The 2016 Summer Olympics are quickly approaching and while athletes prepare to compete against other athletes from across the world, now is the time where the athlete must not only be physically prepared, but mentally as well. The athlete should have a focused mind, prepping for their matches. The athlete may train more so than usual, which means that certain changes to the body not only affect bones and muscle, but the skin as well. When it comes to skin care, athletes not only have to look out for their body more so than an average person, but the athlete also experiences, more so often than others, sweating almost every day, infections, blisters, and chafing. This does not necessarily have to happen to an athlete but for those who like to participate in outdoor events, the sun still continues to shine, and the longer out there, the more damage athlete’s skin is at risk, if not properly protected.
The athlete literally sweats for a living, as in, these people are professionally trained in a sport where it is required to work hard and therefore sweat. But why do our bodies sweat? It is more likely for people to sweat in the summer because of the heat, but why does our body do that? Our doctors always tell us that our body temperature must stay at or around 98.6. So when we get hot from working out or we have a cold, the body is trying to control its temperature at a healthy state—hence sweat occurs. Not every person sweats the same amount, in fact, there is multiple factors to consider such as gender, emotions, substances, and genetics. According to POPSUGAR, “You’re born with between two and four million sweat glands. Women have more sweat glands than men, but men’s glands are more active. How much you sweat depends on your gender, the number of sweat glands you have (more glands equal more sweat), how hot it is, how intensely you’re exercising, or how anxious you feel.” So not only does everyone have roughly about the same amount of sweat glands, but it is more likely for a man to sweat because men’s glands are more “active” even if a women’s body is fit, strong, and beautiful like tennis player Serena Williams. It is just scientifically not proven why it is that men’s sweat glands are more likely to release sweat.
Not only does gender determine how much a body sweats, but genetics based off of heredity may affect the amount of sweat exposed to the body. There are conditions of excessive sweating such as hyperhidrosis where whether cold or hot out, the body is more prone to sweat. There are treatments that are available for hyperhidrosis. Lastly, just like how our skin is more prone to acne with sweets, substances such as cigarettes, coffee, and alcohol may cause the body to sweat profusely. POPSUGAR explains, “If you’re a coffee drinker, caffeine can increase perspiration. Drinking alcohol can have the same effect, so limit the cocktails. Smokers may also sweat more since nicotine can affect your hormones, skin, and brain.” All these substances are controllable however, so if perspiration is a concern, than cut the cord on these substances. If you are all about the “gym life” however, Huffington Post has shared skin secrets from sweaty professionals:
- DIY Cleansing Wipes
Before and after a workout, try cleansing the face with a cleansing wipe in order to prevent any bacteria or sweat to clog pores up. You can make your own using ingredients such as witch hazel, or aloe vera!
- Freshen Up with Facial Mist
Use teas such as Chamomile, Green, or Peppermint as a refreshing toner for your face as boost after a long workout!
- Boost the Power of Your SPF
If you’re an outdoors lover, than boost your SPF with carrot juice or coconut oil!
- Don’t Forget to Exfoliate
The athlete is more likely to create dead skin cells, so it’s important to cleanse and exfoliate more often than others, which means to look for products that have mild exfoliants.
- Keep Hair Off Your Face
Let’s not forget that hair contains oils, and oils mixed with sweat creates more clogged pores on the face!
- Change your Clothes ASAP
As soon as you finish working out, try to change into a different outfit. Leaving sweaty clothes on can cause bacteria to keep close to your skin, leading to break outs!
- Make Up Free During Workouts
More and more often, some gym-goers prefer to go work out with makeup—big mistake! Wearing makeup while working out can not only cause sweaty and runny make up, but mixing sweat with those products may lead to break outs and clogged pores!
- Don’t Touch
Do not touch your face after working out! After working out, your pores are open from the heat on your face, so they are more exposed to bacteria, such as the ones on your hands after using the dumbbells or other equipment other people touch. So avoid touching your face!
