body acne

10 Ways to Handle Body Acne On Your Back

For most teenagers, they suffer from terrible back breakouts as part of body acne. Of course, the occasional breakout on their face and around the hairline or cheeks was also very common, but for some teens, most breakouts appear on their back. To make matters worse, it can be primarily cystic—the hard, sore, underground bumps that take weeks to go away. 

While a visit to a dermatologist is an option, although they will most likely give an oral antibiotic and topical benzoyl peroxide to use. The combination is known to help lessen the breakouts, but what teens can also expect is being left with dry, itchy skin and bleached clothing from the peroxide. 

Body acne, whether it be on the back, neck, or chest, can be frustrating to address. The good news is that we’ve come a long way from relying on antibiotics and harsh, drying topical creams. In this post, we’ll be going over you how you can try to get it under control and how to be in control of your body acne!

What Exactly Is Body Acne?

Body acne is fundamentally the same as that which develops on the face, but it can be challenging to address since it often covers a larger surface area on the body (not to mention it’s often located in hard-to-reach spots). It occurs as a result of overactive oil glands combined with blocked pores caused by dead skin cells that aren’t being shed. These factors create an environment in which “bad” bacteria can thrive and cause those red, inflamed bumps we know all too well.

It normally develops on the back and chest, because the skin is thicker, and both areas have an abundance of sebaceous glands that produce oil. It can also sometimes be found on the arms, but it’s generally not found on the lower body. When it comes to back and chest breakouts specifically, you’ll likely see either larger pustules, which are inflamed red spots with a “whitehead,” or cysts, which are often painful bumps that form deep under the skin and never come to a head. It’s important to refrain from picking at cystic blemishes since the body usually reabsorbs them from within. Picking won’t make the blemish go away any faster and could result in long-lasting damage to the skin in the form of hyperpigmentation, also known as post-breakout scars. 

What Are Possible Causes of Body Acne?

As is the case with most acne, the biggest trigger for body acne is hormones. Stress can also be a trigger since it encourages the production of androgens—a group of hormones that can stimulate oil production. Breakouts on the back and chest can also be caused by tight-fitting clothing, especially when that clothing is worn during sweaty workouts. The same goes for athletic equipment such as football pads (this is especially common in teens).

How Can I Get Rid of Back Acne?

Here are some great tips for getting body breakouts under control.

  1. Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothing  

Body acne can’t always be completely avoided, but it’s still a good idea to break habits that could be contributing to it. Tight-fitting clothing, particularly tight-fitting workout gear, could be a trigger. Clothes that trap heat and moisture against the body for prolonged periods of time and/or create friction should be avoided. Opt for loose-fitting clothes instead.

2. Clean Your Bedsheets Weekly

When you’re struggling with breakouts on their face, try to be diligent about changing your pillowcases to avoid reintroducing oil, dirt, and bacteria to the skin. The same concept applies to the body. Regularly cleaning your sheets may minimize oil buildup.

3. Opt For Sun-Protective Clothing

Sunscreen is important, but it’s also tricky since so many formulas are notorious for exacerbating breakouts. This is especially true for waterproof formulas that are applied to the back and body. That’s why it’s recommended to opt for sun-protective clothing if possible. This will protect sensitive areas, like your chest and back, from the sun. Be sure to choose clothing with a UPF rating (which is essentially SPF for clothing).

4. Check Your Hair Conditioner for Panthenol

For back breakouts, it could be caused by an ingredient in your conditioner called panthenol (vitamin B5). Using conditioner after shampooing, the residue that is left on your back can apparently cause a big issue for creating body acne. So, try to find a conditioner that doesn’t contain panthenol (which may not be easy to find, by the way) and your breakouts can literally vanish. While this certainly may not be the cause of everyone’s body acne, it’s worth considering.

This can be the case for some but not all with panthenol (and anecdotal evidence is never one to be discounted!), however, some research has shown that it could actually benefit blemish-prone skin by helping to reduce acne lesions and scars. If you struggle with back breakouts, try using a conditioner without panthenol to see if it has an effect. If it does you can assume it’s a trigger. If it doesn’t, then you can assume it’s not a trigger.

On that note, it’s important to know that panthenol should not cause breakouts when used in skin care products, since the percentage at which it’s included is so low. It’s an excellent moisturizing ingredient. It only seems to become an issue for some people when it’s used in high concentrations in hair products.

5. Shower Often

People who are prone to body acne are those who produce excessive oil, and generally speaking, those who have oily skin on their face will also have oily skin on their back and chests. Since oil is a breeding ground for bacteria, one of the ways to reduce breakouts is to shower often—as often as twice a day if it’s hot out. Trust me, keeping the skin clean can make a huge difference.

It’s also recommended showering as soon as possible after working out. While sweat doesn’t technically cause acne, it can disrupt the normal flow of oil within the pore. If you can’t shower immediately after working out, apply a cleanser to a damp washcloth and wipe it over the affected area.

6. Use a Pore-Clearing Cleanser

Every time you shower, usr a pore-clearing cleanser to clean the skin, remove oils, and reduce the number of “bad” surface bacteria that are present. It can be difficult to find a body cleanser that fits the bill, so using a facial cleanser is an option instead. Look for one that’s formulated for blemish-prone skin types, is sulfate-free, and uses salicylic acid. The goal is to clean the skin and pores without drying them out.

7. Be Sure to Exfoliate

Dead skin cells can clog pores, so it’s crucial to gently remove buildup by exfoliating every time you shower. If back breakouts are your concern, it can be hard to reach certain areas. A simple solution is to apply your cleanser directly to a loofah or cloth. This physical exfoliation will help slough off dead skin cells that have been loosened by exfoliating acids. Just be sure to use light pressure to avoid causing unnecessary redness or sensitivity. 

You can applya salicylic acid serum to the affected area too. This can help reduce the appearance of new breakouts and address discoloration from old breakouts. Apply a salicylic acid serum twice a week, for best results.

8. Apply a Spot Treatment When Necessary

Body acne tends to be rooted deep in the skin and the infection often won’t come to the surface, so you’ll want to choose a spot treatment carefully. Look for something that doesn’t focus on drying a blemish out. If a blemish is not on the skin’s surface, drying it out will only make matters worse.

Applying a drying spot treatment can only be helpful if you have blemishes that come to a whitehead. If you aren’t having much luck with spot treatments, benzoyl peroxide could be worth a shot. Using it as a spot treatment will prevent unnecessary dryness.

9. Schedule a Back Facial

All of the suggestions given are great to do at home. However, if you’re struggling to see results, schedule an appointment with a professional. Many spas offer back facials, which are designed to clean out clogged pores. In addition to the back facial, an esthetician may offer expert advice based on what they observe with your condition. Botanica Day Spa can help there and pamper you while helping your back breakouts at the same time!

10. Use Medication If Necessary

If you’ve been diligent about caring for your skin in all of the ways I’ve described, including seeking professional help, then it’s time to consult a dermatologist. They may suggest temporary antibiotics or a topical retinoid. There are also medications that can directly address hormonal imbalances that may be causing your body acne.

Give these tips a try and call Botanica to schedule your professional back facial today at 727-447-1711!

Love,

Gen

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