Getting Breakouts After Working Out? Check For Acne Mechanica

Acne can have several different triggers, such as hormonal changes, stress, diet, certain medications, etc. When people think of acne, they may often think of acne vulgaris, a type of acne that is caused by the blockage of skin cells and oil near hair follicles. However, if you have relatively clear skin but notice breakouts after you exercise, you may be dealing with acne mechanica.

What is Acne Mechanica?

Acne mechanica is a type of acne that is triggered by friction, or the rubbing of fabrics—or other materials—against the skin. When you are working out, your clothes or sports equipment may rub and irritate skin. And when you are also sweating from exercise, it's easy for this friction to irritate the skin and push sweat and skin oils into pores.

Who Does Acne Mechanica Affect?

Anyone can get acne Mechanica, as tight straps, headbands, belts, or undergarments could cause this issue. Some people can develop this acne from their occupations—like truck drivers having their backs rub against their seats. However, acne mechanica is often found in athletes since athletic equipment, like baseball caps, hockey/football pads, lacrosse helmets, etc. are heavy and cause a lot of friction.

How is Acne Mechanica Diagnosed?

If you have acne mechanica, you may notice blackheads, pustules, and/or whiteheads that follow a pattern of rubbing against your skin. For instance, if you wear a sports bra, you may notice acne on your shoulders where the strap drapes over the shoulder. Unlike acne vulgaris, which can cause lesions anywhere, acne mechanica typically is isolated to one area that's exposed to friction. A dermatologist can diagnose acne mechanica based on your symptoms.

How is it Treated?

Try to wear natural, breathable fabrics that wick away sweat. Be sure to rinse of sports equipment and wash exercise clothes before reusing them. If you can, try to rinse off or shower immediately after you complete your exercise routines.

Pick up skincare products that contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way. You will want to start off slow with lower-strength products to avoid dry, flaky skin. For more serious cases of acne, you may want to ask your dermatologist about topical antibiotics or retinoids.

You don't want to get exfoliating products or anything that requires additional friction, as that can make acne mechanica worse. Avoid products with fragrances, as these can cause acne flare-ups.

Reach out to a hair and skincare provider today for more information on acne products.