Body Acne 101: How to Reduce Back and Chest Acne
Dealing with chest and back acne? You’re not the only one. Although these breakouts are uncomfortable and difficult to manage, there are steps you can take to help reduce the blemishes. We spoke with board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant, Lisa Ginn, M.D., to get the official how-to.
When it comes to acne, it doesn’t stop at the face; chest acne and back acne are just as common. And while breakouts on your face are bad enough, there are thankfully countless concealers and foundations we can use to hide the blemishes. When it comes to the rest of our body, coverage can be a lot more difficult — especially in the warmer months when we bare our chests and backs. That’s why taking steps to reduce body breakouts is key. Ahead, find the best tips from Dr. Ginn on how to reduce back and chest acne.
What Causes Back and Chest Acne?
The first step in getting rid of body acne is determining what’s causing you to breakout in the first place. If you have a clear complexion with breakouts 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 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 Benzoyl Peroxide 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 1-2 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 acne-fighting formulas to look for are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, but “benzoyl peroxide can stain your clothes, so be careful.”
Another option to fight acne on your body is to use a body spray, like the AcneFree Body Clearing Acne Spray. It’s formulated with salicylic acid, plus glycolic acid, vitamin B3 and aloe. Before using, be sure to thoroughly cleanse the skin and then apply the spray over the entire affected area — shoulders, back and chest — and let the formula absorb before dressing. To avoid excessive dryness, start with one application a day and slowly increase to twice per day if needed.
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 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.