advertisement

Sports Injuries

Updated 25 March 2015

Chafing, athlete's foot, blisters, acne - skin problems runners have to deal with

Sprains and fractures aren't the only hazards athletes face. Skin problems such as blisters, athlete's foot, acne mechanica and turf burn are also common among sports enthusiasts. Here's what you can do.

The five skin conditions most often seen in athletes are blisters; turf burn (abrasions from falls on an artificial surface); athlete's foot (a fungal infection); sun exposure, and a type of acne called acne mechanica, according to the American Academy of Dermatology in their news release.

"Athletes who are aware of these five common issues can take action to prevent the vast majority of dermatologic problems they may encounter," said Dr. Brian Adams, professor and chair of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in the USA.

Blisters are caused by heat, moisture and friction between the skin and shoes. Adams said the best way to prevent blisters is to wear synthetic, moisture-wicking socks, which help keep the skin cool and dry.

If you do get a blister, drain the fluid through one small point and keep the rest of the blister as intact as possible, because the skin provides good natural protection to promote healing, Adams said. It's also important to keep the blister clean, he said.

ReadFirst aid for blisters

Turf burns, which occur when you skid across grass or astro turf, put athletes at risk for skin infection. Reduce the risk of turf burns by wearing additional padding, he suggested. If you suffer a turf burn, clean it carefully, apply a friction-reducing substance such as petroleum jelly and cover it with an adhesive dressing.

Athlete's foot can be prevented by wearing synthetic, moisture-wicking socks and by wearing sandals in locker rooms and showers. If you're prone to athlete's foot, use an antifungal cream as a preventive measure, Adams said.

Read: What is athlete's foot and how can I get rid of it?

Acne mechanica, also known as sports-induced acne - is caused by heat, moisture, friction and clogged pores. It often occurs in areas where helmets, pads or other equipment cover skin and rub against it for an extended length of time.

To prevent the condition, place a barrier between the skin and equipment and shower as soon as your training is done.

Athletes are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light when they play outdoors in the daytime, even on cloudy days and in the winter. This can lead to sunburns and skin damage. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher, and apply to all exposed skin, including the ears and hair parts, he recommended. Reapply at least every two hours that you're outside.

If you encounter any of these skin problems, a dermatologist can help treat them.

Read more:

Skin infections spread easily amongst athletes

Sports injuries and trauma to the teeth

How you can avoid sports injuries

Blister on heel, Shutterstock
 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Sports Injuries Expert

Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules