Body Acne 101: How to Reduce Back and Chest Acne
Dealing with chest, back or shoulder acne? You’re not the only one. Although these body breakouts can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage, there are steps you can take to minimize and prevent them. We spoke with board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant, Lisa Ginn, M.D., to get the official how-to of banishing body acne.
What Causes Back and Chest Acne, and Is It the Same as Acne on the Face?
To get rid of body acne, the first step is to determine what’s causing you to break out in the first place. If you have a clear complexion with pimples all over your back and chest, you’ll want to take a look at some of your lifestyle habits. “When you have acne on your body, but not on your face, it’s often caused by waiting too long to shower after working out,” says Dr. Ginn. We continually emphasize the importance of washing the face immediately after a workout but cleansing the body (especially acne-prone areas) is equally important if you are suffering from body breakouts. “The enzymes from your sweat sit on the skin and can cause breakouts,” Dr. Ginn explains. “I tell my patients to at least rinse off, even if they can’t take a full shower. Get water on your body within ten minutes after exercise.” Cleansing the skin with an acne body wash immediately after a workout can help remove blemish-causing impurities and reduce the chances of future acne on the chest and back.
One face acne cleanser we love that can also be used anywhere on the body is the CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser. For best results, use this cleanser on the affected area twice a day, gently massaging before rinsing. If drying of the skin occurs, as it often can with the use of acne-fighting formulas, reach for this cleanser once a day, or even every other day, until your skin adjusts.
How to Reduce Body Breakouts
Aside from cleansing the skin immediately after a workout, there are a few other measures you can take to reduce body breakouts. Before we dive right in, it’s important to understand the difference between the skin on the face and the skin on the body. “With the skin on your face, the dermal layer is one to two millimeters thick,” Dr. Ginn says. “On your back, this layer is up to an inch thick. Here, the hair follicle is sitting in deeper skin, making it harder to get to.” To address these breakouts, she likes to use topical products formulated with sulfur. Other back and body acne-fighting treatments to look for are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, but “benzoyl peroxide can stain your clothes, so be careful.”
What About Body Breakouts Elsewhere?
Dr. Ginn made a point to note that body breakouts typically only occur on the back and chest. “It’s rare to see it elsewhere,” she says. “If you do, see a dermatologist.”
Editor’s Note: Acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Be sure to apply a non-comedogenic broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, and reapply at least once every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. Up the ante on sun protection by wearing protective clothing, as well as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and avoiding peak sun hours. Here are our favorite sunscreens for every skin type.