Skin Protection For Athletes

Millions of people around the world engage in sports and physical activities daily. Skin protection is often ignored, but together with injuries which can happen often, and due to these kinds of activities will and can affect the skin.

Besides, athletes are exposed to the sun for extended periods of periods heavily, take frequent showers, and certain areas of the body are subject to continuous friction for several hours per day.

They are in a more exposed position to various environmental elements such as sunlight, rain, wind, snow, dust, smog, pollution, and chlorine.

Many of these health issues are minor but can impact an athlete’s ability to do their best through by causing discomfort or being spreadable. This means that an entire team can be exposed to the same condition. Certain skin conditions may cause athletes to miss out on playing time and be disqualified from competition.

This blog strives to teach people about skin issues that are often encountered by active people, as well as provide insight into how one can take care of those skin conditions with an economical, straightforward plan.


Athletic people are particularly susceptible to all types of contamination! The heat and sweat from your skin combined with the grime in your pores is the reason for this. Any markings or wounds on the outside of the body only exacerbate the situation.

Those who take part in sports that require physical contact seem to be the most impacted. Wrestlers are prone to contracting Ringworm, which is a fungus, as well as herpetic whitlow, an extremely contagious virus, which affects the fingers.

An athlete’s foot is a type of fungus that affects the space between the toes and feet. It festers in individuals with sweaty feet. Mycotic illnesses are also frequently present in the groin, axilla and toenails.

Athletes who go barefoot in shared showers, or make use of unsanitary gym mats, may experience viral warts on the feet, which are especially prevalent amongst swimmers. Warts can be really painful and tend to come back even with treatment.

Scrum strep is a type of bacterial contamination which is frequently seen in rugby players and athletes who spend a lot of time in the ocean (surfers and divers). This bacteria is also capable of causing kidney infections that necessitate a hospital stay.

The areas affected by the infection are inflamed and painful, with a yellowish-brown discharge that looks like solidified honey. Athletes who participate in water sports may be more prone to some uncommon bacterial ailments that necessitate months of antibiotic therapy.

Sea turtles can be afflicted with several types of maladies, such as Seabather’s eruption, swimmer’s ear and bikini bottom, which are all bacterial infections. Spending extended periods outdoors in either direct sunlight or at elevated heights can cause cold sores to manifest in the lips and around the mouth.

Having the same mouthpiece used by multiple members of a team can result in a large spread of infection, causing a major problem for athletes and coaches alike! Having scabies or lice outbreaks is immensely itchy and can result in the whole team being disqualified.

Acne is generally caused by sweat, while lumps can form on the scalp and spine as a result of friction from protective gear such as helmets, chin straps, golf bags and other apparatus.

Unusual Bumps and Growths

If an athlete’s gear isn’t a good fit, and they experience constant friction against their skin, they are likely to have lumps or bumps appear at those points of contact.

These bumps are caused by thickened skin tissue. Certain of these could become very painful, and failing to get medical attention for a long period can lead to the growth of tumours. Bumps, tough patches of skin and hardened areas of skin usually show up on the hands, feet, elbows, knees and joints.

A jogger’s toe is a bruise that is located under the toenail, caused by wearing shoes that do not fit properly and abrupt stopping of movement. Those engaging in physical activities such as sports and strength training may also develop stretch marks on areas like the shoulders, knees and thighs.

Sun Burns and the Risk of Skin Cancer

Athletes who train and compete outdoors are likely the most endangered individuals when it comes to being exposed to UV radiation. Though fair complexions are more prone to developing skin cancers, those with a darker skin tone are still capable of forming non-malignant lumps and bumps that are challenging to cure.

It’s widely assumed incorrectly that neither winter nor aquatic athletes are in danger of developing tumours caused by radiation exposure, due to exposure to sunlight being largely diminished. In actuality, the risks are greater, as the reflection of the sun’s rays by water and snow amplifies exposure.

Frequent exposure to intense sunburns can raise an individual’s chances of developing cancer. Moreover, sweating increases the chances of sunburn. The discomfort of severe sunburn can prevent an athlete from practising for multiple days.

