Why Should Athletes Worry About Skin Damage?

Written by Frank P. Fechner, MD

After watching this year’s Olympic Games, one may wonder how athletes manage best to protect their skin.  Sweating negatively impacts your skin’s ability to defend itself against the sun.  Therefore, any athlete can benefit from these few key tips:

1)      Turn down the tempo … A study conducted by researchers in Berlin showed that high intensity physical activity produces oxidative stress, and this in turn depletes the skin of protective antioxidants making it more susceptible to skin damage.  Interestingly, they determined that low intensity exercise has the reverse effect. (Unfortunately, this may negatively affect the sportive value of the work-out itself).

2)      Dress up…  If you are more inclined to exercise outdoors, make sure to wear proper clothing that shields you from the sun.  This means, a hat, sunglasses, and even clothing with built-in sun-block.

3)      Choose Liquid…  Liquid sunscreen tends to contain more alcohol and this helps to keep your complexion free of pimples.  Look for sunscreens that are hypoallergenic and oil-free as well.  Prickly heat or heat rash is frequently seen in athletes, so staying away from certain types of sunscreen will help you avoid these types of skin conditions.

4)      Cleanse….  Make sure to shower after your work out.  Keeping your skin free of bacteria, oil and dirt is essential for healthy skin.  Using a mild cleanser to open and clear pores will help prevent breakouts, and exfoliating a few times a week will give your skin the extra glow.

5)      Refresh…  Drinking enough water and moisturizing daily will keep your skin hydrated and looking great!