Pimples And Poor Toenails: Two Dermatological Issues That Runners Face

If you are a runner, you are well-aware of your heightened risk of developing skin cancer. Even though this is the most lethal dermatology risk that runners face, it is not the only dermatological issue that your sport presents. As a runner, you are also more likely to suffer from acne and toenail problems and may need to consult a dermatologist if you come across various problems related to running:


About 85% of Americans will, at some point in their lives, struggle with some form of acne. Three of the most common types of acne that runners experience are whiteheads, blackheads, and back acne.

  • Whiteheads: When oils clog your skin follicles, white bumps develop and clog your pores.
  • Blackheads: Like whiteheads, blackheads develop when your body's natural oils clog your pores. Unlike whiteheads, the oils and your skin's melatonin are exposed to the air and, as a result, the pimples are darker in color.
  • Back Acne: Athletes frequently complain about "bacne," or breakouts on the back. These usually develop when sweat and heat combine and then irritate your back's skin cells through friction.

If you are a runner, you can fight back against acne by making a few adjustments.

  • Blot, Don't Wipe: Instead of wiping off sweat, blot it; this causes less friction and less skin irritation.
  • Remove Oils as Soon as Possible: After your run, take a shower as soon as possible. The faster you remove the sweat and oils from your skin, the less likely these oils will penetrate into your pores and develop into acne. The same is true for your sweaty clothes.
  • Wear the Right Clothing: Many runners simply slip on a comfortable cotton t-shirt for their runs, but this material does nothing to fight sweat and oils. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics instead, which remove excess sweat and abrasive salts from your body.

Nail Problems

Runners, especially long-distance runners, are not known for their beautiful toenails. Just because you run, however, does not mean that you have to forever cover your dogs in public.

  • Nail Fungus: Runners are highly susceptible to nail fungal infections because sweaty socks and shoes lacking ventilation provide prime breeding grounds for this fungi. Cutting your toenails too short can also increase your chances of developing a toenail infection.
  • Black Toenails: In the running community, black toenails are a sign of hard work and many miles, but your non-running peers will probably find these gems disgusting. Black toenails develop when pressure, heat, moisture, and friction all combine; the blood capillaries beneath your toenail break from this combination and the fluid that results discolors the nail. After time, the toenail falls off. If you are a hard-core runner, black toenails are inevitable, but you can minimize their frequency by purchasing shoes that are a half size larger than you would normally wear. Choose moisture-wicking socks, as well.