As someone that works and lives in the Greater Boston Area, there’s nothing that quite brings the city together like the Boston Marathon— especially since the tragic bombing in 2013. But it has been both encouraging and uplifting to see so many passionate, dedicated athletes return year after year and refuse to be deterred. And because of that, I look forward to seeing the blue and yellow take over the city a little more every year.
While I won’t be running this year, I have a few skin care tips that could make all the difference for runners. Because while marathons require months and years of physical training, skin preparation and aftercare is something that should never go overlooked.
Before/during the run:
This seems straightforward enough to most people, but I can’t over-emphasize the importance of staying hydrated. It’s not just essential to your endurance, but essential to your skin. The last thing you want to deal with while running is sore, flaky skin due to sun exposure. It goes without saying that running works up a sweat. Make sure to keep your electrolytes in balance during your run in order to avoid muscle cramps or more serious health issues.
A common problem that I see among runners is a skin condition called Grover’s disease. Grover’s disease appears as itchy red bump on the chest. This rash is secondary to inflammation of the sweat ducts. If you suffer from this condition, a mild over the counter hydrocortisone cream may be helpful. A good OTC hydrocortisone to try is Vanicream HC.However, if your rash is severe you will want to see a dermatologist.
Some runners find that they are more prone to folliculitis. One type of folliculitis –pityrosproum folliculitis is very very common in runners. Pityosporum folliculitis results from an overgrowth of yeast at the leval of the hair follicle. A good way to prevent this is by using a Z/P bar. These soaps contain zinc pyrithioe which fights yeast.
If you are prone to acne, you will want to make sure to cleanse and exfoliate your skin to get rid of all of the dirt and build up that can clogged pores.
Don’t wear makeup. I don’t care what any brand claims — no makeup is going to look good or stay in tact after a 26 mile run. And more importantly, wearing makeup during a long, physically demanding task that will cause you to sweat is just asking for clogged pores and acne.
Use sunscreen. Not only do you want to avoid tan lines, but no matter your race, ethnicity or complexion it’s important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays that could ultimately lead to cancer. As I’ve said before, cancer doesn’t discriminate. When you are running, you want to look for a water resistant sunscreen. Water resistant sunscreens impart 80 minutes of sun protection while you are sweating or swimming. You’ll want to look for a physical blocker like zinc and titanium oxide which may stay on the skin a bit better during a long run.
Lastly, let’s talk about chafing. Who doesn’t remember that scene in The Office where Andy goes the extra mile to avoid chafing.
Luckily, you won’t have to go as far as he did to protect yourself from chafing. Chafing can occur wear the clothes or skin are rubbing against skin (groin, butt) it can also occur on the feet. To protect your skin from this you want to use a skin barrier/skin protectant. My favorite is Vaniply because it contains a powerful skin protectant called dimethicone. You can also use Petroleum Jelly.
After the run, make sure to thoroughly cleanse your skin and get yourself the carbs and cosmos you deserve!