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Common exercise-induced skin afflictions

Here are 7 effective tips on how to keep your sweat sessions from beating up on your complexion… and other sensitive body parts.

Exercise & Fitness By Ariba Khaliq / Mar 03, 2015

That embarrassingly bright-red face

Hitting the gym is meant to be healthy and look hot, but more than often you walk out with an embarrassingly bright-red face. Don’t even talk about backne, sports-bra-induced chafing, and hives. Internal factors such as allergies and skin type play a key role in how your skin responds to exercise, but external factors like clothing and the weather can help or hurt workout-related skin problems too. So, you have a lot of control over how irritated your skin gets. Check out these four simple skin tips for what you can do before, during, and after workouts to minus any flare-ups.

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Excessive redness

Amongst all, the most upsetting and annoying workout-related skin problem is redness after a workout. Women suffering from rosacea or having sensitive skin are more likely to get severe flushing. As you may know sensitive skin gets irritated very easily, so heat combined with sweat will cause a flare-up. It is best to start using anti-redness moisturizers formulated for sensitive skin; soothing ingredients like thermal spring water, zinc, licorice extract, or fever few will get your moisture barrier in peak condition and make skin more resilient.

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There is no kind of sunscreen which is fully sweat-proof. Even the best brands get sweat-away with a 30-to- 40-minute hard workout. Your burn risk rises if you're working out around snow, water, or sand. Since all reflect sunlight, you get the rays not only from above, but bouncing up at you from below. Avoid the peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for working out and wear dark-coloured clothes and a visor. Apply your sweat-resistant sunscreen liberally 30 minutes beforehand, because it takes up to that long to become active.

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Itchiness and hives

Exercise-induced allergies like itching, stinging, or hives can happen to some people whether they work out indoors or outdoors. In women, they tend to start around the age of 20 and can recur for years. Your chances increase if you have other allergies, like hay fever. When body temperature rises during exercise, mast cells, a type of white blood cell linked to allergies, can release histamine, causing allergic symptoms like mild hives, trouble breathing, or low blood pressure. Take an oral antihistamine before working out.

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When you get really hot, the natural oils on your scalp drip down your face and body and mix with your sweat, settling into pores along your hairline, neck, and shoulders, causing breakouts. Then your form-fitting workout wear seals it all in, increasing the odds of backne and buttne. Make sure you use a non-comedogenic sunscreen, which means it won't clog your pores. If you can't shower, wipe off breakout problem areas—T-zone, chest, back, and between your breasts—with a face-cleansing towel.

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Skin infections

Even though the nasty infections aren't very common, there are still plenty of microbes in the gym and taking sensible precautions are important. Take care of the little things. Don't expose wounds to the gym. Wash your hands with regular soap, singing "Happy Birthday" three times through. And shower right after your workout. If you do end up with a bump or rash, keep the area clean and try using a topical cream. If home remedies don't stop the pain or if you notice any quick changes in shape, diameter, colour, or size, call your doctor right away.

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