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If you suffer from acne, we know how frustrating this can be. Not only faces acne troublesome, but body acne can be embarrassing as well. Thankfully, there are acne treatments to help improve and even eliminate acne once and for all.
What Is Body Acne?
The body acne meaning is quite simple; many people suffer from back and chest acne which is also referred to as folliculitis. It’s also common for people to get whiteheads (pustules) or cysts on their bodies. These pustules aren’t different from the everyday pimple, but cysts may develop underneath the skin and even be painful. Picking at these body breakouts can cause your body to reabsorb the infection from within.
What Causes Body Acne?
Pinpointing where body acne comes from can be difficult as many contributing factors can cause it. It’s also important to note that some studies associate the presence of body acne with specific lifestyle choices.
- The severity of body acne also depends on different factors including:
- Stress levels
- Dietary habits
- Sleeping patterns
- Genetic predisposition
- Drug and alcohol consumption
- Menstrual cycle irregularity
Let’s discuss the specific factors in detail below.
Family history is a major part of what causes body acne. If someone in your family has a history of acne, it can make you more prone to breakouts. Researchers looked at the genomes (the genetic material and all of the sequences) of over 5,000 people who had severe acne and 21,120 people without it. The researchers found 15 different genetic variations in 15 genome regions that people with severe acne all had in common. One underlying factor is the structure of one’s sebaceous glands.
Reproductive hormones (androgens) include testosterone, a hormone present in both males and females. When androgen levels become imbalanced, it can result in skin changes including an increase in oil production, inflammation, and changes in skin cell activity. This imbalance is common during puberty but the fluctuations can result in acne at any age.
Stress and body acne go hand in hand. When your body experiences an influx of stress hormones, it can result in breakouts, intensifying existing breakouts, and a slowing in the healing process. For example, stress triggers the release of cytokines or small proteins that bind to receptors in your body’s sebaceous glands and initiates an inflammatory response. Stress can also impact the immune system, impact your hormones, and impact your sleep and diet.
Did you know that another culprit behind what causes body acne is contact with sports equipment? The technical name for this type of acne is acne mechanica and it occurs when your sweat becomes trapped on your skin due to your workout gear. As the friction and heat build, it results in your skin becoming more irritated. The location of breakouts depends on the equipment that is used. For example, football players may develop acne on their forehead, scalp, chin, and neck while dancers might get it on their backs and chests.
Acne cosmetica is another reason why some people develop body acne. This occurs when hair products clog your pores and cause you to develop acne along your hairline and on the back of your neck. The oils often found in shampoos, conditioners, and styling products often contain silicones and oils that may result in bumps and whiteheads. The best solution is to avoid using the product causing the breakouts.
Other Causes of Body Acne
Body acne may also be caused by excessive sweating or overall poor hygiene. Sweating is a helpful way of clearing your pores, however, the addition of dirt, oils, and dead skin cells can result in body acne. In addition, sun exposure has the potential to cause body acne as it dries your skin out. Your body will naturally respond by producing more oil which further clogs your pores.
Types of Body Acne
Just as there are different types of facial acne, there are different types of body acne: inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. We will discuss the two types in more detail below.
One of the different types of body acne is referred to as noninflammatory acne. Examples include whiteheads and blackheads. These types of breakouts usually don’t result in swelling and they respond well to over-the-counter treatments. One ingredient to look for to treat non-inflammatory acne is salicylic acid; it naturally exfoliates the skin and removes the dead skin cells that may result in whiteheads or blackheads. Look for salicylic acid when shopping for cleansers, toners, and moisturizers.
- Blackheads (open comedones): Occur when a pore becomes clogged from dead skin cells and sebum. The rest of the pore is clogged while the top of the pore stays open, resulting in a black appearance on the surface of the skin.
- Whiteheads (closed comedones): Whiteheads may result from clogged pores, but unlike blackheads, the top of the pore closes. This results in a small bump that appears on the top of the skin.
If you have red and swollen breakouts, they are likely inflammatory acne. Bacteria is the main culprit of inflammatory acne as it can infect the skin deep beneath the surface. As a result, inflammatory acne can be painful and particularly challenging to get rid of.
When shopping for products, look for benzoyl-peroxide to reduce the swelling for inflammatory acne breakouts as it helps target the bacteria. This ingredient is also beneficial in removing excess sebum. It’s common for your doctor to prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to treat this type of persistent acne.
- Papules: These occur when the walls surrounding your pores become severely inflamed and break down, resulting in hard, clogged pores that are pink.
- Pustules: These are similar to papules but they are filled with pus.
- Nodules: Nodules occur due to clogged and swollen pores that grow in size. Nodules are located deeper beneath the skin so it is difficult to treat them at home.
- Cysts: Develop when pores are clogged deep within the skin. They are red or white bumps that are painful to the touch.
