Acne on your face is bad enough, but when the pimples start making their way down your neck, back, chest, and even buttocks it’s just not good.
Body acne is actually just as common as facial acne, but a lot of people feel more ashamed about the breakouts that coat their back or necks.
Perhaps it is because these areas are commonly hidden by our clothes, but those who do suffer from stubborn body acne can feel as though they are alone in their issues.
Before we say anything else, let us tell you that body acne is totally normal. If you suffer from acne on your face, then it is incredibly likely for you to break out elsewhere too.
The worst thing about body acne is the fact that it cannot be treated as easily as the breakouts on your face. You may have spent a great deal of time and money creating the best skincare routine to control your facial acne, but unfortunately, this cannot help the rest of your body.
Acne treatments that are made for the face are simply not strong enough to handle body acne, meaning you need to find new solutions to this issue.
What Is Body Acne?
Most people who suffer from acne or regular breakouts on their face are also likely to experience body acne.
Body acne is the term that refers to any kind of breakout that happens everywhere but the face.
The most common areas for body acne are:
In some cases, acne can also appear on the buttocks and can be quite uncomfortable.
When people seek medical advice, either through their doctor or a dermatologist, for their acne, they commonly forget to mention the pimples on their back, neck or torso. For most cases, active breakouts on the face are their number one priority.
But this is why a lot of body acne cases go untreated.
Body acne is essentially the same kind of acne that appears on your face, but you may think that it is more prominent or more painful when it appears on your body.
This is because the pores on the body are less flexible and tougher than those on our face.
So although we experience acne vulgaris (that’s just common acne) on both our face and body, pimples on the body can appear more inflamed and prominent.
What Is The Difference Between Facial Acne and Body Acne?
Although both the acne you get on your face and across your body is essentially the same thing, there are some noticeable differences in how they look.
This is due to the way your pores are and how they differ on your face and body.
Body acne differs from facial breakouts in various ways, such as:
Friction acne occurs on the body where our clothes lie
Acne mechanica or friction acne is the name given to the breakouts that occur most commonly on areas of the skin that come into contact with clothing straps.
These breakouts occur when the skin becomes sweaty and rubs against the cotton or jersey material of the clothes you are wearing. This friction breaks down the lining of pores.
Once broken down, sweat can impact the upper layer of your skin.
In most cases, sweat will over-hydrate your body and cause the upper layers of skin to dry out and even die.
Flakes of dead skin cells, excess oils and bacteria then get trapped in the pores of the surrounding skin, and this is where pimples come from. This kind of acne can cause whiteheads and blackheads.
Friction acne can occur on the face, but due to the fact it is brought on by trapped sweat and contact with clothing, it is more commonly found on the body.
Painful burrowing breakouts on the body
Acne conglobate is a form of ‘burrowing’ breakouts that occurs when a group of pimples appears as one.
These can appear on the back, neck, buttocks and sometimes facial areas. Typically, two to four pimples will pop up in one place and coalesce into one large red lesion.
Burrowing breakouts can be quite painful, tender and will appear very inflamed.
These kinds of pimples do not occur due to blocked pores, however, so no amount of cleansing the skin or acne treatments can reduce or prevent them.
Acne conglobate is a medical condition that is typically associated with fluctuating hormones. If you do notice any kind of itchy, swollen and sore red pimples appearing on your body, then you should seek medical advice.
Where Else Can Body Acne Appear?
Although the back, neck, buttocks, and torso are the most common areas for body acne, breakouts are, of course, not limited to these areas.
You can get body acne on literally any part of your body. This can cause some issues when it comes to treating your breakouts, as some bodily areas are more sensitive than others.
Additionally, a lot of breakouts that occur across your body are not just simply acne. They can be a sign of internal infections, illnesses or allergies.
Be mindful of the breakouts on your body and take note of what they can mean.
If you are concerned about pimples, rashes or cysts on your body, then you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Breakouts across the bra line typically appear as red, itchy and irritated bumps. Although these may seem like harmless pimples, these kinds of acne breakouts could actually be a sign of a yeast or bacterial infection.
If you already have a rash across your bust, then you should try treating it with miconazole lotion which can be purchased from most pharmacies or drug stores.
In order to prevent bust breakouts in the future, you should consider using an anti-fungal powder or antiperspirant in this area regularly.
Breakouts on the butt often appear as little bumps in the skin. This condition is commonly known as buttne and is fairly common – especially in those who suffer from facial acne or other body breakouts.
However, despite the fact that these lumps look like regular pimples, in most cases of buttne, these lumps appear due to infected hair follicles.
You can treat and prevent infections in your hair follicles using salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide after workouts or long hot days.
Keeping your skin clean and fresh is a great way to reduce the risk of infections and breakouts.
Bikini Line Breakouts
Small red lumps across your bikini line could be an acne breakout, but it is most likely to be there due to a shaving rash.
Pimples can also appear in this area due to ingrown hairs, which will cause sore and inflamed red lumps, as well as razor burn.
When shaving all areas, but especially somewhere sensitive like the bikini line, you should make sure you are using a clean, sharp razor and shaving cream or lotion.
You want to remove all hairs smoothly and fully, without causing unnecessary irritations.
For post-shave treatment, you can use soothing aloe vera gel or hydrocortisone.
What Is Causing My Body Acne?
Body acne can occur for the same reasons as breakouts on your face appear. They can be caused by bacteria, dead skin cells and excess oils clogging the pores.
However, as the pores on the body are tougher than those on the face and the fact that our bodies come into contact with different contaminants than our faces, this isn’t the only reason.
