Acne from Athletic Gear (Mechanical Acne)
Good things come to those who sweat… right?
Have you ever heard the saying, “Never throw in the towel, use it to wipe off the sweat, then keep going?” For athletes, losing never comes easily: they play to win, they dream big and they never give up. If you are an athlete, losing the fight to keep your skin clear can be frustrating.
One of the most common complaints we (at Derick Dermatology) hear from athletes is sports-related acne. Excessive sweating due to sports equipment, heat, or difficult workouts can lead to clogged pores–especially when an athlete is wearing tight clothing and heavy sports equipment. Acne caused by the combination of pressure, friction, humidity, and occlusion from athletic gear is called mechanical acne—more formally known as acne mechanica.
Mechanical acne is most commonly found in athletes who participate in sports activities requiring heavy protective equipment, such as football or hockey. People commonly refer to mechanical acne as sports-induced acne and football acne. Any irritation to the skin due to prolonged and repeated friction, pressure or pulling can result in inflammatory papules and pustules. Mechanical acne may be present on areas of the skin that come into direct contact with equipment. It doesn’t help that teenagers and young adults who have already have problems with acne may be more likely to develop mechanical acne. The bad news is mechanical acne can lead to complications such as scars of functional or cosmetic concern. The good news is Derick Dermatology has helpful advice.
To keep your skin–and your game–at its best, it is recommended, you should wear cotton or polypropylene clothing beneath your athletic equipment. As soon as an athletic event is over, you should remove your sports gear and take a shower. One of Derick Dermatology’s board-certified physician assistants (who works in our Arlington Heights and Barrington locations,) recommends using face wash that contains salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to help clear the skin of sweat and grime. Erinn also tells her patients to wipe down their sports equipment with disinfectant pads. If these solutions don’t work, please arrange an appointment with us.
Defeat your mechanical acne the same way you defeat your sports competitors—with a good defense against getting it and a good offense if you do.