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Body Acne 101: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

By Erika Luceri-Johnson

Unfortunately, your face isn’t the only place where pimples can pop up. As if the zits on your face weren’t hard enough to manage, breakouts on your back (colloquially known as ‘bacne’) add another unsavory element to the equation.

Although it doesn’t make great dinner conversation, you might be surprised by how many of your friends battle with this issue: bacne, and breakouts on other parts of your body (like your chest, arms or legs) are actually very common. According to Everyday Health, 60% of those suffering from facial acne also have some form of body acne. Teenage boys and men tend to be the most frequently affected — and not for the reasons you might think! But before we get into the why, let’s identify the most common forms of bacne.

Different Types of Bacne

Here’s the good news: the pimples popping up on your back are exactly the same in nature as the ones on your face. For those who primarily experience comedonal acne, that’s probably a plus, since the breakouts on your back are almost certainly as mild as the ones that flare up on your face. That’s not to say you shouldn’t seek solutions — but even if you leave your acne untreated, it’s significantly less likely to scar.

For those prone to inflammatory acne or hormonal breakouts, however, body acne is likely to become both frequently inflamed and extremely uncomfortable. If you’re unsure which type you have, take a good look in the mirror. If you’re mostly breaking out in blackheads or whiteheads, your acne isn’t inflammatory; but if you’re plagued with pustules or painful red bumps, a visit to the dermatologist should be a more urgent priority.

Why Breakouts Happen

The causes of body acne are often similar to the causes of facial acne. Just like your face, your body has sebaceous glands that secrete sebum to protect your skin. When that sebum is overproduced, it (alongside bacteria and dead skin cells) builds up and blocks pores, leading to breakouts.

So why is body acne more common in young men? Believe it or not, it’s because this demographic tends to work out more frequently! Between the increase in testosterone, the profuse sweating and contact with sweaty surfaces, they’re increasing the chances of clogging their pores.

Athletes and dancers often struggle with body acne because of sweat build up in their costumes or uniforms. While other factors can certainly contribute — clothes that cause friction, hormonal fluctuations, and adverse reactions to skin care products among them — sweat is often the first culprit dermatologists consider.

Easy Fixes and Effective Treatments

Unfortunately, for those prone to body breakouts, bacne can be pretty stubborn — especially when left untreated.

Just like facial acne, addressing bacne begins with treating the affected area with careful (and gentle) care. Just like choosing the right face wash is important for clearing up your complexion, investing in the right body wash could produce amazing results. Look for products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid — but be careful not to scrub too hard! If you overdry or irritate your skin, the severity of breakouts can be exacerbated.

If you think your body breakouts might have something to do with your exercise routine, Men’s Fitness has some useful tips. Change your sheets regularly, avoid synthetic materials, and make sure to slip on something clean after the gym!

If you have questions or concerns, be sure to speak to a dermatologist right away. After all, with bacne (and skin care of all sorts) it’s important not to procrastinate. With a professional’s help, you can avoid scarring and clear up your skin once and for all.

Looking for help with your acne? Join ClearlyDerm’s Virtual Acne Program for personalized treatments without the hassle of an in-office visit.

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