Most runners are good about tending to achy muscles and joints. But our largest organ, our skin, endures its share of woes, partially due to our love of running through any kind of weather. Here's how to keep your outer layer healthy and comfortable.
PROBLEM: Acne: Breakouts can occur year-round, regardless of the outside temperature, because the biggest contributing factor is your body's core temperature. As you heat up, glands in the skin secrete more oil, which clogs pores.
PREVENT IT: Wash your face and shower as soon as possible after you run, says dermatologist Rodney Basler, M.D. If you're not able to, at least change into a fresh shirt and sports bra. Make certain that you are wearing non-cotton breathable fabrics to wick all the moisture away from your skin.
TREAT IT: Follow up with an astringent to close up pores.
PROBLEM: Athlete's Foot: Damp shoes are a welcoming environment for fungus and bacteria. Take sweaty runners' feet, combine them with shoes soaked from wet or slushy roadways, and you've got the perfect setup for athlete's foot.
PREVENT IT: Make sure you are wearing a non-cotton, wicking sock so that your feet stay dry. Technical socks are known to stay dry on the inside, even on the wettest days! Change out of soggy socks right away. Remove insoles or orthotics and stuff shoes with newspaper to absorb moisture.
TREAT IT: An antifungal medication like Lotrimin AF is easier to apply than a messy powder, and its cooling sensation soothes itchy feet.
PROBLEM: Blisters: Many factors alone or in combination can cause these unwanted foes. Fluid under the skin causes bulging, and painful blisters emerge. Cotton socks often are the culprit as they soak up sweat and become abrasive like sandpaper on foot hot spots.
PREVENT IT: First, try to find out why the blister occurred. The staff of a running specialty store like Fleet Feet can help you isolate the cause(s). The switch to technical socks alone often helps.They reduce friction regulate foot temperature. Adding some foot powder before a run can also help.
TREAT IT: It's best to let a blister heal on its own. But if yours is painful, dip a needle in rubbing alcohol, pierce the blister, drain the fluid, and cover the area with a sterile dressing or “2nd Skin.” Applying some antiseptic ointment also is helpful.
PROBLEM: Sun Damage: Sunburn is an issue in both winter and summer, but many runners think they aren't at risk during the colder weather. Not so. The shortened hours of daylight force many runners to run in the middle of the day when the rays of the sun are most intense. Keep in mind that snow reflects 80 percent of the sun's rays.
PREVENT IT: Winter apparel shields most of our skin. But our faces still need protection. Don't forget the sunblock. Wear a hat and sunglasses to cut the glare. Face masks and hoods also help prevent windburn! You can also apply bag balm, found in most Rx stores, to protect your face from the extreme cold and wind of winter.
TREAT IT: Take Tylenol or Advil to reduce the inflammation and discomfort of sunburn. To rehydrate skin and prevent peeling, use a moisturizing lotion.
Remember, just because it is cold outside doesn't mean that you can forget about protecting your skin!