You and sports-induced acne

Yes, there is a type of acne that is induced by sports participation. It is called acne mechanica, and it is caused by heat, pressure, occlusion of the skin and repetitive frictional rubbing.

Sports gear or equipment that are often culprits in causing this type of acne include helmets and helmet straps, tight uniforms made of synthetic fabric, shoulder pads and straps, tight headbands and straps and packs of backpackers.

Other possible causes of this condition and of so-called sandpaper acne, include equipment straps worn by soldiers, adhesive tape on the skin, tight synthetic underwear, tight bra straps, tight jeans, long hours of violin playing and hippie headbands.

There are ways to prevent an outbreak of acne mechanica:

  • Showering immediately after sports activities, making sure to wash all areas well that were closed up by straps, by padding or by tight uniform.  
  • Wearing a clean cotton T-shirt under sports uniforms, especially synthetic ones.  
  • Avoiding covering the forehead for long times with a headband or cap.  
  • Using anti-acne medication on affected areas.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD