Blackheads and pimples don't only appear on the face. There are plenty of other places those breakouts can pop up. The chest, neck, shoulders and upper arms, and even the butt are all common places to get pimples. Back acne is so common it even has its own name: bacne.
If you're dealing with back and body acne, know that it's completely normal and you've got plenty of company. Body acne can happen to anyone, both teens and adults.
Body acne is caused by the same factors that trigger facial acne, namely overactive oil glands, excess dead skin cells, and a proliferation of acne- causing bacteria. Here's how acne pimples develop: When oil and dead skin cells become trapped within the follicle, or what we commonly call the pore, it can create a blockage. This blockage becomes a blackhead and can progress to an inflamed pimple if bacteria invade. Body acne is generally confined to the back and upper half of the body, as opposed to your legs. Like the face, the upper half of the body has many sebaceous glands, so the follicles are more likely to become plugged with excess sebum and dead skin cells.
Certain articles of clothing, sports equipment, and other gear may be triggering your body breakouts. Rubbing or pressure on the skin, combined with heat and/ or sweat, can irritate and inflame follicles and cause a specific type of acne called acne mechanica.
If at all possible, try to avoid sources of friction while you're trying to heal body acne. These include tight-fitting clothing, too-snug collars, backpacks, purse straps, and athletic pads or gear. Students may want to carry their books in a handheld bag instead of wearing a heavy backpack.
Sweat can also irritate body acne. To minimize irritation, shower as soon as possible after exercising. Don't aggressively scrub the skin, though. Remember, you want to avoid friction. A thorough, but gentle cleansing—preferably with a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide wash—is better than a vigorous scrubbing.
Good daily care for the skin on your body is a good backbone for your acne treatment routine. Finding a treatment that works can seem frustrating, especially after you've tried several over-the-counter (OTC) treatments with little improvement.
Unless your breakouts are very mild, you'll need a prescription treatment to get good clearing. While a trip to your doctor or dermatologist may seem like a hassle, in the long run, you'll save yourself time and money. You won't be buying OTC products that won't work for you and you'll be happier with the results you get.
If body acne doesn't bother you all that much, that's great. But if it does bother you, know you're not alone. Many people say they feel embarrassed or ashamed of their body acne, and take great pains to cover affected areas.
You may choose clothing that reveals as little of the breakouts as possible, avoiding tank tops or sleeveless shirts and deep necklines. You might even consider quitting recreational sports or not participate in certain activities because of breakout embarrassment. It's hard to enjoy yourself at the pool if you're feeling self-conscious about baring your skin in a swimsuit.
Body acne can be especially hard if you're a teen. Undressing in locker rooms or choosing a prom dress can be frustrating and can affect your self-confidence.
But all of these feelings are completely normal. You're not being vain. Acknowledge these feelings; don't feel like you have to justify them or talk yourself out of them. Then, start on treatment for body acne to get those breakouts under control.