Why does sweat make my acne worsen?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Ask any fiddler and they will tell you that pesky pimples often erupt where their sweaty chin meets the violin rest. Acne comes from plugs of oily sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in your skin. Sweat comes from the eccrine or apocrine glands in your skin. Sometimes the combination of high humidity and increase in perspiration causes pores to plug. Sweat also contains material that bacteria like to feast on, which can worsen acne. So if you tend to be sweat-logged, wash your face after any provocative activity.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Sweat can worsen your acne because it seeps into oil-filled pores, bringing debris and bacteria along with it. Sweat is mostly water, but it also contains salts, sugars, proteins, and dead skin cells that are shed naturally every day. Bacteria living on the skin thrive in the warm, humid environment that sweat provides. They invade the pores and multiply there, causing swelling and inflammation.

If sweat is trapped under heavy clothing, sports gear, and backpacks and can't evaporate, it's still more of a haven for hungry bacteria. That's why people often get acne under sports gear, backpacks, and tight clothing. Doctors recommend that people who are prone to acne wash their face and body with a gentle soap or cleanser after they finish an activity that makes them sweat.

Continue Learning about Acne

Avoiding Adult Acne
Avoiding Adult Acne
Won't they ever go away? As an adult, you expect pimples to be a thing of the past. But for many adults, blemishes continue to mar otherwise healthy s...
Read More
What is an open comedo?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
An open comedo is a clogged pore that has an open surface. The plural of comedo is comedones, an...
More Answers
6 Weird Facts About Acne
6 Weird Facts About Acne6 Weird Facts About Acne6 Weird Facts About Acne6 Weird Facts About Acne
Discover bizarre truths about acne and learn how to fight a bad breakout.
Start Slideshow
How Do I Treat Blackheads?
How Do I Treat Blackheads?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.