Triathlete Skin Protection Guide

Participation in triathlon is hitting an all-time high. The bad news? Thus, the rates of melanoma as well as other grave skin problems are increasing.

Dr Robert Nossa, who is the director of clinical research and laser services at The Dermatology Group of Northern New Jersey and also is an Ironman triathlete, reported that there is an unmistakable bond between the rising popularity of endurance sports and patients who have skin issues from excessive sun rays.

Nossa comments that it is ironic that she is seeing more clients who are very fit, and physically active, and place a very high emphasis on aerobics. However, cases of skin issues, such as pre-maturing, basal cell carcinomas, and in some cases melanoma, are also on the rise among those in their 30s and 40s. I attribute that to the movement toward endurance sports.”

Running in a race and being scorched can damage your capacity as you are more inclined toward becoming too hot and dried out. Using sunscreen is an easy way to protect your skin from the damaging UV rays of the sun. It’s the first line of defence you should take.

Key Components

You may be drawn to put the SPF 100 in your basket. Don’t. Dr Robert Friedman, a clinical professor at NYU School of Medicine and a dermatologic oncologist, opines that the variations in SPF numbers are largely a marketing ploy. There is hardly any distinction between SPF 30 and SPF 80 when sunscreen is applied correctly.

When it comes to sunscreen, any SPF 30 and above will do, but be sure to look for a product that offers protection from both UVA and UVB radiation, both of which can affect your skin.

Suggestions for acquiring water-resistant products include picking items that contain ingredients like stabilized avobenzone, mexoryl, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide, notes Friedman.

Spray, Swipe Or Slather

It is difficult to decide which protection for your skin to select from the great many skin care items offering protection. It’s a challenging decision to make, whether you prefer the product to be presented in cream, stick, spray, or a wipe.

So which type of sunscreen is best for triathletes? Nossa states it’s ultimately the choice of the person which sunscreen option they prefer, whether it wipes such as Shady Day’s Daily Sun Protection Wipes SPF 30 or applications like Mission Skincare Anti-Sting Sunscreen SPF 30+ Facestick costing around £7.50 from

He states that the process is hassle-free and easy, and they are small enough to be stuffed into a rucksack and a saddle bag. The heavier consistency of a stick sunscreen is beneficial for the face since it will not drip into your eyes when you become sweaty.

Friedman suggests that people use mineral-based products, like Ultra Sport Stick ($16, from his own skincare line, MDSolarSciences, to care for the delicate areas of skin on the face and around the eyes.

According to Dr Brooke Jackson, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago, spray-on sunscreens are just as convenient.

She emphasizes that spray applications are incredibly convenient and provide a lighter feel on the skin, which is less likely to cause blemishes in those with delicate complexions. We appreciate Kiss My Face SPF 50 Sports Clear Spray ($16.99, and Kinesys SPF 30 Fragrance-Free Sunscreen Spray.

Reapplying Rules

No matter what kind of sunscreen you use, make sure to put it on your skin fifteen minutes before you go out so it can be absorbed. That way, you won’t lose it while you’re sweating.

You should put on more sunscreen every two hours if you are outside. Nossa recommends that you add sunscreen to the items you put in your transition zone.

Nossa suggests that you should quickly wipe down areas of your body requiring more protection, such as your cheeks and nose before you begin biking or running out of transition. And don’t forget your lips.

Jackson states that men have a higher rate of skin cancer on their lips because the majority of women typically wear lipstick, which can act as a form of protection. It is important to regularly apply your lip balm again such as Jack Black Intense Therapy SPF 25 (£5 or Scape SPF 50+ Lip Balm (£3 every two hours or more frequently should your lips be feeling dry. In the worst situation, apply whatever make-up product you are currently using on your face to your lips. Just be careful you don’t ingest it,” says Jackson.

Test It Out

Do not forget the guideline that cautions against utilizing unfamiliar equipment on race day. The same goes for sunscreen.

Choose two things to experiment with while you are practising and go with the one that works the best for you. You don’t want to get sick from the coconut fragrance that may come from your skin.

Extra Coverage

Protecting your skin doesn’t stop at sunscreen. By covering as much of your skin as you can while out in the sun, you can provide a heightened level of protection from the damaging effects of the sun, especially if you are fair-skinned or more easily prone to sunburn.

