Can athletic activity make acne worse?

I am a 17 year old girl, and was wondering,Will playing winter soccer cause my already acne prone skin to break out even more ? I've visited two different dermatologist which did not exactly help my acne. I use the acne treatment from Clinic, and am afraid of the large amount of sweat that gets stuck with dirt by the wind with practice, as well as on game days.

It depends a little on where the acne is. Sometimes back and chest acne seem to get worse with the occlusion by tight sports bras and t-shirts, but in general, exercise and sweating don’t make acne worse. Dirt and wind on the face with sweat, won’t make it worse but don’t rub it into your face. Acne is caused ultimately by hormones which affect oil flow, pore plugging, inflammation, bacteria and cyst formation.


It’s better to put some moist towlettes or a small towel or washcloth (get it wet with water) in your athletic bag and gently clean off your face. You’ll wipe your sunscreen off too but it’s probably mostly gone with all the sweating. If you’re really oily and acne prone, buy a small container of acne wipes and use them at the break.


Happy holidays!  Dr. I


Read Dr. Irwin’s article Acne in Depth.


Learn about what are the best skin care products recommended by dermatologists for acne.

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!