Can Working Out Cause Hormonal Acne?

The Connection Between Exercise and Hormones

Exercise has long been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved mood, increased energy levels, and weight management. However, for some individuals, an unfortunate side effect of regular exercise is the development of hormonal acne. Understanding the connection between working out and hormonal imbalances can help shed light on this frustrating issue.

Hormonal Imbalances: Unveiling the Culprit

To comprehend why working out may lead to hormonal acne, it’s essential to grasp how hormones interact within our bodies. Several hormones play a role in skin health, particularly testosterone and cortisol. Testosterone promotes oil production in the sebaceous glands while cortisol regulates stress responses. During exercise, these hormone levels fluctuate significantly.

Testosterone Surge:

Intense physical activity triggers a surge in testosterone production—a vital hormone responsible for muscle growth and repair. While this is generally beneficial for fitness enthusiasts seeking gains at the gym or enhanced athletic performance, excess testosterone can stimulate sebum overproduction.

Cortisol Influence:

Engaging in vigorous workouts induces stress on our bodies which prompts cortisol release as part of the body’s natural response mechanism. Elevated cortisol levels contribute to inflammation throughout the body—including the skin—increasing sebum production along with it.

Sweat-Induced Factors

Sweating during exercise plays another crucial role in potentially exacerbating hormonal acne breakouts by clogging pores or irritating existing blemishes:

Pore Clogging:

When sweat mixes with dead skin cells and other impurities present on your skin’s surface during workouts – especially if you do not cleanse afterward – it can lead to pore blockages that trigger acne formation.

Irritation and Friction:

Wearing tight or abrasive workout clothing can cause irritation and friction against the skin, leading to inflammation. Sweat-soaked garments that remain in contact with your body for extended periods may worsen existing acne or create new breakouts.

Preventing and Managing Hormonal Acne from Exercise

Though exercise-induced hormonal acne can be aggravating, there are several steps you can take to prevent and manage breakouts while maintaining an active lifestyle:


Ensure you cleanse your face before exercising to remove any impurities that could further clog pores during sweat-inducing workouts. Following exercise, promptly cleanse again to eliminate accumulated sweat and oil.

Avoid Heavy Makeup:

Avoid wearing heavy makeup during workouts as it can mix with sweat and contribute to pore blockages. Opt for lighter alternatives or go without makeup altogether.

Choose Breathable Clothing:

Opt for loose-fitting workout attire made of breathable fabrics like cotton. This reduces friction against the skin and allows better airflow, preventing excessive sweating that could exacerbate acne flare-ups.

Shower Post-Workout:

Take a shower immediately after exercising using a mild cleanser suitable for acne-prone skin. This helps remove sweat, bacteria, dirt, and excess oil lingering on your body’s surface.

The Big Picture: Balance is Key

While working out may potentially trigger hormonal imbalances leading to acne breakouts, it’s essential not to abandon physical activity entirely due to this concern. The benefits of regular exercise far outweigh these temporary challenges faced by some individuals. By adopting preventative measures such as proper cleansing routines and choosing appropriate clothing materials, it is possible to strike a balance between an active lifestyle and healthy skin.