The Best Ways To Deal With Body Breakouts
Troubled with pimples on your chest? Annoyed by the dreaded 'bacne'? Then it’s time to take action against body breakouts once and for all.
Body breakouts… boy, are they stressful. Even during wintertime when your skin is mostly covered by chunky sweaters, they can be painful and itchy. And come summer when you want to start exposing a little more flesh to the world? Then the whole situation becomes downright rude.
So, what causes acne on your back and chest (aka folliculitis) and is it the same as the stuff that plagues your face? Kind of. All acne, wherever it may be located, is caused by excess oils which gets trapped in your pores alongside dead skin cells where, together, they become inflamed. Depending on the level of inflammation and whether the pore remains open or closed, these blocked pores can become anything from blackheads (although these are very uncommon on the body) and whiteheads through to pimples, pustules or full-blown cysts.
Body breakouts most commonly occur on your back and chest where your skin tends to be oilier. However, sweat coupled with friction from tight-fitting clothes can irritate the skin anywhere on your body, causing pimples on your legs, arms, even your butt – yes, butt acne: also a thing.
Whether you do or don’t get plagued by breakouts depends mainly on your genes and your skin’s level of oiliness, but hormones and stress are other major factors. You can also blame COVID-19 if you’ve noticed more flare-ups during this past year than ever before. The combination of worry, being too exhausted to take care of yourself and a poor diet can all increase inflammation and breakouts in your skin.
How To Treat Body Breakouts
Thankfully, most skin grievances come with simple solutions. And body breakouts are no exception. Below, we’ve rounded up five of the most effective – and easiest – ways to get prevent and treat body acne. You can thank us later.
1. Reassess Your Cleansing Habits
As tempting as it may be to start exfoliating your body like crazy in a vain attempt to scrub those zits away, this is a terrible idea. Harsh scrubs and cleansers will irritate your skin and compromise your barrier function, making matters a whole lot worse in the long term, so file them away for now. Oh and you know those overly fragranced shower creams that feel super moisturising and luxurious? Well, they’re going to do nothing for your body breakouts. Avoid.
Instead, wash your skin gently with an oil-absorbing, balancing cleanser like Skin Clearing Charcoal Face Wash. Charcoal Face Wash contains activated charcoal which helps draw bacteria, toxins, dirt and oils from your skin making it perfect for blemish-prone areas. Cleanse your body after shampooing and conditioning your hair so your conditioner doesn’t leave residue on your skin, and use a gentle mitt or muslin cloth to help exfoliate as you cleanse.
2. Shower Immediately After Working Out
Always remove your workout clothes and take a shower immediately after exercising.
Bacteria loves sweat, so if you like sitting around drinking tea or catching up with emails after working out, this will do your body breakouts no favors at all, increasing irritation and generally giving bacteria the perfect breeding ground to do its absolute worse. To avoid this, thoroughly cleanse your skin as soon as possible, using a gentle wash that contains acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree oil or, of course, activated charcoal.
When you don’t moisturize your skin, your sebaceous glands go into overdrive, producing even more oils to counteract any dryness your skin may be experiencing. These oils will continue to block your pores and make breakouts ten times worse.
OK, so body oils and butters contain pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil and cocoa butter which are terrible for acne-prone skin… but there are plenty of moisturizers that don’t and are perfect for balancing, soothing and repairing your skin’s barrier function. All of which are important for treating breakouts. Look for moisturizers that are non-comedogenic (this means they’re less likely to block pores) and contain light humectant and emollient ingredients which work to draw water into the skin and lock it all in. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin are especially great for oily, congested skin types. You’ll find both of these in our Retinol Moisturizer which also contains retinol (obviously!) to help boost cell turnover and reduce irritation – win-win.
4. Spot Treat Troublesome Areas
As well as sticking to a smart cleansing and moisturizing routine, try spot treating problem areas with a targeted acne solution. And good news: most products you use on your face will also work on your body. The only ingredient we don’t advise using on body acne is benzoyl peroxide as this can bleach your clothes and bed linen. However, anything containing tea tree oil, glycolic acid, salicylic acid or lactic acid will do the job nicely.
Tea Tree Clear Skin Super Serum, for example, combines tea tree oil with salicylic acid, retinol and hyaluronic acid for a gentle, but super effective acne treatment. Apply a drop to clean fingers and smooth it over cleansed pimples daily to reduce irritation and promote healing.
5. Think About The Clothes You Wear
Clothes that generate friction or put pressure on your skin can irritate the follicles, causing another type of acne called acne mechanica. You know those pimples you might have had (or still have) due to wearing your facial mask for prolonged periods of time? Maskne as it became known as? Well, that was acne mechanica and just like facial masks can cause breakouts on your cheeks and jawline, tight clothing like snug collars can do the same to your body.
To reduce your chances of getting acne mechanica on your body, steer clear of tight clothing and man-made fibers which can add to sweat and bacteria build up. Choose cotton clothing as much as possible and wear looser clothes for a while to see if this helps with your breakouts.
And it goes without saying, wash your clothes, especially your bra, after every wear.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.