Can You Treat Body Acne Like Face Acne?

woman examining her shoulder and applying skin treatment
Acne is acne, but body blemishes may clog your pores a little more. So let's talk about how to prevent body acne, treat it, and what you might be doing to cause it.

We all have our tried and true tactics for tackling an unwanted zit. There are countless guides all devoted to deflating face pimples. But body acne is often left out of the conversation. Nobody likes to talk about bacne, after all. But it’s just as irritating and important to deal with.

Just like our faces, body acne can pop up anywhere and when we least expect it. Treating it can be even more difficult most times, especially in hard-to-reach places. With a consistent all-over skincare routine, most blemishes are easily treatable.

Here’s how skin experts say to handle your body acne from now on.

How Does it Happen?

woman scratching acne on her back

Acne develops where we have a high concentration of oil glands. In turn, we find blemishes most on our face, chest, and back. Still, it can make an appearance anywhere your pores get clogged. When excess oil gets trapped in the pores, acne forming bacteria and inflammation move in.

You may notice you breakout after breaking a sweat. Contrary to certain workout myths, exercise doesn’t cause acne. But not getting out of your sweaty workout clothes does. The sweat mixed with dead skin cells gets trapped in your clothes, clogging your pores and spreading bacteria. The moral of the story: always change out of your soiled clothes ASAP and shower after sweat-inducing activities if you want to avoid body acne.

Can You Treat It Like Your Face?

The short answer is: yes and no. Blackheads, whiteheads, painful pustules, all zits tell a story about what’s going on with your skin. And so, the products you use on your face to treat acne can be used on your body if it’s the same type of bump. Whether or not it works will depend on how well the product works for you in general.

It may also require you to be pretty flexible.

a woman popping a pimple on her face

For out of reach blemishes, many swear by body sprays. They also come dermatologist recommended. Most contain the zit conquering duo: benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Not only do both ingredients treat all things acne, but they work together to shed the skin’s top layer, which is critical to keep your pores clear and prevent future breakouts.

Also, you might like using a scrubber with a handle for those hard-to-reach places. They’ve gotten incredibly popular in recent years for good reason. But no matter your method, it’s important to take your time. According to one dermatologist from The Cut, “You should apply your cleanser, let it sit, lather it up while you sing the alphabet, then rinse off.”

For those applying a topical product post-shower, make sure to let it dry before getting dressed. Not only does it need to fully absorb into your skin, but it might discolor your clothes if it’s still wet.

Above all else, you should treat it as a face pimple in one big way: don’t pick it.

How To Treat and Prevent Body Acne

Along with good hygiene and regularly doing laundry, there are some extra things you can do to prevent and treat body breakouts.

woman exfoliating arm with coffee scrub

Try to exfoliate regularly. I highly recommend trying a coffee or sugar scrub. Aim for two to three times a week to start, but feel things out. You may want to exfoliate more, or potentially less, depending on your skin.

No matter what you have planned each day, opt for breathable clothing. This may not always be possible, but consider it an absolute must during workouts if nothing else. And again, shower right after. Along with your clothes, make sure your sheets are clean. Your bed can be a breeding ground for unwanted germs, including thousands upon thousands of your dead skin cells.

As mentioned, there are plenty of great products for spot treatments out there. So if you trust a line for your face, it’ll likely work close to equal wonders on your body. For example, I’ve used Murad’s Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment for years and it’s never let me down with just how well it works anywhere I use it.

With that said, there are products specifically designed with your body blemish woes in mind. If you want an all-over acne cleanse, try Cerave’s highly rated Salicylic Acid Wash to start. At $11 a pop, it may prove itself worth every penny.

Treating Your Skin From The Inside Out

Any dermatologist will tell you, body acne, especially bacne, can be stubborn, often nestling deeper than face acne. This is because the thickness of the dermis on the back is actually the thickest of anywhere on the entire body. Point is, most products can only go so deep beneath the skin’s surface.

If you’re doing all you can to treat it with topical treatments and good hygiene, the issue may have more to do with what’s going on inside you than your gym clothes. It could be time to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist. A good place to start is your diet. You may need a prescription, but you may just need to eat less dairy. So start with small changes. Proper nutrition, staying hydrated, and boosting your immune system can all improve your skin.

Many dermatologists advise turning a probiotic into your new daily supplement with your skin’s health in mind. And always, always, always, remember your SPF. Just make sure it’s oil-free.

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