It is necessary to get a medical checkup right away if moles expand in size, cause itching, bleed, or become discoloured. This may be a sign of cancer. People who cycle, run marathons and swim are especially unlucky since they usually don’t have the chance to put sunscreen on again.

Research has found that the majority of athletes do not apply any sunscreen, and those who do are likely to overlook their lips, ears, and the back of their neck. Team physicians should be aware that some drugs can cause the skin to be more responsive to the sun’s rays.

Itches and Allergies

It isn’t common, but athletes can have allergies to the gear they use, particularly to metals, rubber, fiberglass, and fibreglass found in cleaning products like shoes, wetsuits, goggles, mouthpieces, tapes, and racquet handles.

Itching, redness and an oozing rash are associated with allergies. Outdoor sportsmen also risk insect bites and stings. Such allergies can be debilitating. Swimmers may end up with extremely parched skin, causing itchiness and making them more susceptible to allergies.

Sports-related skin injuries

The frictional force from equipment or the activity itself can lead to chafing, scrapes, blisters, corns, calluses, bruising (black heel), bare spots, and ingrown hair and nails in the parts of the skin that suffer high levels of friction and pressure.

The author wishes to draw attention to the misuse and inappropriate use of anabolic steroids. It is common knowledge that the use of these medications can lead to liver damage, cardiac issues, hypertension, cerebral vascular accidents, and psychological instability. From a skin specialist’s point of view, they may result in thinning of the hair, pimples, women growing facial hair, men developing female-like breasts, and marks from the stretching of the skin. The practice of sharing needles is strongly discouraged during the time of HIV.

Skin Care for Athletes

Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher that is waterproof is an absolute must-have.

A sunscreen paste that contains a mix of zinc oxide and calamine can be used to guard certain parts of the body such as the cheeks, nose, lips, and ears from UV rays. This form of protection acts as an obstacle against the sun’s rays. Use lip balms which have sunscreen in them. Sunscreen must be reapplied every 90 minutes.

Specialized garments, shoes that are fitted with felt cushioning, and sports equipment that is professionally tailored can help a player prevent rubbing wounds. Think about having a pair of shoes you can change into in the middle of your workout session for longer exercises.

It is crucial to shower after every game or practice with mild soaps and shampoos that do not have a scent. This is especially important for swimmers. Bring plastic shoes to public bath locations and don’t exchange soaps, towels, brushes, or face guards.

Keep your hair and toes dry. Apply antifungal powder to the areas under your arms, your groin, your backside, and your feet. Swimmers need to use moisturizers liberally. Select items which are declared ‘allergen-free’, ‘non-pimple-causing’, and ‘examined by a dermatologist’.

Consider applying hand and foot creams which contain either urea or glycolic acid for smoother skin and to get rid of corns and calluses. Toenails must be cut straight (and not rounded). You should frequently clean your face with facial cleaning tissues and cleansers that are made for fighting acne.

It is important to keep gym equipment clean by cleaning it often with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water or rubbing alcohol. After each practice, the garments worn, such as socks and underwear, should be cleaned and exposed to strong sunlight so that they are completely dry.

Athletes who engage in activities which involve sand (e.g., beach volleyball) ought to make sure the sand is uncontaminated by animal waste. Doing a quick scan of your body, particularly on your hands and feet, every single day after a sporting activity or practice is very useful.

It is important not to ignore any rash or discomfort of the skin, and to inform your team physician if this is the case so that they can make a referral to a dermatologist. It is imperative to deter the spread of infestation within your entire group.

Athletes who are active outdoors need to always ensure that they have an adequate amount of sunscreen and bug spray. Female athletes need to put on a sports bra for reinforcement and to keep away from nipple irritation.

If an athlete has suffered a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting, a follow-up sting could prove to be deadly. Your team doctor should make you aware of this, and you can get a second opinion from a skin specialist about the use of immunotherapy shots.

Ways to Protect Your Skin

These are some useful strategies that can help keep your skin safe…

1. Moisturize daily

The skin’s top layer is called the epidermis. It creates a waterproof shield between one’s body and the outer world. It’s the skin layer where drying takes place. And this is key.