Body Acne Treatment
The best way to treat body acne is to invest in the right body acne products that can improve your skin. You’ll want to shop for products that have hydroxy acids including salicylic acid or glycolic acid as they can help exfoliate the skin and treat severe acne. Keep in mind that one ingredient may be more beneficial for your skin type than the other.
#1 Use an Acne-Fighting Body Wash
Consider the body wash that you are using daily and how that could impact your skin. Make sure to find a body wash for acne on your back and chest as it is a helpful way to reduce body and chest acne. Ideally, the acne body washes that you purchase will contain salicylic acid as it is particularly helpful. Here are some products to consider:
- Murad Acne Body Wash
- CeraVe acne Foaming Cream Cleanser
- PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash
- Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel
- Bliss Clear Genius Clarifying Gel Cleanser
#2 Use an Acne Cleanser
In addition to purchasing a body acne cleanser, you can also get an acne-focused facial cleanser to incorporate into your daily routine. The facial cleanser that you choose should ideally have anywhere from 5-10% benzoyl peroxide. If the product has too much of this ingredient, it can result in additional dryness and skin irritation.
#3 Try BBL Laser Treatment
Did you know that another idea of how to remove body acne is through BBL laser procedures? This is a non-invasive acne treatment that targets the root cause of acne that helps clear breakouts. One major benefit of BBL is that it doesn’t require any medicines or creams, it is pain-free, and it has minimal downtime.
#4 Try Spot Treatments
Some of the best products for body acne are spot treatments that target specific areas. These spot treatments are designed to target and heal the underlying inflammation that causes breakouts. When shopping for ingredients, salicylic acid is often preferred over benzoyl peroxide as benzoyl peroxide is known to bleach clothing. In addition to spot treatments, you can consider a home remedy, just make sure to conduct a spot test on a small area of your body to see if any rashes or irritation develops.
#5 Try Chemical Peel
Chemical peels such as transformational peels, retexturizing peels, metro peels, and retinol/glycolic peels are also helpful in treating face and body acne. By removing the top layer of dead skin, the acne-fighting products can better penetrate the skin and take effect. One difference between chemical peels for your body versus your face is strength. As your body’s skin isn’t as delicate, it is tolerant to more powerful formulas.
How to Prevent Body Acne?
If you’ve ever suffered from body acne, you know just how damaging it can be to your self-confidence. Here are some tips on how to stop body acne and restore glowing, clear skin.
Remember Sun Protection
Different people have different reactions to the sun when it comes to acne. Sun exposure helps increase vitamin D levels and is often associated with helping to improve the appearance of acne, but make sure you don’t overdo it. Too much UV exposure can make your skin age that much faster and cause dark spots. Always wear a protective sunscreen that is mineral-based.
You’ll also want to make sure that you are showering at least once a day to keep chest and body acne to a minimum. By showering regularly, you help to remove any elements that could block your pores such as:
- Dead skin cells
Even if there are some times of year that are colder than others and you might not think you need to shower, doing so every day will provide you with the best acne-fighting results. Consider ending your shower with a cold rinse to close your pores.
Modify Your Diet
What you consume could be a culprit behind why you have body acne. Some studies found that those who have a low-glycemic diet often have less acne. Make sure to focus on eating fresh, whole foods rather than opting for the greasy burger and fries. Dairy products and sugary, high-carbohydrate foods can also raise your blood sugar and have negative effects on your body’s acne.
Avoid Pimple Popping
When you see a new breakout developing, it can be tempting to reach over and pop it or pick at it. In reality, doing this will only add more bacteria into the breakout and make it that much harder to get rid of in the long run. You’ll also want to avoid rough or coarse body scrubs that are harsh on the skin as they can make your breakouts worse.
Breakouts worsen when they are under friction or heat, so you’ll want to avoid causing friction as much as you can. For example, bra straps, backpacks, sports equipment, and tight clothing can all make breakouts that much worse. If possible, avoid causing friction.
Body acne treatment doesn’t always require outside help and there are ways to minimize acne from the inside. For example, hydrate with water as often as you can to help flush out the toxins in your body. You should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day to get the benefits you need. You can also consider swapping out sodas and replacing them with water to improve your overall skin complexion.
Try a New Laundry Detergent
Washing your clothes is an essential facet of keeping germs at a minimum. But in the case that you have oily skin, washing your clothes can also help prevent acne from developing in the first place. Certain detergents could irritate your skin, particularly if they include dyes and fragrances. Consider looking for hypoallergenic laundry detergents.
Wear Loose and Breathable Fabrics
Another method to keep chest and back acne at bay is to wear more breathable fabrics to allow your skin to breathe. The tighter your clothing is the more dirt, bacteria, and oil that can seep into your skin and result in breakouts. Wool, nylon, and spandex can also cause additional irritation. If possible, stick to cotton clothing.
Chest and body acne can be incredibly troublesome and deteriorate your self-confidence. The Metropolitan Skin Clinic is happy to work with you and guide you in the right direction through treatments and products! To take the next step toward glowing and radiant skin, please contact us today to learn more.