11 Tips for Skin Care for Athletes

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Playing on a team, running, swimming, biking are all great ways to stay physically fit and keep yourself healthy. But these, as with all sports create special needs for your skin. The following are tips for making sure you take great care of your skin while enjoying the many benefits of being physically active.


    Use sunscreen every day. As with any activity that causes you to be outdoors, sunscreen is a must. Sweating itself won’t make you any more susceptible to damage from the sun, however, wiping the sweat off means wiping off the sunscreen so be sure to reapply often. And if you are participating in swimming or other sports where you are in the water, reapply as soon as you get out.

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    Drink plenty of water. Keeping yourself hydrated is important for your physical health, especially if you are sweating or out in the hot sun but your skin needs the water as well.


    Shower after playing any sports. Dirt, grime, sweat (and chlorine for those in a pool) can block your pores and dry out your skin. Shower to wash away any dirt or bacteria and moisturize your skin as soon as you are done your shower, while your skin is still damp.


    Wear protective clothing. Lightweight material that absorbs sweat works well and will allow your skin to breathe. Make sure you bring along an extra set of clothing so you aren’t spending time in sweaty or wet clothing when you are done – this can cause irritation and friction blisters.


    Wear clean, white, cotton socks and be sure to change your socks frequently to avoid getting athlete’s foot. If you are in a pool area, public shower area or locker room, be sure to wear flip flops or sandals so you aren’t walking directly on floors.


    Keep your toenails trimmed, especially if you are a runner. When running, your foot gets forced into the toe of the shoe and can cause the nail to lift from the bed. Keeping your toenails trimmed can help to prevent this, but if it does happen, talk with your doctor.


    Blisters will normally heal on their own but you have to make sure to keep the area from continually rubbing against whatever caused the blister. If you need to cover it, use a loose bandage or a donut-shaped pad to help protect it. If you must drain the blister because of its location, use a sterilized needle and poke a small hole at one edge, then push the liquid toward the hole to drain it. Clean the area and cover with gauze to help prevent infection.


    Don’t share equipment, especially hats, gloves, helmets, shoes and athletic supporters. These items can hold bacteria that can be transferred from person to person. Make sure any equipment that is shared is disinfected on a regular basis.


    Chafing is caused when your skin is continually rubbed by clothing. Petroleum jelly applied before working out, running or biking in areas where chafing is common – such as the inner thighs – can help prevent chafing. Hydrocortisone cream may help relieve the irritation. Specialized clothing, such as elasticized shorts will help.


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    Treat abrasions or “turf burn” by washing with a mild soap or antibacterial cleanser. Apply a zinc ointment and cover with a bandage to allow it to heal. If you are going to be in an area without access to clean water, bring along mentholated shaving gel to apply to abrasions.


    Fungal infections, such as athletes foot, ringworm and jock itch, are common in athletes. They show up  as an itchy, scaly rash and often appear on dam, warm and dark areas of the skin. Wearing clothing made from natural fibers and changing from wet clothing as soon as possible can help prevent these. They are typically treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams.




    “Athletic Skin Injuries,” 2004, May, Rodney S. W. Basler, Christopher Hunzeker, Michael Garcia, The Physician and Sportsmedicine


    “Dermatologic Disorders of the Athlete,” 2002, Brian B. Adams, Sports Medicine

Published On: April 23, 2013