Back, chest, neck, and butt — body acne can strike anywhere and at any time. Unfortunately, those who are prone to breakouts on their face can be especially predisposed to body acne, too. And, it’s just as irritating — especially in the summertime.
But don’t let body acne rain on your parade. There are a number of relatively easy steps you can take to tackle the problem. Here are some of the best ways to stop breakouts in their tracks and get rid of that acne quickly and effectively.
1. Use a salicylic acid treatment system
Just as you would apply an acne treatment system to your face, you should treat your body breakouts the same way. Creams, lotions, and body washes that are formulated to hydrate and cleanse skin while fighting acne will usually be oil-free and also include salicylic acid as the hero ingredient. These products come in all price ranges, with many available right from your local drugstore. Just check the label to make sure that salicylic acid is present.
Keep in mind, this powerhouse acne-fighting player is teamed with benzoyl peroxide to kill the bacteria and further combat breakouts. This can be great, but it might be too strong for some. Always test a small portion of the product first to ensure your skin doesn’t react negatively.
2. Don’t scrub too hard
If you tend to get a bit overzealous with the shower brush or an intense exfoliating product, chill out a bit. Allure reports scrubbing too harshly can slough off too much of your skin and increase inflammation, further irritating acne — especially on the more sensitive areas of the neck and upper chest or décolletage.
Take a gentler approach with a soft loofah or washcloth (make sure to clean them regularly, though). Also, your body wash might feature a light exfoliating agent to slough off dead skin cells. Just make sure it’s a gentle exfoliator that’s formulated for sensitive skin. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm than good by increasing skin irritation.
3. Try out a home remedy
Apple cider vinegar is a current darling among the health-food set, prized for its pH-balancing qualities. So, it stands to reason it could do the same for your skin to help prevent breakouts naturally. Plus, it’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial — all the more helpful to tackle problem skin. Just dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water before applying to your skin.
For another home remedy, try milk of magnesia. It can help reduce and heal body acne by balancing the pH and the temperature of the skin. It also unclogs pores and reduces oil and sebum production. Just apply a moderate amount to the affected areas once a day.
4. Shower off the sweat
Clogged pores on the back and chest can be one of the root causes of acne, so it’s important to keep those areas as clean as possible. Rinsing off the sweat from a hard workout at the gym or a hot yoga class will remove bacteria and oil that can lead to breakouts. Also, in the summer, don’t let that sweat mixed with sunscreen build up too much. Once you come inside for the day, rinse it off to keep the skin clear and free. In a pinch, you can also use a gentle cleansing wipe or a specially formulated anti-acne body pad to cleanse the skin and reduce the bacteria.
5. Shower after the pool
Pool days may be your favorite, but don’t let them wreak havoc on your skin. “Chlorinated water contains chemicals that wash away all of the body’s natural oils, causing the skin to be excessively dry, and therefore acne-prone,” Dr. Jeff Birchall, cosmetic dermatologist and owner of Dermacare Laser and Skin Care Clinics, told StyleCaster. So, rinse your way to better skin after going for a swim.
6. Check your shampoo and conditioner
While we’re on the topic of showering, you may want to look into the other products you’re using. Cosmopolitan explains shampoo and conditioner can also cause body acne, due to their ingredients or the residue that they leave behind. You may want to look into all-natural hair care solutions that strip out some of the potential skin-inflaming ingredients, or just make sure you soap up (with that salicylic acid body wash!) after washing your hair, so that any shampoo residue gets thoroughly removed from your body.
7. Keep it clean at the gym
All those weight machines and shared gym equipment can be a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Sure, the shower after the gym will help, but why not double up your efforts and wipe down the machines before and after you use them. Placing a clean towel on the equipment works, too.
8. Say no to spandex
Spandex is a synthetic material that can irritate skin and cause breakouts by trapping in the sweat and oils that clog pores, Men’s Fitness says. You may want to substitute your spandex for looser-fitting options, or high-tech gym wear that will wick away sweat and let your skin breathe. All the more reason to treat yourself to some motivating, new workout outfits, right?
9. Wash your sheets (and check your detergent!)
Your skin comes into direct contact with your bed linens every night. So, one of your acne-producing problems could lie right there between the sheets, where dead skin cells, sweat, and oil all rub off. While you obviously want to make sure you’re changing the bed regularly — at least once or twice a week — you may also want to look at the detergent you’re using. A fragrance-free, all-natural variety that’s safe for sensitive skin might be worth the switch from the standard stuff.
10. Consult a dermatologist
If nothing seems to be working to rid your body acne, it may be time to consult a professional. Set an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss the ongoing body acne problem, as you may need prescription-grade medications, wipes, or other topical products to treat more serious cases.