What Are Sweat Pimples and How to Treat Them?

If you notice breakouts after a particularly sweaty workout, don't worry—it's quite common. Sweating, whether from hot weather or exercising, can contribute to a specific type of acne known as sweat pimples.

What Are Sweat Pimples?

Sweat pimples—also referred to as sweat bumps, sweat-induced acne, folliculitis, acne mechanica, or miliaria—are small, inflamed bumps that form on the skin due to sweat, bacteria, dirt, and oil clogging the pores. But what do sweat pimples look like? These pimples typically appear as red or white bumps and can develop on body areas prone to sweat accumulation for example, sweat pimples on back, for many athletes. Other areas include the face, chest, buttocks, neck, armpits, and groin area.

What Causes Sweat Pimples?

As we just mentioned, sweat acne is primarily caused by a combination of sweat, heat, friction, bacteria, and occlusive clothing, all of which can lead to clogged pores and subsequent breakouts. However, other underlying factors can contribute to acne formation:

- Genetic predisposition: Your genetic makeup influences various biological pathways related to skin health, which can determine your susceptibility to acne triggered by sweat.

Hormonal fluctuations: Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can result in increased sebum production and alterations in the skin’s microbiome, potentially causing more acne.

- Wearing clothing with non-breathable materials: Staying in sweaty workout clothes for extended periods creates an optimal environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive, potentially leading to skin rash and breakouts.

How Do You Prevent Sweat Pimples?

Preventing sweat pimples involves proactive skincare measures before, during, and after exercise. Here are a few tips to consider at each point of your exercise journey:

Before Excercise:

- Cleanse your skin: Use a gentle cleanser or wipe to remove makeup, dirt, oil, and bacteria before starting your workout. This helps prevent the accumulation of impurities that can clog pores during exercise.

- Apply moisturizer: Use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to hydrate your skin without clogging pores. Also if you are going to be outside opt for an oil-free sunscreen. OffCourt’s lightweight facial hydrator instantly absorbs into the skin to soothe, cool, and hydrate, leaving no greasy residue, even after intense workouts.

Light-Weight Facial Hydrator


- Wear breathable clothing: Opt for activewear made with moisture-wicking fabrics to help keep skin dry and minimize friction. Looser, airier fits will reduce the amount of rubbing against your skin. Also, cotton clothes are an excellent option because they allow airflow between the fabric and your skin while synthetic materials often trap heat.

During Excercise:

- Use a clean towel: Carry a clean towel with you to dry sweat during your workout. Avoid wiping or rubbing the towel vigorously, as this can irritate your skin and spread bacteria. Gently patting your skin helps absorb excess sweat without causing friction.

- Avoid touching your face: Try not to touch your face during exercise to minimize the transfer of bacteria and oils from your hands to your face, which can exacerbate acne breakouts and increase the risk of developing sweat pimples.

- Wipe off shared exercise equipment: At the gym using a communal mat or machine? Make sure to wipe it down before use to avoid getting in touch with acne-provoking bacteria.

After Excercise:

- Shower ASAP: Take a shower or rinse off immediately after exercising to remove sweat, dirt, and acne-causing bacteria from your skin, paying special attention to areas prone to sweat accumulation.It’s vital to make sure you fully clean out your pores to remove the gunk that sweat brings to the surface. For a daily-use body wash that’s sulfate-free and gentle, try OffCourt’s Deep Cleansing Body Wash, which is formulated with lactic and glycolic acids. This body wash is perfect as it won’t strip your skin of its essential oils and nutrients while keeping your skin hydrated and smooth.

Or, for something a bit more heavy-duty, opt for our Exfoliating Body Soap, which features a medium-grit texture that’s ideal for a deeper scrub that is still gentle for daily use. Shea butter, olive oil, and sunflower seed extract hydrate and soothe your squeaky-clean skin.

Deep Cleansing Body Wash Trio Pack


- Change into clean clothes: Swap out your sweaty workout clothes for clean, dry clothes as soon as possible to prevent bacterial buildup and friction on your skin. Avoid staying in damp clothing for an extended period of time, as this can contribute to the development of sweat pimples on legs and other body parts.

- Apply acne treatment: If you have oily skin and are prone to heat pimples, using products specially formulated for acne, containing ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, might be beneficial. These ingredients help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and prevent breakouts. It's always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist to determine which product is best suited for your skin type.

How Do You Treat Sweat Pimples?

If your acne only appears after excessive sweating, it will probably go away on its own. However, if it persists and you just want to learn how to get rid of sweat pimples, you should consider the following tips:

- Gently wash (not scrub) the area twice a day.

- Use noncomedogenic, non-acnegenic, oil-free products.

- Resist touching or picking.

- Consult a Dermatologist and evaluate the use of acne medication.

- Wash frequently clothing, sheets, or pillowcases that touch your acne-prone skin.

Final Thoughts

Sweat pimples are a frequent condition for those who exercise and sweat regularly. By understanding the causes of sweat pimples and implementing effective strategies, you can maintain clear, healthy skin. Gentle cleansing practices, wearing suitable workout attire, and using skincare products suited to your skin type can all help reduce the impact of sweat on your skin.. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle while safeguarding your skin health.

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