Have you cleared up the acne on your face only to have zits pop up across your chest and back? Or maybe you've always had body acne. It’s frustrating and tempting to pop them, right?
What Body Acne Is
Acne is one of the skin disorders causing outbreaks of skin lesions known as pimples. These lesions can occur mostly in every area of our body, including the face, neck, back, chest and even shoulders. It is also one of the most common diseases which can lead to disfiguring and permanent scarring, just like any skin condition does.
Body acne is generally confined at the back and upper half of the body as they have more sebaceous glands than do any other body parts, making the follicles more likely to become plugged with excess oil and dead skin cells. Body acne can happen to anyone, both teens and adults.
Body acne shares several similarities with facial acne in a sense that they are driven by overactive oil glands, delayed sloughing of dead skin cells and colonized by P acnes bacteria. The only thing different between body acne and facial acne is that the acne like bumps that form or develop on our body are more often from folliculitis.
Body acne can be debilitating and embarrassing as we cannot confidently wear the dresses we want or even soak under the sun on a beach for a long period of time. Body acne is actually much more common than most people know, but the common treatments for face acne usually won’t work on the body, as the skin is different as well as the acne. That doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of body acne, it just means that you have to use the right treatments—or make the right changes in personal care habits—for your particular type of body acne.
What Causes Back Acne?
For us to treat body acne, we have to identify with what causes it to develop on our skin. There are at least 2 causes (or types) of body acne:
Sports acne (sometimes called acne mechanica) can appear almost anywhere on the body, but it usually shows up on the chest and the back, sometimes around the forehead if you wear headbands, hats or helmets, and it can even develop on the face and neck if you wear straps or face masks.
Certain clothing articles, sports gear or equipment may also cause our body acne breakouts. Or it may also be from rubbing or too much pressure on our skin that’s combined with heat or sweat, leading to irritation and inflammation of follicles.
Obviously for this case, the best way to prevent sports acne is to:
ensure your clothing is loosely fitting
wear breathable fabrics
shower soon after vigorous exercise
wash bras/sports brasfrequently(at least after every second use! Bras can easily harbour bacteria, and even though we are inclined to wear our bras for extended periods of time, we should take special care to hand wash them and lay them flat to dry).
Another cause of body acne can be possibly caused by high levels of androgen hormones. Hormonal acne can be seen in people taking steroids or even in people with severe hormonal imbalance. Women who suffer from PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) are also likely to have this type of body acne.
Common treatments for this are hormonal therapy, such as androgen blockers, or birth control pills. Hormonal imbalances like these often need rigorous treatment.
Some other treatment options for your body acne include:
sea salt baths (soak in a warm salt bath for 15 minutes a couple times a week)
don't shower in extremely hot water as this can damage your skin's moisture barrier and ability to heal and fight off microorganisms
for back acne, try a different shampoo/conditioner (they can rinse down your back and be comedogenic); this is especially true if you are also experiencing acne around your hairline and on your scalp
benzoyl peroxide lotions
apple cider vinegar spray
witch hazel or tea tree oil spray
exfoliation (with a mitt or a scrub containing AHAs or BHAs*)
look at your detergent and/or fabric softener; whether you've been using the product for a long time or not, sometimes a simple formula change can irritate the skin
Sometimes, body acne can be mistaken for allergies (such as dust mites), dermatitis or even folliculitis so it’s best to consult with your dermatologist in case you’re having persistent acne.
How To Treat Body Acne?
Now that we’ve identified the causes of body acne, here are some tips on how to combat them:
Treat body acne like face acne
Change body wash
Change sheets more frequently
Use a body brush
Use masks on your back
1. TREAT BODY ACNE LIKE FACE ACNE
Your body acne is just like the one on your face and once you start treating them like that, you can see the change. It may not be as bad as it can be.
Treating your body acne as if it’s your face acne is important since they are just the same. They may be due to the sweat and bacteria that’s clogged in your pores or it could be hormonal.
Our acne may be kind of a mixture of both body acne and face acne but probably, it’s more of body acne for several reasons. Once we start treating our body acne like face acne, we will see changes in everything about our body acne. We treat our body acne with kindness and respect by pampering it the same way we do with our face acne.
2. CHANGE BODY WASH
Like choosing a cleanser for your facial acne, using the right cleanser for your body is key to targeting aggressive bacne. Using things like shower gels may make you smell nice, but they don't really do much else. Instead, use medicated products that can kill yeast or bacteria and unclog pores. Some key elements to look for are pyrithinone zinc, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur.
Do not just use any acne scrubbing body wash products, especially if they contain ingredients which are too harsh for your body. If you wanted to have smooth, calm and clean skin, go for those brands that have natural ingredients for your skin and those that will surely take off the bacteria from any sweating and oil.
If you’re the type of person who wants to make sure that your skin is squeaky clean, you can go for the ones with scrubbies that look like little beads or simply just a plain body wash. You may also use an exfoliating kind of body wash once or twice a week, but it is still best to have a regular wash every day.
3. CHANGE SHEETS MORE FREQUENTLY
Another thing that helps get rid of body acne is changing your sheets more frequently, both bed and pillow.
