Is Bad Acne Keeping You from Exercising?

Are you afraid to workout because you’re embarrassed about your acne?

A study done at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom found that there was a significant negative relationship between skin-related social anxiety, as from bad acne, and intention to exercise. Having bad skin can affect people’s self-esteem. Looking silly at the gym is bad enough without having to worry about people looking at the acne on your back.

So what can you do:393110118_d38918432c.jpg

  • Set a goal to clear your skin just as you would set a goal to lose weight. It takes time, persistence, and effort. Just like losing weight, it can difficult, but take just one day at a time; and use me as your personal trainer.
  • Start today. Its Monday, the first day of the last week with bad acne
  • Use a salicylic acid cleanser such as Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash. Then apply a benzoyl peroxide cream such as Oxy Balance with 5% benzoyl peroxide (5% is just as effective as 10% and is a lot less irritating).
  • If you have lots of acne or it is difficult to treat on your back, then make an appointment with your physician; he or she can prescribe an oral antibiotic like doxycycline that can clear you up in a few weeks.
  • Buy yourself some workout gear that you are comfortable in. Don’t worry too much what other people think — believe me, everyone at the gym is looking at themselves, not you.
  • Head to the gym. In a matter of weeks you could see not only your skin but also your body improving. Before you know it, you’ll be addicted. The hardest part is getting started, but once you do, it will be the best thing you ever did for your self-esteem.

Write me and tell me how you did it.

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Photo: Dusty DeMure,

6 thoughts on “Is Bad Acne Keeping You from Exercising?”

  1. You definitely have more than one post on how to control acne. As far as my understanding goes, acne are more common on oily skin than that of normal or dry skin so how about controlling this oil itself. I am not too sure if you have such post on how to keep your skin “excess” oil-free. I have been though this phase during my teens and my dermatologist gave me similar medications even 10 years ago but he never told me how to control oil, apart from keep washing it all the time (5-6X a day) and using astringent lotions (which IMO, is not very practical)

  2. Hi Noel-
    Thanks for stopping by. People who have oily skin are more prone to having acne, you are right. The best way to control excess oil and to control acne is by using a topical retinoid at night like retin A , tretinoin, or Differin.

  3. Interesting information, Dr. Benabio. I’m currently undergoing IPL therapy for acne that has persisted into my mid-20s. I’ve done all the other topical and oral treatments, including two rounds of Accutaine, oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, Retin-A, and so on.

    While doing the IPL treatments we started noticing my acne was not doing any better. The esthetician suggested I decrease the frequency of my workouts from every day to only 2 or 3 times a week, as the excessive sweating could be counterproductive. Everything I read shows that’s both true and untrue — what’s your take?

  4. Hi Anna-
    Glad you liked it. Thanks.

    I do not know of any evidence that working out or sweating worsen acne. They are completely different glands – eccrine (sweat) and sebaceous (the “acne” glands).

  5. Dr. Benabio, Have you looked into Local Deficiency of Gamma Linolenic Acid / Linoleic Acid (LA) / Omega-6 links to Acne?

    After oral administration of Isotretinoin (e.g., Accutane), LA levels have interestingly normalized.

    GLA is readily available OTC. I use the Jarrow brand or NOW Foods and it’s worked well pretty much, though it really does have a strong smell.

    Ref: Julie Harper, MD’s article on Acne.

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