The Blight Of Body Acne: How To Banish It For Good

bacne, body acne

Ahhh, a bacne-less back.

Body acne is the bane of everyone’s existence. Well, everyone who suffers from it, of course. Since we’re heading into the season of exposed skin, we did a little research into the pimply problem of body acne and what you can do make sure your summer is spot-free.

Body acne is kind of an awkward topic, but it’s more common than you think. Like acne on your face, “bacne” (Ew, that term just gives me the heebie-jeebies!) is caused by clogged pores. Pores can become clogged with dead skin, excess oil, and bacteria, making you breakout.

Dr. Chynna Steele, with the Aesthetic and Dermatology Specialty Centre in Atlanta, GA, said:

“First of all, body acne is very common and is probably multifactorial in cause like other types of acne. While whiteheads and blackheads are common on the face and are often the start for most acne bumps on the face (even ones that turn into big red bumps), this isn’t the case for the chest and back. Chest and back acne tends to be less often associated with hormonal fluctuations like that on the face.”

Because the pores on your back, chest and elsewhere on your body are bigger than those on your face or neck, body acne is often harder to prevent and treat. The skin is thicker, as well, so pimples on the body can result in more intense scarring. That’s all in addition to the embarrassment of baring bumps and blemishes on your boobs, arms, back and other places.

So what can you do to prevent these pimples? Read on.

Preventing Body Acne

Stuart H. Kaplan, M.D., a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist, has a few suggestions on how to prevent body acne in the first place:

  • Take a shower as soon as possible after a workout. Dirt and sweat on the back can clog pores.
  • Exfoliate with a mild exfoliant several times a week. Remember, harsh particles are NOT better. Use a mild exfoliant with enzymes or finely ground particles like date seeds or jojoba esters. You should treat your back like you would your face.

Dr. Steele suggests:

  • For women (or men) with long hair, make sure not to use thick conditioners and/or oil-containing hair products and allow the hair to lie on the back or chest in the shower/otherwise. These very-rich products that may be great for conditioning the hair can be too thick and clog the pores on the chest and back leading to acne.
  • If you use a body puff in the shower, make sure you change them
    frequently. They tend to collect bacteria hanging around the shower head
    in between showers. You can just drag that bacteria around the body and
    cause an acne break out on the chest or back.

Treating Body Acne 

But if you’ve already got pimples on your body, what can you do to make them go away? Both doctors I spoke to suggested washing with either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide soaps, pads or body washes. Dr. Steele thinks pads are a particularly good way to banish body acne. She said, ”Over-the-counter salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide pads are great to treat the chest and back area. They should be used once daily after showering.”

Other treatments include:

  • Bentonite clay masks can be a good way to dra impurities out from the skin. If you’ve ever seen the Aztec Secret Healing Clay at your drugstore, that’s 100% pure bentonite. Slather on a mask, leave it on for a few minutes, then shower it off. 
  • Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties and is often used to treat and prevent acne on the face, but it works just as well on body acne. Apply the oil itself or look for a cleanser or soap that lists it among the ingredients.
  • Personally, I’ve had success with African black soap in eradicating my own body acne. I buy the Shea Moisture brand from Target and just use in the shower after I use my regular body wash.

Photo: Shutterstock

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    • AStewart

      Thankyou! I have been trying to figure out how to clear mine up, oh to have a back like that!
      Just wanted to add that in the UK you can get Panoxyl cream from the pharmacy – at certain strengths it’s prescriptive (P) rather than prescription only (POM) so you can buy it over the counter. At first it makes your skin worse as it is removing the bad skin and pulling the acne out (like how you often breakout after a facial) but after a few weeks it clears it all away. My single self only doesn’t use it because I can’t reach my back…

    • romylove

      I just wanted to add that you might want to have someone else look at it, like a doctor significant other, or other person that you feel comfortable with, because it may not be acne.

      My boyfriend had terrible body acne growing up, to the point where he was on accutane. He told me it had improved a lot, but he was still uncomfortable with his back and the back of his arms always being covered in acne.

      I give him back rubs, and while doing so a few months ago I decided to get a good look at what his problem actually was. The red bumps in his back and the back of his arms, which have plagued him for years, are ingrown hairs. I informed him of this, and he asked me what he should do about it.

      Working in medicine, I advised him to exfoliate more and to make sure he washes his body after his hair, to remove any conditioner that may be left behind.. He is pretty sensitive, so I have a hard time getting him to exfoliate, and I can’t scrub his back everyday, so that’s pretty much off the table. He has changed his shower routine, so the number of actual pimples has decreased pretty well.

      It would be pretty hard for him to apply salicylic acid to his back, so I recommended laser hair removal. He looked into it. He complained about the cost, so I showed him some Groupons. He has decided to go through with it, but hasn’t decided when.

    • Pamela J. Stubbart

      I struggle with this, it is very frustrating e.g. to plan to wear a low-back dress to a special event and then break out immediately before :(

      There is a Neutrogena body spray on the market (salicylic acid) that works pretty well. I also use Stridex pads copiously on my back in the summer if necessary, and/or cotton pads soaked in witch hazel. Getting a little sun sometimes helps, but other times makes it worse, sigh.

      Also I always always rinse my conditioner before doing a final wash of my back.

    • Myacnelife

      Body acne unfortunately is hard to treat and I completely agree with Tea tree oil but I have never heard of African soap, that’s news to my ears!

      Heres My View On Tea Tree Oil For Body Acne.

    • Kim Garst

      She found an interesting article here about how to get rid of acne