and between thighs.

Try an anti-chafing stick – examples are Body glide and Gold Bond Friction. Or use a protect emollient cream such as: Balmex that has wax, mineral oil, and zinc; Theraplex emollient with petrolatum and wax and Aquation anti-chafe cream with soothing ceramides, oatmeal, aloe vera and zinc.

Green Hair?

Chlorine in pools can lead to copper build up in hair turning light colored hair a green shade. Regular use of a chelating shampoo to extract copper from hair helps this. Chlorine also dries and weakens hair and regular use of thick conditioner and/or conditioning hair masks is helpful.



Check out Dr. Rostan’s podcast and learn more about fitness and age management
with special guest Liz and Lee from Hilliard Studio.