Does Sweat Cause Acne: What You Need to Know

Does Sweat Cause Acne: What You Need to Know

Liudmila Busch

You’ve finally gotten back into a gym routine and are feeling great, only to have a crop of pimples pop up on your face and body. Is getting your sweat on to blame? Does sweat cause acne? Sometimes!

We’re explaining when sweat causes breakouts—and what to do about it—in today’s article. 

Sweat Acne vs. Heat Rash 

Before we go to work banishing sweat-related acne, it’s important to make sure that it is in fact acne you're dealing with in the first place. Heat rashes, which are caused by heat and friction, can look and behave remarkably similarly to pimples. 

So how  can you tell the two apart? Sometimes it’ll take a consult with your dermatologist. But here are a couple pointers: 

  • Heat rash is more likely to appear on your back, chest or neck than it is on your face.
  • Unlike most types of acne, heat rash tends to cause mild to moderate itching and pain. 

Just like acne, heat rash can show up as small red bumps or pustules, so when in doubt, get in touch with your doc. 

Is Sweating Good or Bad for Acne? 

The answer is: both! When done correctly, sweating can be an effective tool in your anti-acne toolkit. This is because sweat is awesome at getting all of the excess gunk (like sebum and dead skin) out of your pores, so they don’t become clogged. 

Sweating only becomes problematic for your skin in a few different scenarios: 

  • You’re not washing up immediately after sweating. This allows the sweat to seep back into your pores and create even more of a clogging problem than you had to begin with. 
  • You’re rubbing the sweat into your face or body. If you’re drenched in sweat, it’s tempting to wipe down with a towel immediately. However, using rubbing motions with a towel forces the sweat back into your skin, encouraging breakouts. If you must use a towel, gently pat your skin instead. But ideally, you should get under soap and water immediately. 
  • You’re sweating under abrasive clothing or accessories.  Heat and friction combined are not your friends. If you’re sweating under tight clothing, a baseball cap or a headband for example, you’re a lot more likely to see pimples as a result. So opt for loose clothing and avoid any accessories that rub. 

woman running on treadmill

What to Do Before You Sweat 

There are a few simple things you can do before you get sweaty to ensure that you’re not encouraging pimples: 

  1. Avoid makeup or moisturizer immediately before sweating. 
  2. Don’t wear workout clothes more than once without washing them. 
  3. Don’t wear clothing that’s too tight or wear clothing that rubs. 
  4. Avoid sharing wearable sports equipment if you can help it (or at least wipe it down first) . 
  5. Be mindful of consuming dehydrating foods and drinks (like caffeine and some protein drinks) before sweating, as excessive dehydration can also encourage pimples

What to Do After You Sweat 

What you do with your skin after you get sweaty is the biggest determinant of whether you’ll get sweat acne. Here are a few measures to take: 

  1. Wash off as soon as possible using a gentle cleanser for your  face  and  body . If you can’t wash off immediately, pat (don’t rub) your skin with a towel and then use a  nourishing toner.
  2. Always wipe down with a clean towel. Never share a towel with anyone else. 
  3. Change out of your workout clothes as soon as possible, and avoid putting on any abrasive clothing or accessories until after you’ve cleaned off. 
  4. Don’t touch your face! This is a good rule of thumb all of the time, but it’s especially critical after you’ve been sweating. 

Caring for Sweat Acne with Wild Ice

If you’re dealing with some breakouts from sweating, there’s no need to worry. We simply need to unclog those pores and re-balance your skin’s pH!

One of the best ways to do that is with a natural, effective skincare routine, like the  4-step facial routine  from Wild Ice. We’ve formulated our cleanser, toner, C-Serum and moisturizer to deliver the maximum amount of nutrients to your skin, without any of the toxic and irritating preservatives that can make acne worse. Try it in your post-gym routine today and get ready to watch your skin glow. 

Mila Founder of Wild Ice Botanicals

Mila (pronounced 'mee-luh') is the founder of Wild Ice Botanicals, a clean & natural skincare company dedicated to using cold preservation to deliver fresh products free of chemical preservatives so that women of all ages and skin types can confidently look their natural best.