Whether you are hiking the Grouse Grind, kayaking in Deep Cove, or spending your summers playing baseball or tennis, you may have noticed an increase in acne breakouts after you exercise. If these breakouts are concentrated under bra straps, helmets, or other places where a tight article of clothing rubs your skin, you are probably suffering from acne mechanica.
Like the name suggests, acne mechanica is caused by the mechanical action of something that is pulled tight against your skin. Tight straps and clothing rub against your skin while trapping sweat and heat. All of these irritating factors work together to block your hair follicles and prompt your skin to flare up with red bumps.
The best way to avoid acne mechanica is to use better fitting gear. Whether it’s a sports bra, unsuitable underwear, or protective padding, try to replace the poorly fitting item with something that manages to be snug, while giving your skin room to breathe. Some people report that synthetic fabrics aggravates their skin more than natural ones, so consider switching to breathable cotton, or even wearing natural fibers under your sporting gear.
Another thing to consider is how long your skin is trapped under the offending garment. When you are done with your summer activities, remove any tight clothing or straps as soon as possible. Hit the showers in order to wash away any sweat or grime you may have trapped in your pores. Be sure to check your body wash for pore clogging ingredients, or you might be running right into another source of breakouts!
When it comes to cleansers, mandelic acid is often the best choice for acne mechanica. It’s a gentle AHA that’s fairly potent against the bacteria that like to live in your sweat. Plus, the exfoliating action can help clear any clogged pores before they break out.
Finally, while it’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, you can rub a bit of petroleum jelly in between helmet straps and your skin. This will form a protective barrier that will keep straps from rubbing on your skin directly.
If your acne has a habit of popping up after your time outdoors, think about the clothes and gear you wear. Any correlation between tight straps or clothing, and breakouts means that acne mechanica is probably causing your acne flare-ups. In order to reduce these breakouts, try to avoid wearing gear or clothes that rub, hit the showers right after you exercise, and use a mandelic acid cleanser to help fight off any breakouts. You will keep your skin clear while enjoying the beautiful Vancouver summer!
Written by Leah LaVanway