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No, sweating does not cause acne since sweat glands are not the same as sebaceous glands. However, the salt excreted by the sweat (eccrine) glands can aggravate already clogged pores, leading to inflamed acne lesions. But, if you get small bumps that look like acne from working out/sweating, what you may be experiencing is something called folliculitis, which is an infection of the hair follicle thought to be caused by cutaneous yeast.

Acne mechanica is another condition, which causes the formation of acne lesions by a combination of heat, friction and covered skin. It is a common occurrence among athletes who sweat under their helmets. Moreover, acne mechanica can also be induced by tight clothing, snug backpack straps, and headbands worn for long periods of time.

Treatment and Prevention:

1) Showering immediately after exercise/sweating is crucial to prevent skin irritation by the salt content in your sweat and to prevent yeast and bacteria from multiplying further. Making sure the skin is thoroughly cleansed. Our skin products contain anti-fungal and anti-bacterial ingredients that have helped resolve many cases of acne and folliculitis.

2) Avoid wearing a hat, helmet, or headband for long periods of time. If you do have to wear a helmet, try applying some petrolatum jelly (i.e. Aquaphor) on the areas that rub.

3) Wear clothing made of absorbent cotton beneath a uniform to help soak up the sweat and minimize skin friction.

4) Do not wear clothes that are too tight.

Our Acne Specialist at Integrative Aesthetics Boston can get you on a treatment program that will clear your skin in approximately 90 days.

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