Body acne can be caused by:
Synthetic materials like spandex are designed to be tight to your body and can cause a lot of bacteria build up on the skin.
Spandex can actually encourage bacteria, sweat, moisture, and oil to get trapped and build up in the pores of the skin.
Instead, you should wear loose, cotton clothing which will allow your skin to breathe and push away bacteria buildup.
This is essential during workouts or hot summer days.
Gym Sweat and Germs
The whole point of a good workout is to sweat, and there is nothing you can do to stop this natural reaction to movement.
But, sweat does come with a range of acne-causing bacteria.
This means you can develop bacteria on your own skin while sweating, but also you can pick up germs from second-hand sweat left on machines at the gym.
In order to prevent breakouts from sweat-based bacteria, you need to remain mindful of when it can appear and be proactive.
Take anti-bacterial wipes with you to the gym to clean machines before you use them, as well as regularly drying yourself off with a towel throughout your workout.
Bed sheets that haven’t been washed in a while are a hotbed for bacteria, sweat, dead skin cells and dirt that can burrow their way into your body’s pores.
You should make sure to wash and change your bed sheets regularly, especially after a period of illness or severe acne breakouts. This will remove any remaining bacteria from your bed and prevent them from getting into your skin and making your body acne worse.
Similarly to your clothing, your bedlinen should be lightweight, moisture wicking materials, like cotton.
This keeps your sheets breathable and prevents as much of a build-up of acne-causing bacteria or dirt.
Food and Water Intake
If you suffer from acne or regular breakouts, then the fact that your diet plays a huge part in your skin quality will come as no surprise to you.
It is true that having a bad diet can influence your skin, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy chocolate or a candy bar every once in a while.
You should make sure that your diet is full of healthy nutrients and that you are getting a good balance of everything your body needs. This ensures that your body functions properly and has enough energy to undergo the essential renewal processes, including skin rejuvenation.
Foods like protein, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats are not only healthy for your body but for your skin too.
You should also make sure you are drinking enough water every day to remain hydrated.
Stress and Other Emotional Factors
Stress is a well-known cause of facial acne in adults and teenagers alike, so it makes sense that it is connected to your body breakouts too.
When the body is under stress, whether that be from work, home pressures or a mental health condition, your cortisol levels are increased by the adrenal glands.
An increase in cortisol results in an increase of oil production by the sebaceous glands, which means more oil on the surface of the skin. This increase in excess oils results in more chances for your pores to become clogged and pimples being formed.
This is the same process for both your face and body, as stress has an overall negative impact on your entire body.
It can also impact your immune system making it harder for your body to fight off these bacterias. A reduced immune system also means that you are more at risk of catching viruses, which in turn can cause more breakouts and acne pimples to appear on the skin.
If you do suffer from stress or any other emotional issue, then you should contact your doctor or even consider speaking to a therapist. These medical professionals will be able to recommend medications or practices to improve your mind and body.
Does My Medication Cause Body Acne?
Acne breakouts are often a common side effect of a lot of prescription medication, due to how they impact the way your body behaves and repairs itself.
Here are just some of the medications that can cause body acne breakouts:
- Treatments for hormones (especially those using testosterone)
- Hormonal contraception, such as the pill
This is by no means an exclusive list. You should carefully read the medical information that comes with your prescription and talk to your doctor about the side effects of your medications.
How To Treat Body Acne?
The worst thing about body acne is the fact that it often cannot be treated using the same acne skin care products you would use on your face.
As the skin on your body is less exposed and therefore tougher than that on your face, acne breakouts across the body need something stronger than a gentle anti-acne cleanser, scrub or lotion.
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most popular acne treatments. Depending on what strength you require, you can purchase this compound in over-the-counter products or get a prescription from your doctor.
If you suffer from body acne, you may need a prescription to treat the breakouts across your neck or torso. This is because it is likely that you will need a stronger percentage of benzoyl peroxide.
Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide products can be anything from 2.5% strength to 10% strength, whereas prescription treatments are anything upwards of 5%.
Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-producing bacteria from the pores across your body. Killing the bacteria is a sure-fire way to prevent further pimples and reduce inflammation of current breakouts.
This treatment can also break up hardened skin oils that can form whiteheads or blackheads across the skin.
It also allows the skin an opportunity to renew and rejuvenate the cells, which in turn results in a brighter and more refreshed complexion.
As benzoyl peroxide is a fairly strong acne treatment, it is totally normal to experience some tightening, tingling or even itching when you first start to use it.
The side effects should not get any worse than this, so if you do notice any further irritations in the skin or if the treatment feels too harsh on your skin then stop immediately and seek medical advice.
Other Body Acne Treatments
Just like the acne on your face, there is a wide range of specialized treatments for the breakouts across your torso, back, neck and buttocks.
If you suffer from body acne, then you can also try:
- Tea tree oil
- Alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids
- Medication prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist
- Salicylic acid
Is My Hygiene A Factor In Body Acne?
As a lot of the acne breakouts that occur across your body are caused by various contaminants, maintaining your hygiene and being proactive with your body can reduce the number of breakouts you experience.
If you suffer from friction acne, you should make sure that you shower immediately after your gym session – especially if you wear spandex or other tight materials.
Studies have proven that sweat and other acne-causing bacteria can set into pores within four hours.
Clearing your skin, toweling away sweat and generally remaining proactive can be a great way to reduce and prevent body acne breakouts.
As with all skin care issues, you need to find what works for you.