Although acne is most commonly associated with the face, it is common to have acne on the body, especially the chest and back. The causes are the same: the pores of the skin become clogged with dead skin cells and excess oil. Acne can occur anywhere there are hair follicles and sebaceous glands (the oil producing glands); therefore, the entire body except the palm of the hands and soles of the feet are susceptible.
Despite being caused by the same combination of oil and pore-clogging dead skin cells, body acne is harder to treat. The skin on your body is thicker than that of your face and has larger pores. Additionally, the constant contact with clothes that may have dirt, sweat and excess oil increases the chance of pores being clogged.
However, there are simple precautions and remedies for body acne. First and foremost is prevention. Although acne is never caused by poor hygiene, cleansing your body of excess dirt, oil and dead skin cells keeps the pores from becoming clogged. Pimples occur when bacteria infects these clogged pores. Keeping your skin clean will remove any bacteria, decreasing the chances of breaking out. Showering daily, especially after exercising is especially important. Use a mild soap with a sponge or loofah, and be sure to cover every part of your body. Additionally, do not remain in sweaty, dirty clothes longer than necessary, and shower as soon as possible.
Exfoliation will help rebalance your skin and prevent future breakouts. Through exfoliating, you will rid the body of excess dirt and dead skin cells, removing many of the problems. Additionally, you will be promoting skin turnover and allow for the rejuvenation of new skin cells, making your skin look great and getting rid of any lingering red, irritated areas. You only need to exfoliate once a week.
However, do not cleanse or exfoliate too much. If you shower too often, the oil in the body becomes out of balance. Too hot of water will dry out your skin, which can cause breakouts. Additionally, harsh antibiotic soaps and scrubs can irritate your skin rather than cure the acne.
To treat breakouts, you can use some topical medication, just like for facial acne. You can choose from either antibacterial gels that kill the acne causing bacteria. Another topical medicine, retinoids, unclogs pores. However, these products may cause irritation, so use with caution. Additionally, you can use other topical aids to treat acne, including alpha-hydroxy acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and even tea tree oil. These typically are used as ingredients in other products, like soaps and lotions. Because the skin is tougher, you can try using multiple treatments. However, do so sparingly and try one at a time until you know how it works with your skin.
For extreme breakouts, you can opt for oral medication. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause the outbreaks; however, use sparingly as bacteria can build up a tolerance and antibiotics have some side effects. Additionally, for some women, taking birth control pills can help cure body acne. Because estrogen plays a role in the skin’s oil production, an imbalance of hormones can cause acne, so taking birth control will rebalance the hormones and stop the problem.
In addition to hygiene and medication, having a healthy diet and limiting stress will reduce your body acne. Foods high in antioxidants and skin benefiting vitamins, like vitamin A, will boost your skin’s health from the inside out. Omega-3 fatty acids also benefits your skin and prevents acne by balancing oil production. Stress can cause your body to excrete extra oil, increasing the chances of developing acne. Therefore, find ways to decrease the stress in your life, like exercise and meditation.
Although unsightly, body acne can be treated. It is just important to find the right balance between prevention and treatment and irritating the skin. Always try products one at a time to see how your skin reacts. Also, remember that sometimes it takes time for the body to rebalance and heal.