While endurance athletes represent the extreme end of the exercising spectrum, dermatologists are anticipating that the sports-related dermatologic injuries they encounter also will be observed in people who exercise more moderately and those who are just beginning a fitness program.
Speaking today at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the When the National Academy of Science??™s Institute of Medicine recently announced that Americans should exercise an hour a day to fight the country??™s growing obesity epidemic, collective groans could be heard in big cities and small towns everywhere. However, researchers advise that an exercise program ??“ supplemented by dietary changes ??“ is vital in taking and keeping off weight that is associated with many chronic health problems.
For athletes who train or participate in outdoor sports, overexposure to the sun ??“ which can lead to skin cancer and premature aging ??“ is a serious threat. The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) recommends that everyone, including athletes, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, even on cloudy days. Athletes also should reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially during periods of training and competition, such as a marathon or after the swimming leg of a triathlon. In addition to wearing sunscreen, the Academy advises everyone to wear protective clothing and avoid the midday sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun??™s rays are the strongest, whenever possible.
Dr. Phillips also noted that athletes are prone to different skin problems, depending on the nature of their sport. For example, runners often experience corns, calluses, chafing and conditions known as ???jogger??™s toe??? and ???jogger??™s nipples.??? Swimmers may find themselves with allergic reactions to the rubber components of earplugs and goggles. Bicyclists, on the other hand, can be plagued by frictional hair loss and acne from wearing helmets, superficial abrasions or ???road rash??? after a fall, and ???saddle sores??? from prolonged riding or an ill-fitting seat.
While exercise is beneficial for everyone, it also has been shown to have positive effects for patients with chronic skin disease, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Along with increases in quality of life measures, the patients who exercised experienced less depression and emotional disturbances.
???Although the benefits of exercise far outweigh any temporary dermatologic conditions that may result, it is important for athletes and their doctors to recognize these potential problems and take the necessary steps to prevent them in the first place,??? said Dr. Phillips. ???Because some skin problems can be symptoms of serious health conditions, people should not take them for granted. See your dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if your skin looks unusual or if problems continue or worsen.???