Jackson advises that as appealing as it may be to go shirtless or otherwise undressed while you are exercising or competing, it is best to resist that temptation and stay fully clothed. A shirt can offer some form of protection against the sun, having an SPF of roughly 8, so it is still better than not wearing anything.

Built-In Protection

Retailers such as Asics, Brooks, De Soto, K-Swiss, Mizuno, Pearl Izumi, CW-X, Salomon, and Skins incorporate protection against UV rays into the materials that they use.

Nossa advises picking pieces of fabric with a tightly knit weave and a form-fitting shape to create the best possible blocking.

You can wear arm sleeves, for example, those made by Tyr or SunnySleeveZ, to help your skin not get too hot when running or biking on hot days and also to help protect it from UV rays. The Tyr ones cost around £35 and can be found on, while the SunnySleeveZ are around £15 at

Head Gear

The visor you love so much may be perfect for blocking the sun from your face, but it won’t do anything to protect your scalp from the sun.

According to Jackson, a hat constructed of a fabric that absorbs moisture and has the property of being able to ‘breathe’ is the preferable option. The Race Hat from Headsweats offers a very high level of protection from the sun’s UV rays – at only About £15 – which is available from their website. If you are unwilling to give up your favourite visor?

Jackson suggests that you apply sunscreen to your scalp before going outside, or alternatively, you can put on a bandana underneath to safeguard your scalp which is more susceptible to sun damage.

Eye Care

It is possible to suffer from sunburn to the eyes even when one cannot observe the harm caused. This can have the potential to bring about severe medical problems and in extremely rare instances even cause ocular melanoma.

Jackson highlights the importance of sunglasses in reducing the risk of cataracts for people like bikers and runners who are particularly vulnerable to this condition. “They can also protect the ‘crow’s feet’ area.”

She recommends wearing polarized lenses, such as Oakley’s Polarized Fast Jacket (around £200 on or Smith’s Pivlock V90 Max (around £120 on

“Make sure they’re 96–97 per cent filtered,” says Jackson. For all of your swimming pleasure during the summertime, get Speedo’s Vanquisher 2.0 goggles, which will protect your eyes from the sun with 100 per cent UV protection. You can purchase them for a great price of around £15 at

Triathlete’s Skin Care Tips

Sunburns, Skin Cancer

Skin cancer and precancers are serious concerns for triathletes. Patients may experience skin issues such as an unhealed sore, an evolving mole, or continuous scaling spots, but these can all be either avoided or lessened by careful prevention.

The protection of your skin is vital when it comes to racing and exercising, as it is responsible for maintaining body temperature. Sunburn can impede your optimal performance while running because it leads to dehydration, feeling hot, and being uncomfortable.

The amount of skin cancer risk is determined by numerous variables like complexion, a span of exposure to the sun, nutritious intake, the number of sunburns and moles someone has, as well as genetics. These variables affect the number of free radicals produced by the sun and how their skin reacts to it.

• Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above to your body before stepping out. • When biking, you can spray sunscreen onto your scalp to protect it from the sun. • Wear caps when going for a swim and caps when running. • Exercise in the morning before 10 a.m. or later at 4 p.m. to evade the most extreme sunlight. • Diving suits grant additional coverage over and above aiding with buoyancy. • Long-sleeved activewear manufactured from breathable fabric lets you cycle without feeling the heat. • Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours as it can lose half its potency after that time and all potency after four hours.


Blisters are a widespread injury and usually not something that athletes seek medical treatment for. Blisters are commonly located on the feet and have a greater probability of appearing from extended jogs.

Wear socks to reduce the rubbing between your shoes and your feet if you are going to be doing more than a half-Ironman in length. Even if you’re just doing shorter distances, it’s still recommended to wear socks if you are especially prone to getting blisters.

Here are some tips to keep you blister-free:

• Make sure the shoes you purchase are made for your individual feet and running type. • Rub a vegetable oil-based product on your feet and between your toes. • Put on socks made with no seams that fit properly, provide ventilation and are either artificial or wool. • See to it that your laces are fastened securely to reduce the amount of shoe movement. • Ensure your shoes and feet are free of dirt and grime by taking the time to rinse them off.

Saddle Sores

This is a collection of skin disorders or diseases that can arise when one has been riding a saddle for extended periods. Saddle sores may initially be a slight friction-induced discomfort, but without proper treatment can become a major issue.

