The Latest from How to Maintain Healthy Skincare with Hobbies That Can Irritate Skin

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Everyone has hobbies and activities they do for fun. But do these hobbies pose skin risks? Read on to learn more.

Hobbies are — often quite literally — fun and games. Some offer physical health benefits, while others promote creativity and expression. Whatever hobbies a person enjoys, it’s important to be aware of possible skin concerns and discover how to keep skin safe.'s latest article, "Potentially Risky Hobbies for Skin," explains how to maintain healthy skincare during activities that can irritate the skin.

Working out at the gym

Why it can be risky:

  •     Bacterial or fungal infections. Germs can survive on mats, weights, equipment, exercise machines and sweaty clothes. When these harmful organisms enter the body through cuts or openings, infection can result.
  •     Dehydration. Indoor air is often dry, because it’s heated in the winter or air-conditioned in the summer. Dry air zaps skin’s moisture. If dehydration sets in, a person’s complexion may take on an unhealthy color and develop dryness or flaking.

How to protect skin:

  •     Clean off equipment.
  •     Stay hydrated.
  •     Shower and change ASAP.

Playing outdoor sports

Why it can be risky:

  •     UV damage. The sun’s harmful UV rays are linked with painful sunburns and unattractive signs of aging, like lines, wrinkles, dryness, sagging and spots. UV exposure also significantly increases a person’s risk for skin cancer.
  •     Heat rash. If pores become clogged, they can’t release perspiration to cool off, and sweat becomes trapped under the skin. This can result in heat rash, which shows up as clusters of itchy red spots or bumps.
  •     Acne.

How to protect skin:

  •     Apply sunscreen.
  •     Dress in loose, lightweight clothing.
  •     Cleanse face.


Why it can be risky:

  •     Dryness. Pools are loaded with chlorine to kill germs and keep the water clean. Unfortunately, chlorine has a major drying effect on skin.

How to protect skin:

  •     Shower right away.
  •     Moisturize.

Hiking and camping

Why they can be risky:

  •     Poison ivy and poison oak. These plants contain sticky oil called urushiol. It sticks to almost anything — including clothing, camping gear and pet fur — and then irritates skin upon contact. A person’s body launches an immune response against urushiol, with symptoms such as rash, itchiness, swelling and blisters. These can take hours or even days to show up after skin has absorbed the oil.
  •     Bug bites.
  •     UV damage.

How to protect skin:

  •     Don long sleeves and long pants.
  •     Use ivy blocker or insect repellant.
  •     Keep bug bites and rashes clean.
  •     Try not to itch.
  •     Remember sunblock!


Why it can be risky:

  •     UV damage. Especially for gardeners, hands are prone to UV damage. UV rays break down collagen and elastin — proteins that give skin its structure — and dry out skin. Loss of collagen, elastin and moisture can lead to wrinkled hands. In addition, UV rays stimulate melanocyte cells to produce melanin pigment, resulting in brown or black age spots on hands.
  •     Bug bites.
  •     Irritation from gardening chemicals.

How to protect skin:

  •     Use sun smarts.
  •     Spray on insect repellant and ivy blocker.
  •     Invest in gardening gloves.
  •     Slather on protective hand moisturizers.
  •     Go organic. Skip pesticides and chemicals in the garden to minimize skin irritation and other risks.


Why it can be risky:

  •     Calluses. Rough, tough, hardened, thick skin can build up on the bottoms of feet from repeated contact with hard floors. Most people slough off their calluses; dancers, however, often opt to keep them, because calluses offer some foot protection. Unfortunately, they can tear or rip, causing infection.
  •     Warts. Common in dancers, warts are caused by virus organisms that live on floors. These flat, cauliflower-like spots are painful when pinched.

How to protect skin:

  •     Care for calluses. Instead of cutting calluses all the way down, prevent them from splitting or tearing by using a lanolin moisturizer twice a day. If calluses do tear, gently wash them with warm water and soap. Keep them covered with bandages to prevent infection.
  •     Treat warts. Topical treatments may help foot warts. Dancers can also cover them with tape or foam doughnuts.

Playing musical instruments

Why it can be risky:

  •     Contact dermatitis. Musicians can be sensitive or allergic to metals — like nickel and chromium — or woods — like rosewood and ebony — found in instruments. Polishes, cleaners or rosins are other culprits. These can cause contact dermatitis symptoms, such as rashes, breakouts, eczema and irritation, along lips, chins, fingers or any skin that comes in contact with the instrument.
  •     Rubbing or chafing from the instrument. Depending on what a person plays and where or how the instrument is held, it can rub against certain areas, causing irritation, reddening, thickening and bumps. Examples are “fiddler’s neck,” “guitarist’s nipple,” “cellist’s chest” and “flautist’s chin.”
  •     Blisters or calluses.
  •     Chapped lips and cold sores.
  •     Acne and ingrown hairs. Violinists and violists can develop cysts and pimples along their chins, necks and faces. Acne results from the oil and bacteria, which build up on the instrument’s plastic chin rest. Similarly, oil and bacteria can inflame hair follicles and cause ingrown facial hairs.

How to protect skin:

  •     Try a different material. Allergic to a certain wood or metal? Test an instrument, reed, mouthpiece, cleaner or other accessory made of a different variety.
  •     Use proper technique. Musicians should be sure that they’re using the correct size instrument for their bodies and holding it properly to avoid rubbing, chafing and irritation.
  •     Limit practice session lengths and gradually build up. This helps fingers get used to the instrument — particularly for string players — and can minimize skin blisters and nail damage.
  •     Keep instrument clean. This prevents acne-causing bacteria and oil from building up. String players may want to place a fresh, clean cloth over the chin rest each time they play to avoid transferring both oil and bacteria onto their skin.
  •     Treat pores.
  •     Moisturize lips.


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Bobby Lyons

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