Healthy skin contains ~30% water. Each day, it sheds about one pint of fluid but you likely lose more. If the amount of water in the skin dips below 10%, it can cause irritation, scales, and itching. This results in irritation, splitting and swelling: symptoms you might be familiar with.

Why does this happen?

Epidermal cells are adhered to by a fatty adhesive made from a combination of natural oils. When the adhesive is weakened, the rate of evaporation of water (and its outcomes) rises.

The factors that can weaken the sticking power of glue are overexposure to sunlight, excessive cleaning, harsh scrubbing, underlying health issues, and cold weather.

It’s important to note that the outermost layer of skin tends to lessen in thickness over time, generally due to the continual force of UV exposure. Thinner skin doesn’t retain moisture as well. In addition to this, the generation of natural oil diminishes as one gets older.

Although dry skin is not a severe health issue, it is irritating and unattractive and can result in issues like eczema or diseases (let’s not forget the epidermis has a key role!).

To manage this, moisturize daily. Apply an SPF-fortified moisturizer in the morning to guard against exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun as you operate during the day. Fill your bottle up if you’re not hydrated or if you find yourself staying outside for a longer period than you intended to.

2. Never forget sunscreen

It makes no difference what the temperature is outside or what season it is; ultraviolet light is always present. If you’re going outside for prolonged periods in any season, make sure that all of your skin that is not covered by clothing is protected with quality sunblock.

It is suggested that you apply sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 and the European UVA symbol (or UVA 4-5). Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours and don’t forget to cover your lips, nose, neck, and ears – areas often ignored by athletes engaging in long-distance activities and therefore more prone to sunburn.

3. Use the UPF kit

Covering yourself with garments that block out the threat of an assault on your skin is an additional way to safeguard it.

But beware – not all fabrics are created equal. A white cotton t-shirt provides the same level of protection from the sun as SPF 5 and you could potentially get sunburned while wearing it.

UPF is similar to SPF in that it is a rating that is used to indicate the amount of protection that a fabric offers from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is an assessment of how much shielding the fabric offers against UV rays.

Denim has a very high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 1,700, meaning it is very effective at blocking UV rays, but it is not suitable for everyday use. Look out for UPF 50+ active and running wear. It is a wise move if you do not prefer to go jogging with facial lotions on your face.

4. Protect your bonnet

Your head is unprotected when exposed to intense sunlight, even if it is warm outside. It is even more applicable if you are bald or have a very short haircut on top. Wear a beanie or cap. There are breathable, lightweight, UPF 50+ variants out there. It is better to use sun protection than to get sunburned or suffer from heat exhaustion.

5. Wear sunglasses more often

It is sensible to protect your skin from UV rays daily, and perhaps we should all be wearing sunglasses more frequently than we currently are.

Even when it’s cloudy, the ultraviolet radiation levels can still be high. It is essential to have sunglasses that have UV400 protection (or the CE kite mark) as part of your equipment. Steer clear of unprofessional lenses which may cause more harm than good, as mentioned in this post on eye safety.

6. Skin recovery

Assist your skin in regenerating and restoring itself after spending a prolonged period in the outdoors. You should attempt to take a shower soon after your jog to stop your pores from becoming blocked. After taking a shower, apply your moisturizer to rebuild the external shield.

Moisturizers can serve two distinct purposes depending on their components: either act as a barrier to prevent moisture from evaporating or attempt to introduce hydration to the surface of the skin. Putting on lotion or cream right after getting out of the shower while your skin is still wet locks in humidity.

Do not neglect your hands and body – they will thoroughly appreciate having a special layer of moisture added to them each and every day. The importance of being able to see and feel better is not diminished by this.

7. Check moles

It is recommended that you examine your skin for any moles or discolourations that may have altered every two to three months. Be wary of any alterations; look out for expanding dimensions, shifting shape, fresh hues, oozing, soreness, forming scabs, a reddish tinge around the borders, or itching.

It is much more advantageous to have any skin problems investigated and treated soon, rather than letting them continue over a long period. Do not hesitate to contact a medical professional; they would rather you tell them what is going on.


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