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A guide to Runner’s Skin problems

While running is a brilliant source of exercise, an energy booster, and a mood elevator, but there are times when a runner faces a few unavoidable skin problems which may sometimes lead to a certain health situation.

Skin problems are arguably the most reported issues by the runner on a marathon day. At times, the skin problem becomes so severe that it can even cause the runner to abort the marathon.

It is important not to take the skin problems lightly and be prepared with all the necessary remedies on a running day.

Runner Skin Problems

I had briefly touched upon a few skin issues runners faced in one of my previous blogs on marathon lessons learned. This article will be a detailed discussion on different skin problems that occurs during or after the run, along with their causes and the remedies for such challenges.

From Acne to Heat rash and Chaffing to Jogger’s toe, here is the list of frequent skin issue the runner faces:

1. Acne on the body

This problem generally arises due to clothes continuously rubbing against the skin. The friction generated due to the rubbing allows sweat and body salts to block pores and cause infection.


  • acne skin problemAvoid touching your face in sync with your hands while running and clean up all possible infected surfaces with soap or sanitizer after your run.
  • Change your sweaty clothes immediately after running
  • Avoid wearing makeup during running or exercises
  • Opt for an oil-free sunscreen formulated for the face and neck. Use a gel instead of a cream-based sunscreen for the remainder of your body

2. Chafing/Blisters

Chafing is defined as, a superficial inflammatory dermatitis of skin surfaces that rub together and are subjected to increased moisture, friction, and maceration.

Chafing skin problemIn simple words, Chafing is the redness and irritation of skin developed due to sweat and continuous rubbing of your body against the clothing or other skin.

Like Chaffing, Blisters are also a common problem for long-distance runners. The cause of blisters can be friction between your skin and socks/shoes if it’s too tight or loose.


  • Wear tight-fitting clothes and undergarments to avoid extra rubbing of clothes with the skin
  • Apply a skin lubricant Vaseline on the groin, underarms, feet, or anywhere where chafing or blisters can develop.
  • You can also tape your fingers before the run; this will lower the chance of getting the blisters.

3.    Heat Rash

Also referred to as cholinergic urticaria, Heat rashes are small red bumps coupled with a spiky sensation.  It generally happens because of the sudden increase in body temperature during running, most often in hot and humid weather conditions.


  • Skip your run or reduce the workout intensity in case the weather turns out to be unreasonably hot or humid.
  • Take an antihistamine (allergic drug) in case of intense rash sensation.
  • Opt for breathable fabrics such as polyester over cotton during the run

4.    Sun Damage

Prolonged sun exposure from running outdoors can cause sunburn and probably form of skin cancer if not plan and take care of.


  • Use light and oil-free sunscreen before going out for a run.
  • Take a cold shower to cool down your body
  • Use aloe vera based lotions to soothe the burn. 

5.    Runner’s toe

One of the most common injuries that long-distance runners suffer, Runner’s toe also known as subungual hematoma is the collection of blood underneath a toenail or fingernail. Though not serious, could be painful sometimes.

This is caused by constant thrusting of your toe against the front of your shoe, especially with downhill running.


  • Runner's toeTape your fingers before the run.
  • Trim your toenails a day before the run.
  • Use properly fitted footwear with a snug midfoot and adequate toe box
  • Wear breathable and comfy socks. Please avoid wearing cotton socks.
  • Do post-run foot care. Soak the feet in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. This will help soften the skin and is a great way to release toxins from the body. This can be followed by applying a nourishing body lotion

6.    Other Infections

Marathoners often hit the gym to train themselves, to work on their stamina, and to improve their body endurance and muscle power. However, there is a risk of getting skin infections if you’re cross-training in the gym, cause of using the same gym equipment.

These infections mixed with clogged pores and excess sweating is one of the major contributors to athlete’s acne and a variety of other nasty skin infections.


  • Do not forget to take a bath post your gym workout.
  • If possible, disinfect the equipment before use.
  • Try to avoid sweat contacts with others.

Hydration - Skin problemBonus Tip: Keep yourself hydrated. Poor hydration is responsible for the maximum percentage of skin-related illnesses.

As a thumb rule, your body needs on an average 600-700 ml per hour during the run, so fuel it properly before or after run by keeping it hydrated.


Skin problems are commonly reported by the runner on marathon day. Having awareness of the same and taking preventive measures are always useful and effective.

And in case the problem occurs, some knowledge about the same results in a fast diagnosis and a proper treatment.

Also, please take precautions when you are resuming your outdoor runs during Covid-19.

“If you want to change your body, exercise. If you want to change your life, become a runner.”

Thank You

Thank You for reading it through. Please note, the purpose of this post is to only make you aware of the common skin problems runners face before/during/after the run and to take necessary precautions to address them.

Running is beautiful and so is its journey. I have been running for the past 10 years and trust me my life has been changed since then.

And yes, please do show us your love by sharing the post if you find the content informative and useful.


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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Shiva

    This is very helpful blog and I agree to most of the suggestions

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Shiva.

      Keep running, keep inspiring. Cheers.

  2. Jay

    Your passion towards this activity shows clearly in this column. All the best. Nice post.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Jay for your inspiration. This is just a small attempt to motivate more people towards this wonderful world of Running.

      Keep Running, Keep Inspiring. Cheers!!!

  3. Sourabh Sharma

    Very useful information.

    1. therunningmonk

      Thanks a lot Sourabh. Hope this post motivates you to start Running.

      Keep Running. Keep Inspiring. Cheers!!!