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If You’re Struggling With Body Acne, Read This

Body acne can be frustrating to deal with, especially during the warmer months. Here at Kiehl’s, we explain what causes body acne and how to manage it.

If you’ve ever dealt with acne, you probably know that a blemish can appear anywhere, from your face to your back to your chest. Body acne—basically, any pimple not on the face—is typically caused by clogged pores (more on that later). Of course, knowing what causes body acne and how to get rid of body acne are two very different things—the truth is, achieving clear skin takes work.

While there (sadly) is no one-size-fits-all guaranteed way to get rid of acne on your body for good, there are things you can do to help manage it. Here, we’ll give you the rundown on what body acne is and some of the common causes of chest acne, back acne (also known as “bacne”), and other non-facial breakouts. We’ll also clue you in on six things you can do to help keep these unwanted visitors at bay. Read on for your guide to preventing and addressing acne on your body.

What Is Body Acne?

“Body acne” is a sort of catch-all term used to describe breakouts that occur somewhere other than your face. While body acne can technically crop up anywhere, the most common areas include the shoulders, back, and chest—in other words, areas that have a high concentration of sebaceous glands. Body acne isn’t cause for concern in and of itself, but it can be frustrating to deal with, especially if it’s persistent.

What Causes Body Acne?

Acne comes in many different forms, such as whiteheads and blackheads, but research shows it is frequently caused by clogged pores. Other causes and contributors include excess oil production, bacteria, and hormonal imbalances, as well as sweat and friction from tight-fitting clothes. Finally, there’s a genetic component: Those who have a family history of acne may be more likely to experience breakouts themselves.

The most common subtypes of acne are the blackheads and whiteheads we already mentioned, as well as pimples. Blackheads typically develop when pores get clogged with oil and dead skin cells, and then that buildup is exposed to air, causing it to oxidize and turn a dark brown-to-black color. Whiteheads develop similarly but without the oxidation. Finally, pimples develop when oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria get stuck inside a pore and cause it to become inflamed or infected. These types of acne develop in the same manner, whether you have body breakouts or pimples on your face.

Thankfully, lots of acne can be managed by maintaining a dedicated skincare routine. Keep reading to learn about which products to incorporate into your routine to help keep your skin looking clear.

How To Manage Body Breakouts: 8 Tips

If you’re here looking to learn how to get rid of body acne for good, we have some news you may not want to hear: There is no 100% guaranteed way to get rid of any skin concern, body acne included. Following the right routine and maintaining healthy skin habits can, however, help keep pimples on your body (and face) at bay. Here, find eight tips for managing your body breakouts.

Tip #1:

Keep Skin Clean With a Gentle Body Wash

Whether you have chest acne or forehead pimples, clearer skin often starts with keeping your pores clean of trapped oil and skin cells, as studies indicate these are the main causes of breakouts. The first step in your daily body care routine should be to wash thoroughly with a gentle cleanser specifically formulated for the skin on your body, like Bath and Shower Liquid Body Cleanser, which is suitable for all skin types. The foaming wash gently yet effectively cleans the skin and helps to maintain moisture, leaving skin feeling clean and comfortable.

When you hop in the shower, after washing and conditioning your hair, apply a generous amount of the body wash to your skin with clean hands or a loofah. Cleanse your entire body, making sure to focus on breakout-prone areas like the back and chest, and rinse thoroughly.

Tip #2:

Exfoliate Regularly

Exfoliating helps remove dead cells from your skin’s surface, which may help to prevent clogged pores. That said, there’s a balance to be struck: While exfoliating can be beneficial for those prone to body acne, over-exfoliating can irritate your skin and make you more likely to break out.

As such, we recommend starting slowly and reaching for mild products, such as Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub. This creamy formula with aloe vera and crushed apricot pits helps remove dead surface cells without over-drying your skin. It’s suitable for all skin types and helps reveal softer, smoother skin over time.

If you prefer bar soaps, try “Ultimate Man” Body Scrub Soap instead. It contains oat kernel meal and pumice and helps slough away dead skin while helping to remove dirt and oil. Massage the bar directly onto your skin for gentle exfoliation; for more thorough exfoliation, you can use a washcloth to massage the lather onto your skin.

Tip #3:

Wash Your Hair First

If washing your body is the first step in your usual shower routine, you may want to reconsider. Hair products, like shampoos and conditioners, often contain ingredients that, while good for your hair, may clog your pores. Washing your body after washing your hair helps remove any lingering product residue to ensure that your haircare routine won’t lead to body acne.

Tip #4:

Shower After Exercising

Getting regular exercise isn’t just a New Years’ resolution—it’s an essential part of self-care. However, if your workouts are particularly sweaty, you’ll want to carve out time to shower afterward. Sweat and tight clothes can both contribute to body acne. So leaving that sweaty sports bra on after your workout ends definitely isn’t the best idea if you’re struggling with back acne or other body breakouts. The same goes for swimming—you’ll want to rinse off after swimming, regardless of whether it’s in a pool or in the open sea. When you’re not working out, showering more than once per day typically isn’t necessary.

Tip #5:

Moisturize Every Day

It may seem counterintuitive to use a body butter or lotion if your skin is producing excess oil and causing acne on your body, but moisture is crucial for healthy-looking skin. Neglecting to moisturize can leave your skin vulnerable to dehydration, and if your skin gets too dry, your body may produce excess oil to restore balance. This increased sebum production can lead to clogged pores and, ultimately, breakouts. Regularly using a lightweight moisturizer, like our classic Creme de Corps Body Lotion with Cocoa Butter, can help keep your skin adequately hydrated. This non-greasy formula absorbs quickly, leaving the skin feeling soft and moisturized. Apply an even layer to your damp skin after showering to help seal in moisture for the best results.

Tip #6:

Try a Spot Treatment

Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment

Even if you do everything right, the reality is, you’re probably still going to get back acne or a pimple on your chest every now and then. When that happens, reach for a spot treatment designed to treat active breakouts, such as our Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment. This formula, which features 10% sulfur, helps reduce the appearance of the blemishes that do pop up while also helping prevent new breakouts from forming. Simply dab a small amount of the spot treatment onto clean skin one to three times per day as needed (tip: recruit a loved one for help applying it on hard-to-reach areas like your back).

Tip #7:

Don’t Pick at Your Body Acne

Try to avoid squeezing, picking at, or popping the pimples on your body—or in any spot, for that matter—as that can make the breakout worse and could lead to acne scars. In general, you should avoid touching acne as much as possible, as oils and bacteria from your fingers can penetrate the already-damaged skin around the breakout and make it worse. If touching the pimple is unavoidable, make sure to wash your hands with soap before and after to avoid transferring bacteria to other parts of your body.

Tip #8:

Consult a Dermatologist

Ultimately, there are no absolutes when it comes to skincare. If you’re suffering from recurrent body breakouts and topical acne treatments aren’t helping as much as you’d like them to, consult a board-certified dermatologist for professional help. A dermatologist will help you figure out why you’re getting acne and may give you prescription-strength medication to help manage your breakouts.

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