Top Skincare Tips For Runners

Top Skincare Tips For Runners

10 common skincare issues for runners and to help minimize them

By Consultant Dermatologist Dr Catherine Borysiewicz

Sun damage and photo-aging

Why does it happen?

Running allows you to enjoy time outdoors, but it is also important to realize that this will also expose you to significant amounts of UV exposure. Spots, uneven pigmentation, freckles, wrinkles and a tan are all signs of sun damage.

How can I do?

Protect your skin by applying sunscreen. Sunscreens are labelled with SPF ‘sun protection factor’. The SPF number refers to the level of protection they offer from UVB rays. Technically the number relates to how long it protects the skin versus the amount of time it takes your skin to go red without protection. The higher the number the better the protection. An SPF 50 will block approximately 98% of UVB rays if its applied thickly and often enough. People usually only apply ¼ to ½ the quantity they should: a teaspoon to the face, and a dessert spoon measure to the arms, a dessert spoon to the legs and a dessert spoon to the body. For runners try La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Shaka Fluid SPF 50+, a sweat-proof sunscreen in an ultra-light, anti eye-sting formula. Reapply every 2 hours and reapply after sport. For a very high protection SPF easy to apply on-the-go or over makeup you can try Anthelios Invisible Face Mist SPF 50+. Avoid running during peak UV hours between 11am and 4pm. No sunscreen will ever give you 100% protection so consider using a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing.

                                                                                                

Being aware of your skin and seeking expert advice if you notice changes are crucial. The smallest change in a mole is a sign to have a mole check with your dermatologist.

 

Spots

Why does it happen?
Spots and acne are really common. In runners it’s very common to see back and chest acne- we call this ‘folliculitis’. It happens when sweat remains on the skin, causing bacterial overgrowth and blocked and inflamed pores.

How can I prevent/treat it?

If you have just started to develop acne look carefully at your skin care regimen and ensure you shower and change out of your running clothes quickly. Keep products gentle and avoid products that irritate the already sore and inflamed skin.  There’s a great selection of products on the market that help treat mild acne. These products may contain salicylic acid, glycolic acid, tea tree oil and benzoyl peroxide. They all have slightly different modes of action from increasing turnover of the top dead layers of the skin to unclog pores, to blitzing bacteria. Everyone’s skin will respond in a slightly different way to each of these approaches and getting the right product for you can make a big difference.

 

For blemishes and imperfections using a cleanser such as EFFACLAR Foaming Wash which is suitable for use on sensitive, acne prone skin. The formula contains LHA and cleanses deeply into the pores, preventing breakouts. Avoid over moisturising as this could clog skin, if your skin is dry try using a moisturisers suitable for use on acne prone skin such as EFFACLAR H.

 

Chafing

Why does it happen?

Chafing rashes occur at areas of high friction on your skin, such as the thighs, underarms or nipples. Chafing is very painful and can affect your enjoyment of running.

How do I prevent/treat it?

Ensure your sportswear fit well. It is possible to apply creams that reduce friction by acting as a barrier cream such as CICAPLAST Balm B5. Protective plasters or dressings can be also applied at sites of high friction. A repairing barrier cream such as CICAPLAST Balm B5 can also be applied after running to immediately soothe the rash and help accelerate the skin’s natural repair process.

 

Back rash

Why does it happen?

Pityriasis versicolor is a very common yeast infection of the skin. I see this frequently in runners. In the same way sweat can cause bacterial overgrowth it can also affect the balance of yeasts on the skin.  The yeast causing the problems is Malassezia – this can be found normally on healthy skin, but in some people it can grow more actively on the skin surface. We do not know why some people are more prone to this than others. The rash consists of scaly patches on the skin of the back, chest neck and arms. The rash can have a number of different colours, and ranges from pale pink or tan in some patients, or can create white patches on the skin which is felt to be due to a chemical produced by the yeast that diffuses into the skin and inhibits normal skin pigmentation. For this reason it usually goes undetected on the skin in winter months and is noticed more frequently in the summer months.

How do I prevent/treat it?

To prevent it, make sure you shower and change out of your running clothes quickly after your run. If a rash develops, once the yeast has been identified you will need treatment. This will depend on how widespread or symptomatic the rash is. For a small affected area an anti-yeast cream or for more widespread or stubborn areas a prescribed short course of anti-yeast tablets or anti-yeast shampoo to use as a body wash.  There is a theory that Malassezia is more common in people who frequently moisturise their skin, so generally I tell patients to avoid over moisturising the areas of skin prone to the rash.

 

Feet

Our poor hard working feet often get forgotten about.  Long distance running can give them a particularly hard time. Try to take care of your feet and check your feet for signs of callous or corn formation, blisters or nail bruising from ill fitting running shoes. In between the toes are common sites for fungal infections or athletes foot. Look for unusual moles- these can present anywhere on your feet including hidden places like the the sole, under the nails as a dark mark or bruise and between the toes, if any concerning features get to your GP immediately to have it checked out.

 

Blisters

Why does it happen?

Blisters occur at areas of high friction on your skin. They are very painful and can affect your enjoyment of running.

How do I prevent it?

Ensure your shoes fit well. It is possible to apply creams that reduce friction by acting as a barrier cream such as CICAPLAST Balm B5. Also protective plaster or dressings can be applied at sites of high friction.

 

Athletes foot

Why does it happen?

Warm sweaty feet and synthetic footwear are the perfect recipe for fungal infections of the feet.

How do I prevent it?

Treat athletes foot with preparations of topical antifungals from your local pharmacy. Prevent infections from returning by wearing natural fibre cotton socks, ‘breathable’ footwear, and ensuring toe webs are well dried after washing.

Corns and calluses

Why does it happen?

These are areas of hard skin that develop at sites of pressure or friction. Corns are small round hard circles that commonly occur on the tops and sides of toes. Calluses tend to be larger rough areas of skin that develop on weight bearing areas of the foot.

How do I prevent it?

Ensure your running shoes are well fitting and comfortable. Once they occur the areas can be treated with paring at home or with the help of a podiatrist and the application of corn plasters containing salicylic acid to soften the hard skin.

 

Dry cracked heels

Why does it happen?

This is a very common problem which can be slight to very severe.

How do I prevent it?

Moisturise feet with products containing urea such as La Roche-Posay’s Iso-Urea cream or AHA/BHAs to help soften and remove the thickened top layers of the skin. Use in combination with filing or paring to help lift very thick areas.

 

Fungal nail infections

Why does it happen?

Very commonly seen in runners again due to sweaty feet and synthetic footwear.

How do I prevent it?

Keep nails short. If you frequently wear nail varnish give your nails time out without varnish. Once infected nails can become discoloured, distorted and brittle. If occurring in 1-2 nails, you can treat this with over the counter anti-fungal nail lacquer. If occurring in multiple nails speak to your GP as you may require tablet treatment.

Verruccas

Why does it happen?

These are very common and caused by viral infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) of the skin. They are flat rough areas on the soles of the feet with a central cluster of black dots. They are contagious and can be spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, or indirectly through contact with contaminated surfaces such as wet environments found in swimming pools and showers.

How do I prevent it?

Infections will often clear up within a year but can sometimes be very stubborn and difficult to get rid of. Identify them early and get treating with a topical treatment containing salicylic acid. If they do not respond to treatment seek the advice of your pharmacist or GP.