It’s one thing to have to fight facial acne–something many of us suffer through when we were teens–but it’s always an unexpected, unpleasant surprise to look in the mirror and find pimples on your back, arms, legs or even buttocks. Where do you even begin?
The first thing to remember if you’re suffering from body acne is that it shares a lot in common with facial acne, but has to be handled with a different level of care because it’s more difficult to treat.
“Body acne is the result of sweat mixing with the oil, impurities and bacteria on your skin, causing clogging pores and triggering breakouts,” says board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “The most common areas for these breakouts to appear are on the hairline, chest and back. Made worse by excessive sweating, rubbing of clothing and comedogenic makeup, body acne is a pesky problem for many, but there are easy steps you can take to prevent these pesky pimples.”
Here are 5 tips for dealing with body acne.
1. Shower immediately after your workout. “Bacteria thrive in moist environments,” Schlessinger says. “Even if showering isn’t an option, change out of your exercise clothes as soon as possible. Sweat easily becomes trapped inside tight-knit clothing, leading to body acne, irritation and other problems. If you can shower, wash your body with an antibacterial body wash, focusing on the back, buttocks, and chest areas. I recommend using a body wash like CLn SportWash, which contains bleach to remove acne.”
2. Wash your hands often. Washing your hands will do more than keep germs and illnesses at bay. “We touch thousands of surfaces every day, and that means coming in contact with a lot of germs,” Schlessinger says. “Touching your neck, arms, or back can transfer these bacteria to other parts of your body, causing acne. To avoid spreading germs and bacteria, wash your hands frequently.”
3. Go for an up-do. After your fun night is over, consider tying your hair up to prevent break-outs. “Put your hair up in a ponytail or braid to keep it off your face, neck and back,” Schlessinger says. “This is especially important if you use styling products in your hair as these can transfer to skin and cause breakouts.”
4. Exfoliate. Removing dead skin cells will help prevent clogged pores, which lead to breakouts. “Regular exfoliation and nourishing products should be applied all over the body, including your scalp,” says certified health coach and skin specialist Diana Ralys. “It is important not to use products that are clogging–some people think that the heavier the cream or oil is the more moisturizing it is, but this can be quite the opposite. The thinner the oil the better chance it has of getting deeper in the skin layers to moisturize from the inside out.” Ralys recommends the following products for body acne: Blemish Cleanser, Blemish Toner, Blemish Microfoliant (limited edition with activated charcoal would be best), and Body Nutrients Oil.
5. Visit a dermatologist. If stubborn body acne continues to torture you, the best thing you can do is visit a dermatologist to find out if there’s a condition causing your skin problems. Your doctor can suggest a mild topical treatment like Neutrogena Body Clear® Body Wash if your condition is mild or a strong prescription gel, such as Epiduo®, or Tazorac ®, if it’s serious, says Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy, M.D. of the Miami Skin Institute. “If the back acne or chest acne is severe, I tell the patient to first get a full hormonal blood work done, then based on the results, I will refer them to a gynecologist or endocrinologist if there are any abnormalities. Usually this fixes the problem,” Jegasothy says. “If the patient’s hormonal blood levels are normal, then she probably needs a short course of oral prescription Spironolactone or for severe cases, oral Isotretinoin. Occasionally, some women improve a great deal simply with oral contraceptive. With body acne, the diagnosis can often be tricky, as there are many other conditions that mimic acne on the body. So everyone, men or women alike, should see a board-certified dermatologist for treatment of any and all body acne.”
For more beauty tips, check out 6 Amazing skincare brands you’ve never heard of and 10 At-home remedies to try when zits pop up out of nowhere.