I was having a discussion with my team at kaia naturals recently and one of the girls mentioned that she gets very itchy whenever she exercises, usually on her arms where she has eczema. She did not realize that the itchiness was from sweat drying on her skin. This is one of many issues that happen when you leave sweat on your skin.
You could be inviting bacteria that is detrimental to your skin when you don’t shower after exercise. With that in mind, I am going to tell you what sweat does to your skin and how to prevent these skin conditions from appearing in the first place.
What’s In Sweat?
Sweat is 99% water, and the rest is sodium chloride, lactic acid and urea. Before I talk about the negative effects of sweat, I want to clarify that sweating is good for you. It’s when it is left to dry on your skin that it attracts bacteria that can cause redness, acne flare-ups, and clogged pores.
What Other Type of Skin Conditions Can Sweat Cause?
Sweat is harmless for the most part, but you need to know that when you don’t wash off after the gym, these skin conditions can arise:
When you don’t shower within two or three hours, you are more likely to contract bacterial infections on your skin. Heat rashes are the most common since they occur whenever bacteria and sweat come into contact on the body.
No one wants to talk about this and find it embarrassing, but sweat can produce acne problems, particularly on your back. When sweat is mixed with bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus and yeast infections such as pityrosporum, they cause inflamed follicles that appear as acne-like lesions on your face and torso.
This is a more serious skin condition that is not caused by sweat per se, but it does aggravate it. If you have eczema, exercise can make it worse because when you sweat, the moisture evaporates to cool you down and causes your skin to dry out. This leaves a salty residue that irritates it further. It can even make you feel itchy during your workout.
Yes, I am going there. When you sweat, sensitive areas such as your breasts, groin, and underarms are more likely to come into contact with bacteria since they have folds. They are the perfect condition for harboring candida yeasts, which can develop into a yeast infection unfortunately.
Image by Leon Martinez
I Don’t Have Time to Shower, So What Do I Do?
You probably feel like you have to sacrifice your midday workout after reading that list. You don’t have to worry though because we have some tried and true tips to help you get fresh and remove the salt and bacteria from your skin without taking too much time away from your day:
Guard Yourself against Sweat
The salt and acidity in perspiration can dry out your skin, so your best bet is to always keep a towel on you so that you can wipe off the sweat as you work out or use wet wipes like the vitamin cleanse. Don’t use your shirt because you are still transferring sweat to your skin.
- Cotton is ideal since it is the softest on your skin.
- Get clothes one size larger so that they don’t rub against your skin.
- Consider wearing your clothes inside out so that the seams don’t rub against you.
- Wear sweat wicking sports clothing. It will take trial and error to get it right.
- Wear layers so that you can strip them off as you warm up so you don’t overheat.
- Always wash your clothes after your wear them. Don’t let them stink and fester in your gym bag only to put them back on for your next workout.
If you have any other quick hacks for the gym, please share them with us down below. We would love to hear from you!
Feature Image by Sachith Hettigodage
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Derived from bamboo fibres, these cloths are designed to be returned to the earth. Plant the cloth, water the soil, and watch it disappear.