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Skincare for Runners

Posted on July 25 2022

Guest Blog Post by Pretty Athletic's Advisory Dermatologist Dr Mitchell
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Love running and want to take the best care of your skin? Our dermatologist Dr Mitchell sets out his top skincare tips and advice for runners.
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Skincare for Runners
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Hydration
Writing these tips during a European heatwave, reminds me of the one most important thing to do when running, even if trying to avoid the hotter parts of the day, which is to stay well hydrated! Fluids are important for your cardiovascular system (so you don't faint), necessary your kidneys to function (you need water to carry waste products out), and critical for your skin - if you can't sweat enough you'll overheat. So keep the water intake up, before, during and after your run
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Washing & Moisturising your skin post-exercise
Once you've been out for your regular workout, do give your body a wash with a nice gentle cleansing wash, to get rid of sunscreen, sweat and oil from your skin. This helps to reduce the chance of irritation and bacterial overgrowth, both of which could contribute to rashes, folliculitis and acne flares.Then moisturising all over with a light emollient will help your skin stay in top form for further workouts!
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Clean your kit!
Seems simple, but it is still worth a mention - washing your running kit regularly will remove sweat and residue of skin oils. This is what bacteria like to live on, breaking these organic molecules down, and producing that lovely old gym-bag smell. Then putting on unwashed used kit could transfer the now thriving bacteria back onto your skin, increasing the chances of body acne or spots occuring. So remove the bugs' favourite nutrient source by washing clothes before they get a chance to set up a home in your damp running kit!
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UV Protection
Take it from me, as a dermatologist, the one piece of advice I give to all my skin cancer patients is wear more sunscreen when out and about doing your 'normal' activities - walking the dog, gardening, visiting the pub garden on a nice, lazy, sunny Sunday. Of course outdoor activities includes running if you hadn't already guessed! Everyone thinks that because you're not going outside just for the sun (ie sunbathing) that the sunlight exposure doesn't somehow affect your skin. But UV exposure does all add up, and if you're running regularly for even a couple of times a week especially between 10am and 4pm, you will start to accumulate the damage. The long-term skin problems include increased solar freckling and pigmentation including melasma, skin lines/wrinkles, sun burn, skin cancers - the list goes on.
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But there are lots of ways to protect your skin from the damaging UV rays. The simplest solution is to avoid the hot parts of the day, running early mornings or late afternoon and early evenings are the best times.
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If you must run outside at the hottest times of the day, stay covered up when running, with long-sleeve tops and leggings/compression garments, plus a hat and ideally sunscreen lotion applied liberally. Sun protection factor (SPF) 50 is great if it's very hot, or you are pale/easily burned, or running around lunchtime. But SPF 30 is nearly as good, so slap it on! 
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By the way, if you are one of the lucky people who tan easily, so think you don't need to protect yourself from the sun as much or at all, just be aware this approach may well catch up with you when you're older. Skin cancers are commoner in those with chronic sun exposure, and not just in those who burn easily but never produce a tan. You may rock an excellant tan during the summer months, but without extra protection as well, those UV rays are still going to get through to cause DNA damage and can cause cancers to develop. So please heed the sun advice like your pale-skinned runner friends!
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Post-sun burn
Now, of course we all get caught out on occasions - it could have been overcast (sunlight might not be visible, but UV easily gets through clouds, so be aware!), or it was windy so you didn't notice the heat, or you got caught out miles from home when the blazing sun came out and there was no sunscreen handy. And now you have a sore red face, shoulders and calves. 
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The key thing to do is keep up the moisturising of your skin several times a day over the next few days using a light moisturiser, use vaseline ointment on any blisters areas. You can pop any big blisters and let any fluid out, but keep the 'roof' of the blisters intact, it will act as a natural dressing for the skin underneath. And the most important thing is to avoid further sun exposure of your skin for at least a week, to allow it to physically heal and for the body to repair the sun damaged cells and DNA. 
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Sunglasses
Not just a fashion accessory or practical way to be able to see when heading towards the sun, the UV protection that sunnies provide protect your eyes, reducing the chances of cataracts developing in the lens, and reduces exposure damage to your conjunctiva. If buying cheaper makes of sunglasses, just be sure to check they are certified to protect against UV light at the very least.
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Skincare for Runners
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Love running or have a friend who does? Feel free to share our Skincare for Runners blog post with our top tips for runners, plus take a look at our award-winning skincare products which are (and we may be biased!) THE best skincare products for runners - loved by professional and everyday runners alike, as well as multi-award winning by Women's Running Magazine. x

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