Areas of heat, scratches, and tender skin, can develop into open wounds if your thighs and bottom are continuously rubbing against the saddle. The most effective way to handle this is to apply antibiotic ointment and use a Band-Aid as a cover until the affected area is healed.

A boil is a type of infection that appears as a swelling in the skin and is sore, red in colour and prone to secreting pus. Seeing a physician might be necessary and it is likely that a medication consisting of antibiotics will be prescribed.

Be sure that your doctor performs a culture test to see if any Staphylococcus bacteria could be resistant. If the boils occur frequently, you may be carrying Staphylococcus bacteria, and this necessitates treatment.

To prevent these problems:

• Get fitted for a bike by a professional. • Select a seat that suits your anatomy. • Increase your distance gradually. • Put on cycling shorts that fit snugly and have a top-notch pad in them. • Post riding, take the shorts off and take a shower straight away. • Clean your shorts after every trip. • Apply a suitable lubricant to both your shorts and yourself like Chamois Butt’r. • Don’t wear any underwear underneath the bike shorts.


Immersing yourself in chlorinated water can be harsh on the hair and skin. If you have the opportunity to change up your pool workouts for ocean or lake swimming or a pool that is treated with ozone, this will reduce your contact with chlorine.

Wait two days after super chlorinating the pool before taking a dip, as that is when the chlorine levels will be the most elevated. Chlorine dries out the skin.

This condition may cause certain athletes to display white patches on their skin, known as pityriasis alba, or raise small pimples on their upper arms known as keratosis pilaris.

To decrease chlorine effects:

  • Rinse your body and hair before getting in the pool.
  • Wear a swim cap to keep chlorine from damaging your hair.
  • Shampoo and condition your hair and wash your skin with a mild cleanser after your swim.
  • Consider a chelating shampoo to remove the copper elements from your hair.
  • Use a gentle soap—the Cetaphil bar and Dr Bronner’s liquid soap are kind to the skin.
  • Select a lotion- or cream-based sunscreen to apply 20 minutes before your workout. Your skin will benefit from the added moisture.
  • Apply a good moisturizer to the skin before bed. Creams and oils are more effective than a lotion base.
  • If a rash or skin condition doesn’t resolve in one to two weeks, see your doctor.


Friction between skin and clothing is the primary problem in this scenario, particularly in the areas near the throat, underarms, groin, and nipples. Chafing is commonly experienced in swimmers’ necks due to wetsuits and speed suits, while sleeveless suits often induce it in the armpits.

Having a suit that is tailored to your exact specifications regarding body length and weight can reduce the likelihood of chafing. Even with clothing that is correctly fitted, chafing can happen when you are covering more distance.

Apply a lubricant that is not oil-based to minimize friction in the neck, underarms, and thighs to assist you to get out of your swimsuit after competing. Petroleum-based lubricants can break down your wetsuit more quickly.

Friction is typically experienced during a race in the areas of the armpits, feet, inner thighs, and for some, the nipples.

Having apparel that fits you well and is made of technical material is beneficial because it doesn’t contain seams which cause friction. Putting lube in sensitive places before a competition or practice session lessens friction.

Saving Your Skin

You are now equipped to protect your skin from exposure to the sun. It’s possible that having had too many sunburns, you are now noticing the development of fresh moles and blemishes on your skin. Nossa suggests seeing a dermatologist who is board certified for an examination of the body.

He recommends going for skin cancer screenings every year. Patients considered to be at high risk or who have had skin cancer in the past should go twice a year. It is suggested that you use a handheld mirror to do a self-examination every three months. If you notice any weird markings, fresh lesions, or cuts that don’t seem to be healing, get them inspected by a skin specialist. Skin cancer is treatable if detected early.”

If you are mostly concerned about decreasing wrinkles, lines or sunspots, it would be best for you to book an appointment with an esthetician. However, your dermatologist is still the ideal person to talk to when it comes to skincare treatment advice.

Renée Rouleau, an expert in skincare, triathlete, and creator of her own brand of skincare, suggests that people can have conversations regarding a variety of solutions–ranging from anti-ageing facial serums to more extreme measures like chemical peels and Botox. Rouleau emphasizes the necessity of tending to your skin as much as you would any other part of your body.

Living the life of a triathlete places a large amount of strain on both one’s skin and physical state. You need to be just as dedicated to taking care of your skin as you are to exercising.


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