Excess sweating, steroid use, and nutritional deficiencies can all wreak havoc on a bodybuilder’s skin. From acne, eczema, stretch marks, to dry and brittle skin, bodybuilders have to deal with more than their fair share of skin issues. And while acne is the most common skin problem seen in bodybuilders, dry skin is also fairly common. The problem with dry skin is that it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint what exactly is causing this annoying skin issue. Is it your hygiene routine, is it hormonal, or maybe you lack some key nutrients but you don’t know which ones? Well, knowing what is at the root of your dry, flaky, and an itchy skin will also help you determine how you should treat your skin issues. Now, with that being said, here’s how I’ve dealt with dry skin in the past and how I’ve successfully avoided it later in my training career.
First things first – why we get dry skin
Dry skin is known in the medical community as xerosis, and it can affect any skin type, age, and gender. According to an entry in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, dry skin can be triggered by external and internal factors. External factors include your lifestyle, the climate you live in, and your skin care habits. Internal factors that can cause your skin to feel dry include hormonal fluctuations and illness. These factors may cause your skin to lose moisture which leads to cracking and peeling characteristic of dry skin. When bodybuilders get dry skin, it is usually a result of a poor skincare routine or nutritional deficiency. Many bodybuilders will develop dry skin before a competition. Some develop the problem due to excessive tanning which will also inevitably dry out the skin. Others may develop skin problems because they don’t eat properly before a competition, because they use diuretics which will also cause skin dehydration, or because steroid use aggravates their already existing skin issues. But whatever the cause of dry skin, there is a solution.
How to treat dry skin caused by poor skincare habits
So, most bodybuilders don’t focus all that much on their skin as they do on gains and reps. Unfortunately, neglecting the health of your skin won’t get you ahead of the game. And while prevention is always better than cure, there are also things you can do when the damage is already done. Start off by removing habits that may be contributing to your dry skin issues. First, avoid taking hot showers. Hot water strips your skin of its protective oil layer which will inevitably lead to skin dryness. Instead, when showering, make sure the water is lukewarm. Also, take a good look at your cleansing products. If they contain soap, throw them in the trash and get some gentle cleansers, preferably those containing emollients and ceramides. Ceramides are fatty molecules naturally present in the skin and that keep it from drying out. Studies on ceramide-containing skin care products show that they work well even for severe skin dryness, like in the case of eczema. Make sure to avoid using cleansers excessively, especially in the groin area as this can cause dry penis skin as well. Once you get out of the shower, use moisturizing lotions, especially when your skin feels drier than normal.
Treating dry skin caused by a poor diet
Dry skin is often a symptom of nutritional deficiencies which can happen to bodybuilders who improvise their diets. If your diet is insufficient in protein, healthy fats, and vitamin A, chances are you’ll develop dry and flaky skin among other things. Other nutrients important for your skin health include vitamin C, B vitamins, zinc, and vitamin D. If your diet is missing any of these, be prepared for itchy, dry, and flaky skin. To see if nutritional deficiencies are behind our skin issues, you could ask your doctor to get you tested for nutrient deficiencies. Otherwise, you can start supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals. Some companies even offer supplements containing skin-benefiting nutrients. Also, make sure that you’re getting enough protein and healthy fat. These two nutrients are holy grails in a bodybuilder’s diet and you cannot risk not getting enough.
Other causes of dry skin and how to treat them
Dry skin can also happen if you tan too much which many bodybuilders tend to do before a big competition. If you really want to tan instead of using spray tan, then make sure to use moisturizing lotions generously after tanning. Certain medical and skin conditions can also cause dry skin so you need to take that into account. If your skin feels itchy, bumpy, and develops a rash, make sure to check with a dermatologist to see if you’re experiencing a skin disorder such as eczema, dermatitis, balanitis, and others. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that can cause dry and red skin in the face. Hormonal problems caused by disorders such as hypothyroidism can also lead to dry skin. The only way to find out if you have an underlying medical condition that is behind your dry skin is through screening.
Most bodybuilders taking steroids will experience skin issues such as excessive skin oiliness and acne. But sometimes, bodybuilders will develop the exact opposite problem – dry and flaky skin. Dry skin can be particularly annoying because it’s hard to determine what exactly is causing your face and body skin to feel like sandpaper. However, if you develop a dry skin on your penis, then the issue could be due to excessive use of cleansers, hot water, and even from sex and masturbation in rare cases.