Acne most commonly develops on the face, but the skin condition can appear on any area of the body that can get oily. Pimples and blackheads can show up on your chest or back, for example, or even on your upper arms or neck. Breakouts can cause discomfort and embarrassment; they can also leave red marks and long-lasting scars, especially if left untreated or treated incorrectly. Dermatologists use scientifically-proven approaches to address body acne – you can incorporate some of these dermatologist-approved body acne treatments into your daily routine.
You may be able to see clearer skin using dermatologist-approved ways to get rid of body acne if you have just a few blemishes on your back or elsewhere or have developed body acne recently. Home treatment may work in cases of moderate body acne; you may need a dermatologist’s help if your body acne is painful or deep within your skin.
What Causes Body Acne
Acne can develop as the result of clogged pores. A pore is a tiny opening that leads to a follicle, or canal. The follicle contains a hair and a sebaceous gland, which produces an oily substance known as sebum that lubricates your skin and hair.
Acne can develop when sebum combines with dead skin cells to plug your pores. Plugged pores cannot release the sebum produced by the sebaceous gland; the pressure of accumulated sebum can cause the follicle wall to bulge and produce a whitehead. Bacteria can mix with oil to cause further problems. Exposure to air can cause the bacteria and oil the turn brown, for example, creating the appearance of a blackhead.
Bacteria near the affected area can trigger inflammation and infection, which can lead to even more severe acne. Blockages and inflammation deep within the follicles produce cyst-like lumps beneath the surface of your skin.
Certain things may trigger or worsen acne, both on your face and on other parts of your body. Hormonal changes, such as the increase in androgens in boys and girls during puberty or hormone changes during midlife, can cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum. Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, testosterone, and lithium, can cause breakouts. Diet and stress may also play a role.
Acne treatments focus on controlling the four factors that cause breakouts: excess oil, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation.
How to Get Rid of Body Acne
Showering regularly helps remove the bacteria, dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum that block your pores. For best results, wash your skin in lukewarm – not hot – water, and then rinse in cold water to help close your pores.
Avoid harsh skincare products
Antibacterial soaps, abrasive scrubs, and astringents, can worsen body acne, as can loofahs and back brushes. Instead, use gentle, fragrance-free products.
Use body wash containing salicylic acid
Salicylic acid unclogs blocked pores by breaking up oils and dead skin cells. The organic compound also acts as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent.
Exfoliating helps remove dead skin cells before they can clog your pores – it will also make your skin noticeably smoother. Avoid exfoliating your skin more than once a week, though, as it may irritate pre-existing acne blemishes.
Use a body lotion that won’t block your pores
Dermatologists recommend using a non-comedogenic body lotion, which is a product that does not clog your pores. Some non-comedogenic body lotions contain salicylic acid.
Try a spot treatment
Apply a dab of spot treatment, which delivers acne-fighting medication directly to the blemish. Over-the-counter (OTC) spot treatments typically contain either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which kills bacteria under the skin.
Apply a topical retinoid
Prescription and over-the-counter retinoids help unclog pores; retinoids can also help skin repair itself to reduce inflammation and irritation associated with body acne.
Shower and change clothes after a workout
Perspiration combine with bacteria on your skin and can clog your pores. Athletic gear and clothing can irritate your sweaty skin – they can also harbor sweat, oil, and dirt to cause further irritation.
Change your laundry soap and/or softener
Laundry soap removes bacteria from your clothing, which can help prevent body acne, but laundry soap and softeners can include fragrances and dyes that can irritate your skin. Switch your existing laundry soap and softeners out for products labeled as “hypoallergenic.”
Wear loose clothing made with breathable fabrics
Tight clothing can trap dirt, bacteria, and oils against your skin to cause body acne. Certain fabrics, such as wool, nylon, and spandex, can irritate your skin. Cotton clothing allows your skin to breathe.
Avoid anything that rubs against the affected area
Avoid wearing a backpack if you have acne on your back, for example.
Without enough water, dehydrated skin cells can accumulate on the surface of your skin. These parched cells can also retain oil.
Resist the urge to pop, squeeze, or scrub pimples
Squeezing pimples can push bacteria deeper into your skin, which can worsen body acne. Popping your pimples may also lead to scabs that leave permanent scars or pits in your skin.
Visit your dermatologist
If home remedies do not get rid of your body acne, consult with your dermatologist at Center for Dermatology & Laser Surgery. Our team of dermatologists and dermatology professionals can help you determine the underlying causes of your body acne, and create a personalized treatment plan to help you get clearer skin.