Washing and changing your bed and pillow sheets more often can help combat those troublesome back acnes. Make sure that the fabric you are leaning your skin against when heading to bed is clean and fresh, free of the bacteria that was left from the previous nights.
There is no harm at all in washing or changing those sheets every now and then, especially when it helps clear up your back acne. Make it a habit in doing this routine.
4. USE A BODY BRUSH
Instead of the regular loofah, you use when taking a shower to scrub your back, why not go for a body brush with either bristles or loofah on it?
With a body brush, you can reach for the unreachable part of your body which is the back and its whole part (middle back and lower back). Buying a body brush can be helpful as it rinses off the part you wanted to reach and make you extra clean. Our skin can become clogged with dead skin cells, sebum and other things, exfoliation is important.
Body brushes can be your best friend when taking care of your back acne as it may feel like you are given a back massage. It can also show improvements on your back acne.
You may find or buy body brushes on any shop that sells those kinds of brushes with bristles or loofah, just as long as they are friendly to use on your body.
5. USE MASKS ON YOUR BACK
The last but definitely not the least, you can combat your back acne by applying masks on your back. It may sound silly for you, but applying masks on your back can help you prevent those acne scars from coming back or occurring.
As mentioned earlier in the first tip, you can take care of your body acne the way you take care of your face acne. You can even either moisturize, tone or apply the mask on your back.
One of the recommended products to treat your back acne with is the Banish Charcoal Masque. You can either use it as a spot treatment or just apply it on your shoulders, arms or even your chest. Sounds crazy, but you may even also apply some of it on your arm pits in order to detoxify your skin.
What the Activated Charcoal Clay Mask does is that it helps rid of all the impurities out and diminish acne scars. It can also help calm and smoothen your acne as well, most especially your back acne.
Applying the mask on your back helps keep your acne from getting irritated and make your acne go away faster in the long run. Aside from all this, mask application makes your back look more moisturized.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’re treating your back acne with the same kindness and respect that you are treating your face acne by pampering it? Using a nice lotion may also help.
This may be a good opportunity for you to start taking care of your body skin the way you would treat your facial skin so that you may enjoy your summer and wear dresses without even having to worry about those blemishes appearing on your back.
Aside from these tips given, there are also other ways on how you can get rid of body acne:
Take A Shower Immediately After Working Out
Getting a lot of sweat from working out gives you the icky feeling plus the possibility of developing body acne. Wash all those sweats away as soon as possible to help freshen you up for the next activity.
While there's not much evidence to suggest that sweat itself can cause body acne breakouts, there is the possibility, especially if you're dealing with yeast which thrives in warm, moist environments. Regardless, it's good hygiene to shower as soon after exercise/sweating as possible. If this isn't possible, at least try to wipe away the sweat and put on fresh clothes.
Choose The Right Body Moisturizer
There is no need to remove or give up those moisturizers from your routine – just go for the ones which is right for your body or would help alleviate those body acne problems.
Picking your skin can only aggravate your body acne. Go for topical treatments instead to avoid spreading bacteria or getting infections. Treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid gel would do.
Bring Extra Clean Clothes With You
Whether you’re working out at the gym, at a performing arts class or traveling solo flight, carrying clean clothes would help prevent your body acne from getting worse.
Consult Your Dermatologist
If you feel like nothing else works, it’s time to consult your skin specialist who would recommend or prescribe topical treatments or an oral prescription such as Spironolactone or Isotretinoin otherwise known as Roaccutane.
TRY A DIFFERENT APPROACH
If you've tried everything under the sun and nothing seems to work, maybe acne-causing bacteria aren't the issue. Maybe it's a yeast issue. Pityrosporum folliculitis, a yeast, is actually at the root cause for most people with back and body acne. The treatment for yeast acne germs differs from the traditional bacteria acne germs. Instead of anti-bacterial cleansers, anti-fungal and other skin care practices are needed to get rid of this pesky skin issue.
Just like you should spot treat a pimple that erupts on your face, you should also spot treat any pimples that stand out on your body. This is perhaps even more important, since lesions on your body can be quite painful, and can stick around for a very long time. Not to mention, if you have the type of pimples that tend to snag on clothes, open up and get bloody, you're likely to spread the bacteria to the surrounding area and create more pimples. Treating the pimple will help get rid of it a little faster, reducing the risk of bacteria spreading. You can use benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil - you may need to find the appropriate product for your needs.
WASH YOUR GEAR IN WARM WATER
While all of my exercise gear tells me to hand wash in cold water and not to use the dryer to extend the life of the garment, my body acne cares not for these instructions. When I trialed cold water gentle cycles and hang drying, I got a nice case of Athlete's Foot which then proceeded to Jock Itch. Needless to say, after switching back to gentle warm water cycles and using the dryer on delicate, this problem has been eradicated and my gear is no worse for wear, either.
If you have a local tanning salon with red light therapy machines, it wouldn't hurt to give them a try. While sun exposure can exacerbate acne and skin issues, red light therapy is gentle, safe and has shown to be effective in treating skin conditions like acne.
TRY A SALT SPRAY
Try soaking in a salt bath, or making a simple salt spray to spritz on the area. While this may not be ideal, and may result in some dryness, this can be an effective maintenance approach.
So, those are all the tips on getting rid of body acne. Which one worked best for you?