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Bit sporty? Common skin conditions in athletes

Bit sporty? Common skin conditions in athletes
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skin conditions for athletesAthletes are no strangers to skin problems: blisters, turf burns, foot fungus, acne and sunburn are all common problems associated with some athletic pursuits.


Heat, moisture and friction is a recipe for blisters, with anyone using equipment – rackets, bats, bikes – being prone to blisters. Shoes are a common source of blisters, particularly the dreaded first few weeks of a new pair of shoes.

To prevent blisters, you need a barrier between the skin and the object of friction. Socks that keep the feet cool and dry are ideal. When you first feel the spot heating up where a blister is beginning to appear, an extra pair of socks can help, but some Vaseline or blister preventer can also be useful. Also using shoe lace techniques that help distribute weight differently on the foot can help.

To help heal the blister faster, don’t remove the skin to drain the fluid – instead, poke a small hole with a pin to drain the fluid, but keep the skin on as long as possible, as it’s natural protection and helps healing.

Turf burns

Falls and skids on fake grass can really burn. Wear extra padding to prevent turf burns, but if it does occur, clean it well and apply petroleum jelly, then cover with a dressing.

Foot fungus – athlete’s foot

Fungal infections of the foot occur due to the warm, moist environment of a shoe. Prevent athlete’s foot by wearing the right socks that keep the feet dry and cool, and wear thongs in communal showers and change rooms to avoid catching/spreading the fungus.

If you need to, use antifungal cream. If the problem persists despite treatments and proper foot care, see a dermatologist – it might be something else, like dermatitis.


Some acne – acne mechanica – can be caused by heat, moisture, friction and clogged pores, particularly when there are helmets and pads involved. Prevent this by using a barrier. If you already have acne mechanica, it can be hard to treat so see your dermatologist for advice.


Sweating off your sunscreen, then getting burnt, is a common problem amongst athletes, including those involved in winter and water sports. Sweat increases the risk of sunburn and skin damage, so wearing a physical barrier sunscreen like zinc and SPF-50+ sunscreen, with regular two-hourly applications to dry skin, are required. Don’t forget ears, hair parts, and the back of the neck.

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