Body Acne: Why it Happens & How to Treat It

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While you are probably accustomed to getting an acne flare-up on occasion, painful body acne can catch us by surprise in unexpected places like the chest, back, or even in the nether regions! To be frank, acne in these areas is often painful, so you want to know how to get rid of body acne fast and with ease.

Woman in Towel Looks Over Her Shoulder to Represent How to Get Rid of Body Acne |

What causes body acne? Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has the answers.

“Sebum is formed in hair follicles where dead skin cells accumulate,” Green said. “This accumulation can often produce comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) as well as bacteria.”

When bacteria overwhelm the skin, it can lead to various kinds of acne and skin conditions, like pustules, papules, nodules or larger cysts, Green explained. It’s common to develop acne in places other than the face, especially among those who work out regularly or live in hot, humid climates.

“There are many reasons why patients develop acne on their chests, backs, groins and buttocks. It could be increased sebum production, clogged pores, bacteria, stress, genetics, certain medications, diets high in sugar and processed foods, hormonal changes, sweat and poor hygiene, which all contribute to acne formation,” Green noted.

Luckily, there are remedies. Here’s how to get rid of body acne and prevent bacteria buildup on the skin.

Acne below the belt

If you’re getting acne around the groin area, it’s likely due to excess moisture for too long after a sweat-provoking activity like a exercise class. Green explained that tight, synthetic clothing and not showering after workouts is a big culprit.

By practicing good hygiene, you can prevent acne. Change out of sweaty underwear and bottoms, and take a shower with antibacterial soap where you’re more prone to acne. Soap with antibacterial properties can both prevent and treat these breakouts.

“Topical antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide gels are two of the best treatments for these types of breakouts,” said Green. “And in severe cases, when topical and oral antibiotics don’t work, Accutane may be needed to permanently treat this type of acne.”

Women also can try laser hair removal in the bikini area, which will reduce buildup of oil and bacteria and prevent groin acne. While the absence of hair can be a good way to reduce your risk, waxing is not recommended since it can irritate the area.

Butt breakouts

You generally will find acne on your cheeks due to folliculitis, caused when bacteria infects the hair follicle. More specifically, folliculitis can be caused by tight clothing, excessive perspiration or sitting in a wet bathing suit too long. After breaking a sweat or taking a swim, be sure to shower and change clothes. If you can’t shower right away, use antibacterial wipes to cleanse before putting on a new set of clothes.

Green said the bumps around the buttocks can be red or painful, and they can even develop into larger cysts, so it’s key to get rid of body acne in a timely manner. Cleanse with the right topical sources, like antibacterial washes, wipes and masks that are compounded with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These two properties are most helpful in acne treatment.

“Never scrub the area or exfoliate roughly,” explained Green. “This can cause acne scarring, which is difficult to treat and can leave behind hyperpigmentation.” Gentle exfoliation with exfoliants containing salicylic acid or lactic acid is key.

Back acne

Acne on the back may be common, but it isn’t wanted! Gentle exfoliation with a loofah can help treat the area. It’s smart to use a to both treat and prevent back acne.

Getting rid of body acne starts with good hygiene and the right products. As with acne in other areas, it’s important to wear loose, breathable fabrics when exercising. As for products, Green recommends topical antibiotics like Cleocin-T and Erythromycin for treating back acne. She also recommends  , which are formulated with salicylic acid and alpha or beta hydroxy acids. Use the pads immediately after exercising to clean and treat the skin.

Tea tree oils are naturally antibacterial and can also help if you’re looking for a more natural approach. In severe cases, talk to your doctor about oral antibiotics or even Accutane.

“And for the summer, choose sunscreens that don’t clog your pores, as this can make back acne flare up,” she said. Similarly, choose oil free, non-greasy formulas for moisturizers. Look for the terms “non-comedogenic” and “oil-free” on the label.

Hormonal acne can also cause back acne in women. In these cases, talk to your doctor about birth control pills or Spirinolactone – which reduces testosterone – to treat and prevent hormonal acne.

In addition, some laundry detergents, makeup products and perfumes have chemicals that can clog pores and cause acne. Consider looking at your products and making cleaner swaps to benefit your skin.

Neck acne

Neck acne also occurs due to excessive sweat, clogged pores and the presence of hair (which can get oily). Many men choose laser hair removal as a long-term solution to treating neck acne, which is often caused by infected and clogged hair follicles.

As with other body acne, you can also treat neck acne with topical antibiotics, drying agents and exfoliating pads and cleansers. Green also recommends removing hair from the nape where oil can contribute to acne breakouts, and shave with quality razors and gentle shaving creams.

How to Get Rid of Body Acne

No matter where the acne appears, the solutions to prevent and treat body acne are clear. Wear loose, breathable clothing when breaking a sweat, practice good hygiene and insert the right products and topical treatments into your daily routine. Goodbye, body acne!

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