It’s the beginning of the year and the one thing on everyone’s mind: Working out! While most of us aspire to get into the best shape of our lives and into that bikini for summer, we may anticipate a few bumps in the road. But we don’t expect those bumps to appear on our skin! Yes, adult acne is a common occurrence after hours of discipline at the gym. Even if we’re eating right and drinking enough water, the added exertion to our bodies can cause us to experience acne – maybe in unexpected places. You may have noticed breakouts on your back (often referred to as back-ne), or perhaps on your chest…even your gluteus maximus. Don’t worry. This is actually from all the hormonal interactions produced by your new-found fitness regime. The key to clear skin without kicking your new, healthy habits is applying that same diligence to your skin care routine.
Don’t feel alone. According to some medical societies, Acne “is the most common skin problem in the United States: about 40 to 50 million Americans have acne at any one time.” Acne can erupt anywhere on the skin at any time because there are so many potential triggers. Many people would like to believe that if they struggled with breakouts as a teen, they would grow out of it as an adult. However, most continue to deal with hormonal breakouts well into their 30s, 40’s and even 50’s.
With resolution season upon us, many individuals are experiencing new breakout activity on their backs, chest, shoulders and even their buttocks. Testosterone-stimulating workouts, plus the increase of sweat and oil production cause our skin to be an environment swimming with bacteria. It’s no wonder fitness fanatics have acne issues. Even though everyone has different variables contributing to their breakouts, the treatment plan is similar regardless of the eruption’s origin.
Our skin contains over 1,000 pores, which is why breakouts can occur anywhere. These pores can become clogged with dead skin, sweat and dirt. When our skin produces excessive oil, it traps debris, creating a waxy-like plug known as a blackhead or comedone. When this black head suffocates under excessive oil production, it has no oxygen, which then triggers an infestation of pesky anaerobic bacteria. Before you know it, your pore is suffering from a bacterial invasion, and then your body deploys white blood cells to defend its self from the infection. On the surface you will see a white head or pustule, also known as a pimple. It’s simply your body fighting the infection, but there must be a better way…
The key to addressing a breakout cycle consists of three major components: exfoliate, treat and hydrate. Exfoliating dead skin to prevent the “waxy plug” is the first step in prevention. There are a wide variety of exfoliants, so it’s vital to choose the correct one for your skin condition. Salicylic acid is the most trusted ingredient within the industry because of it’s many beneficial properties. Salicylic acid exfoliates, kills bacteria and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. If you have eruptions already, killing the bacteria that causes the infection is the most important step in breaking the cycle. After a workout, we’d suggest a salicylic scrub down the entire body, which will relieve the vast majority of excess oil, sweat and bacteria collected at the gym. The last and most ignored component is hydration! Many acne sufferers diligently dry out their eruptions but forget to hydrate, which interferes with the entire healing process. By hydration, we mean infusing the skin with water-based ingredients like hyaluronic acid or other humectants, which attract water to the skin. It may sound confusing, but don’t reach for that super-rich moisturizer! The high oil content will worsen breakouts. Our favorite vehicle of hydration is a moisturizing mist, but you can also use a serum or a mask. The important thing is not to forget to hydrate in the process.
If you’re still confused, we’re happy to assist with a complimentary consultation. If you need to stop your breakout activity as soon as possible, an office medical exfoliation such as a chemical peel or microdermabrasion is the fastest way to address immediate concerns. Following your visit, it will be vital to proceed with your prescribed at-home routine. To learn more about controlling your acne, schedule a complimentary skin analysis today.