I am a sloth. I walk my tiny dog at least once a day, sometimes twice if my husband isn’t available to do the afternoon walk. But apart from that, I spend a lot of time sat down. So when I get questions about exercise and rosacea I feel completely unable to help. So, I thought I would ask the members of my fantastic private Facebook group, Rosacea Club, as they are a knowledgable and wonderful bunch. So here we go, some fantastic tips for how to exercise when you have rosacea, from those who know.
We all know that exercise is important, but it’s especially important when you have a skin condition exacerbated by stress. As one of my lovely followers put it, “as a stress relief I find regular exercise to be important for my rosacea. Regular exercise helps me to sleep better, eat better, breathe better and regulate stress better.” But obviously it can be intimidating and nervewracking to do something that might trigger a flare up. I am right there with you with that fear! So here are the tips, with a huge thank you to all of the amazing people who contributed from Rosacea Club.
(It should go without saying at this point that everyone is as different as their rosacea, so what works for some might not work for you and vice versa. Please take the advice here with care and apply it to your situation appropriately)
Table of Contents
Choose your exercise type carefully
The type of exercise people do was one of the biggest points of discussion. The most commonly recommended ‘safer’ forms of exercise were yoga, walking, cycling, and swimming. When it comes to things like yoga, try to keep your head above your heart (and it should go without saying that hot yoga is a no-no for most of us!). With swimming (or water aerobics etc.), if the chlorine irritates your skin, try applying a barrier cream before getting into the pool as this will help protect your skin. I recommended some of my favourites in THIS POST.
“My main tip for people doing resistance training, weights etc is to plan your workout so that low or bending exercises are first. Nothing worse for my face than doing a plank or a deadlift when my blood is pumping as it feels like it will pop!” – Victoria, Rosacea Club member
Be aware of temperature
Extremes of temperature are one of the biggest rosacea triggers so it’s important that you’re aware of both of the temperature of your surroundings and also your own temperature as you exercise.
“Being wary of the temperature of where I’m exercising [helps] cause I feel like I overheat quite fast so if I’m exercising outdoors I’ll make sure it’s at a cooler time of day and I’ve had to ask the gym manager in the past to turn down heating in the gym studio which he was happy to do.” – Rebecca, Rosacea Club member
The barrier creams I mentioned in the first section can also be useful if you’re exercising in cold or windy weather situations as they cushion the skin against the harsh conditions. However, please be aware that these can trap heat if applied too thickly so it’s a delicate balance!
There are a few ways to keep your body temperature as low as possible while exercising, not all will be possible depending on the situation but are worth bearing in mind: use a fan (either a neck fan or a tower fan), a cooling towel, or a facial mist. Make sure you’re using one that contains hydrating properties rather than just a water spritz which – when it evaporates – may leave your skin more dehydrated: This one from BYOMA or this one from CUREL are both great for sensitive skin.
This might be an obvious one but it’s important so I’m going to put it here. Make sure you are drinking lots of water before, during, and after exercising. Not only is dehydration bad for your health in general, but it can also impact your skin barrier which is really bad news for rosacea.
As I get older I’ve come to realise that worrying what others think of me is pretty pointless. If you are in the middle of an exercise class and feel like you’re getting too hot or red, you can stop. You are paying for it and no one can force you to continue. If you need to step outside to get some air, get a drink, or just catch your breath, you are allowed. If you’re worried, just mention it to the instructor beforehand, they won’t mind. It’s the same deal if you’re in the gym, swimming, or doing yoga at home – if you need to stop, you need to stop. Don’t feel like you have to push through out of embarrassment or fear of people judging you. Your comfort and happiness is more important than the opinion of some stranger who should be focusing on their own work out instead of what you’re doing!
“It’s always possible to adapt a workout to avoid the worst of a rosacea flare. Don’t let rosacea hold you back from a healthy life!” – Hannah, Rosacea Club member
Wear sunscreen if you’re exercising outside
You should all know by now that sunscreen is one of the most important steps in your routine. It should be worn every single day (yes, even in winter, and even if you’re only outside for an hour or so, and even if it’s cloudy). If you applied your sunscreen in the morning and are exercising in the afternoon/evening, you will need to reapply beforehand. Sun exposure is not only a huge rosacea trigger, but also contributes to skin cancer and signs of ageing so it should be a no-brainer. There’s more information on suncreen HERE including links to further reading, how much you should be applying, and some information about chemical vs physical sunscreen.
Sunscreens have evolved over the years, so most people will be able to find one that suits them. If your rosacea is reactive, try to look for mineral/physical sunscreens but make sure that you are thoroughly cleansing your face at the end of the day (this typically means either a balm or oil cleanser to fully break down the sunscreen) as halfhearted removal can often result in breakouts, which many people incorrectly assume is due to the sunscreen itself. I’m working on a sunscreen blog but in the meantime I shared some favourites in THIS Q&A session on instagram – sunscreen recommendations are on slide 13).
Cool down after exercising
For some people, the aftermath of exercise is when the real trouble begins, with skin that will not cool down and stays red for hours. My followers shared some great tips for this situation: have a cool shower afterwards (not cold, that will actually end up increasing your body temperature as your blood vessels expand to bring blood to the surface)and/or run your wrists under cold water (your pulse points are where your blood is closest to the surface so this is a way to quickly cool the body). There are some skincare related tips for cooling down afterwards, which are included in the next section…
Skincare after exercise
If your skin is hot and feels stressed, the last thing you might want to do is wash it and apply products, but it’s important to stick to your usual skincare routine. Washing your face is important as it will remove sweat, dirt, and bacteria that’s accumulated over your workout and applying a light moisturiser afterwards will help to avoid that horrible tight and dry feeling when your skin starts to cool down. Even better, you can pick skincare products that not only clean or hydrate but actually help to soothe the skin: I find that gel formula cleansers and moisturisers really help my skin to feel cool and calm when I’m too warm, even better if you can apply something like THIS mask from SkinCeuticals.
Should I wear makeup to exercise?
Some people prefer to go makeup-free when working out because they don’t like the feel of another layer on their skin, especially if they’re sweating. But for others, the irritation of washing their face before *and* after a work out is too much for their skin. And some of the people who responded to me actually found that wearing makeup meant their rosacea flared up less while exercising – perhaps that’s because they weren’t worrying about people looking at their flare up, which lowered their stress levels? It’s hard to say. But this goes to show that there isn’t just one way to exercise with rosacea, or one rule that works for everyone. As with most things related to rosacea, it’s a case of trial and error and seeing what works best for you.
I hope this has helped you, or inspired you to try exercising if you were cautious before. If you have any tips, please feel free to leave them below so we can all learn together.
- Follow me on INSTAGRAM for lots of rosacea updates.
- Get more information on rosacea and my journey so far in my ROSACEA FAQ POST.
- Join my private rosacea FACEBOOK GROUP for support and information.
- I’ve designed some FREE digital downloads to help you get to grips with your rosacea: grab the Rosacea Trigger Checklist, the Rosacea Flare Up Diary, and the How To Speak To Your Doctor form.
- If you’re a Pinterest user, I share all my rosacea posts (and some interesting posts by others) on this board: Rosacea Articles, Reviews, And Infographics.
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