Lastly, don’t forget to moisturize! The more you work out, the more you shower, and the more you shower, the higher possibility of your skin drying out so moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
INFECTIONS AND BLISTERS
When it comes to sports or working out, athletes are more likely to have skin infections caused by the environment itself, such as sharing equipment, certain competitions that require direct contact, and much more. Such infections can fall into three basic categories:
- Fungal infections
Caused by fungal organisms living in soil, animals, or on people. A common sport fungal infection, located in the groin area, is commonly known as “jock itch”
- Viral infections
Viral infections in sports can be caused by the herpes simplex virus, which causes rashes or red sores
- Bacterial infections
Athletes are more probable of bacterial infections, not because of poor hygiene, but as an athlete, your skin requires higher maintenance, because of the higher production of sweat, and higher chances of bacteria getting clogged in the skin.
These infections may be prevented, according to New York State Department of Health, “Hand washing (hand hygiene) is the most important way to prevent the spread of skin infections in any setting.” They also have tips for athletes on preventing skin infections such as:
- “Wash your hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (if approved by your school or club) in the absence of soap and clean water.
- Wash your hands after using shared equipment (such as barbells and free weights).
- Use a clean towel as a barrier between your bare skin and shared surfaces (for example, exercise equipment, sauna benches, or physical therapy tables and equipment).
- Avoid contact with others’ lesions and possibly contaminated items (for example, bandages, towels, or gear).
- Wash your hands after contact with others’ potentially infectious wounds, skin, or soiled bandages.
- Use your own container of liquid soap (do not share!) and shower before and as soon as possible after EVERY practice, game, or tournament.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands to help prevent the spread of infections.
- Do not pick or squeeze skin sores, which can worsen an infection and possibly spread it to others.
- Completely and securely cover skin infections that are not contagious (such as eczema) before practice, meets, or games.”
Blisters are hardly ever trouble as long as you don’t pick at them. Health Central states that “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.” Blisters may look nasty to some people, but like a pimple, it’s better to leave it alone than to create an infection.
Chafing is a rash caused by skin to skin friction, and can occur most commonly in areas such as inner thighs or underarm from running, bicycling, or even walking for a long amount of time. Chafing can be painful because of the fact that your skin is rubbing against each other which leads to painful irritation. Chafing can be preventable, however if left untreated and continue to work out then the area may get crusted or even bleed. WebMD has a couple of tips for preventing chafing such as:
- Stay Dry
Use powders such as talcum powder on areas that are likely to sweat in order to prevent chafing from happening, there are also body deodorants that may be used specifically to absorb any moisture from the skin.
Try using jelly lubricants that help avoid friction in the chafing area. These can easily be purchased over-the-counter.
- Dress Right
When working out, the athlete must feel comfortable in order to not only prevent muscle strains, but infections as well. Try using clothes that absorb moisture so that the chafing area will be properly dry and prevented from chafing.
Whatever you do, do not leave the area alone. Chafing can be treated, so if you leave it alone, not only will it get worse, but working out while chafing will not only make you feel uncomfortable, but it’ll distract you from your workout. So, when chafing, try to limit exercises that may make the area more severe. Although chafing may be caused by working out, chafing can happen to anyone, so these tips can also work for you! By preventing chafing, not only will you be able to wear what you want, but you won’t have to worry about whether chafing will occur, as long as you at least follow one of these steps, and therefore looking confident and beautiful as you strut down the street!
Exercising is a daily routine for the athlete—it’s their job to sweat in order to achieve. Their mind has to be focused on finishing in first place, so the last thing they want to worry about is have skin problems. By taking care of your skin properly, not only are you ready for your daily work out, but you’ll be ready to power through with a set mind and achieve your goals for either the perfect body, trophy, or just have fun playing the sports you love doing. Don’t let your skin keep you from exercising, or from letting the real you shine through! Our skin requires higher maintenance when we work out, but that’s okay, because not only will you be achieving your goals while working out, but you’ll also have radiant skin while doing so.