How to treat body acne
What is it?
Body acne can occur anywhere on your body that has pores and most commonly pops up on the back (bacne), chest, neck, shoulders, and upper arms. Those with oily or acne-prone skin, are more likely to experience body acne, but other factors can cause breakouts in less oily individuals too. Like facial acne, body acne can be very annoying and painful, but you can also get rid of it with consistent treatment use!
For most people, body acne forms in the same way that acne forms on your face. The excess production of sebum combines with the improper shedding of dead skin cells, which leads to clogged pores. The acne-causing bacteria, C. acnes, thrives in the low-oxygen environment in clogged pores, causing your body’s immune system to respond. This response results in the redness, inflammation, and pain commonly associated with acne (you know, the fun stuff).
Body acne can also occur when excessive heat, pressure, friction, or rubbing happens on the skin, which is typical of athletes and students carrying heavy backpacks. Anyone can experience this type of acne, though. Items that cause friction on the skin like athletic equipment, bra straps, bags, and hats can trap sweat, dirt, and oil in pores leading to breakouts. Acne Mechanica usually starts as small bumps, resembling a rash, and then develops into more inflamed pimples.
How do we stop it?
Use an exfoliating body wash (but gently)
Like treating acne on your face, it’s essential to cleanse your skin with a gentle body wash regularly. Harsh body washes will dry out and irritate your skin, worsening blemishes. Look for a body wash that also contains an exfoliating ingredient like salicylic acid. Check out some of our favorites below:
- 1. Neutrogena Body Clear Pink Grapefruit Body Wash – around $6
This wash contains salicylic acid, vitamin C, and grapefruit extract to unclog pores and keep your skin smelling fresh.
- 2. CeraVe SA Body Wash for Rough & Bumpy Skin - $12.99
This wash is formulated with salicylic acid to open pores and cerimdes to restore the skin barrier.
Shower quickly following a workout
It’s hard to avoid wearing sweaty, non-breathable equipment if you’re an athlete, so following an intense sweat session, shower ASAP. Showering with an exfoliating body wash will remove all the dirt, sweat, and oil on your skin before they can clog up your pores.
Avoid synthetic fabrics
One way to avoid breakouts that are related to acne mechanica is to wear natural, breathable fabrics like loose-fitting cotton. If you’re an athlete and cannot avoid wearing athletic equipment, try wearing a natural cotton shirt below your equipment to help reduce friction on the skin.
Visit a dermatologist
If you do not see any improvements after 4-6 weeks of consistent treatment use, then it's time to see a dermatologist. They can put together a treatment plan for you and prescribe stronger medications than you can get over-the-counter. It's also important to remember that you are not alone, and may people have body acne. So, if you want to wear that off-the-shoulder top or cute new bikini on the beach, we say do it!