Athletes are really susceptible to skin problems and need to take care if they want to stay competitive and prevent long term, chronic health problems.

These are the most common issues you need to be aware of as an athlete. Most of these problems are exacerbated by poor personal hygiene so it’s important to cleanse and condition regularly using natural products that won’t irritate your skin.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), is a highly contagious fungal skin infection that develops on the top outer layer of skin on the foot. The rash usually develops in the moist, dark area between the toes where air can’t promote healing. Athlete’s foot causes thickening of the skin, a scaly rash, itchy feet, foot blisters, discoloration, and toenail loss.

Gym showers, swimming pools, and other environments that involve walking barefoot in a moist environment are all danger areas where the fungus that causes athlete’s foot moves easily from an infected person via the wet surfaces onto the previously healthy skin of others.

Skin Allergies

Many athletes experience eczema when training, the combination of sweat, allergies and constant rubbing of your skin against sweaty clothing can aggravate your eczema even more.

Sunburn and Free Radical Damage

Training and competing outdoors puts you at risk of sunburn, even on cloudy days. Sunburn shows as red, blotchy and sore skin. It’s common on your arms, legs, neck and the backs of your hands.

It’s important to use sunscreen, and when sweating heavily, you need to reapply it often to prevent burning. This is something many endurance athletes forget to do.

Heat Rash

Characterized by red bumps on the skin containing trapped sweat. In some cases it can also produce pus. Heat rash is often referred to as “prickly heat” because of the prickly sensation it causes in the affected area.

In severe cases heat rash can harm the sweat glands, so you need to consult a dermatologist if you experience intense pain.

Heavy sweating and wearing ill-fitting clothing can all contribute to heat rash.

Brown Spots and red patches

Repeated sun and wind exposure can result in brown spots, hyperpigmentation, and irritated skin. Runners, cyclists, and anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors is more likely to experience such problems.

Wrinkles and Crows feet

Repeatedly squinting in the bright sun will take its toll on your face, worsening expression lines over time. Wrinkles around the nose, mouth and eyes can appear at an earlier age in people who spend a lot of time outdoors, primarily due to sun damage.

Acne Flare ups

Breakouts are a common problem among athletes. Sweat creates a warm, moist environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive. Dirt, oils, cosmetics, and inappropriate non wicking clothing traps moisture on the skin, leading to breakouts on the face, shoulders, back, or other areas.

Sagging Skin

The lax, sagging skin of “runners face” that endurance athletes acquire over time isn’t caused by gravity.  Outdoor training can lead to UV damage which accelerates skin aging and causes skin to lose elasticity and begin to sag.

Chafing

Whether you’re cycling, or in the midst of an intense workout session chafing can be a major irritation exacerbated by sweating. Chafing occurs when there’s constant friction between skin or skin and material and is seen as a red and inflamed rash which makes further exercise extremely painful.

Swimming Pool Rash

Swimming pool rash (also called swimmer’s itch) is similar to chlorine rash but occurs when the disinfectants in swimming pools break down and expose swimmers to pseudomonas bacteria. You can also get swimming pool rash from hot tubs and marshy swimming areas.

Symptoms of swimming pool rash typically occur 12 to 48 hours after you’re exposed to the pseudomonas bacteria and can include: Small red bumps on skin, blisters, a rash that affects the arms, legs, torso, or entire body, itching.

Dry Skin from Swimming

Dry, irritated skin is a big issue for swimmers. Chlorine and other chemicals used to keep swimming pools safe and clean are notorious for drying out the skin. The result is dry, itchy skin that appears dull. Dehydration can exacerbate these effects.

Chlorine Rash

Unlike swimming pool rash, chlorine rash is caused by exposure to chlorine (the disinfectant used to keep pools safe from bacteria). People who spend most of the time in swimming pools generally develop chlorine rash because the chemical bonds to hair and skin and doesn’t easily wash away.

Symptoms of chlorine rash can begin immediately to within hours of chlorine exposure and may include: Extreme itching, Small bumps on skin, Patches of itchy rash, Skin that is swollen and tender

Cleanliness tips for athletes to prevent skin infections

To help reduce your risk for developing skin infections, follow these general guidelines when participating in sporting events and practices:

  • Wash your hands often with natural antibacterial and antifungal soap and water. Before and after exercise.
  • Keep well hydrated.
  • Apply sunscreen as appropriate.
  • Shower as soon as possible after every practice and game in which you have direct contact with other players.
  • Apply a natural all in one moisturizing, antibacterial skin care product after showering focusing on any obvious problem areas.
  • Wash and dry your kit after each use.
  • Don’t share towels, soaps, lotions, disposable razors or other personal care items.
  • Use a protective barrier (such as a towel) between your skin and shared equipment such as weight-training or sauna benches.

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