Acne is a frustrating thing. And it’s something a great many people experience at some point in their lives. The worst thing about acne is it can appear anywhere — not just on your face but on other parts of your body.
If you’re experiencing body acne, don’t panic. There are things you can do to banish those blemishes and keep your skin clear. From finding the right acne treatment to drinking more water, here are seven tips for kicking your body acne to the curb:
1. Determine What Kind of Acne You Have
You may have garden-variety acne, otherwise known as acne vulgaris. It’s caused by the usual combination of factors — excess sebum production, clogged pores, trapped bacteria — that lead to most acne breakouts. But there are two types of body acne that have more particular causes.
If you play sports, your pimples could be the result of acne mechanica. This type of acne is caused by friction, meaning that rubbing from your yoga pants or workout jacket could be irritating your skin. The unfortunate consequence is bumps or pimples on your legs, chest, and/or back. There’s also the chance that your sports bra is trapping sweat and spreading bacteria to your chest and back area. The solution to acne mechanica is to shed your sweaty sports apparel promptly after your workouts and follow up with a shower.
Acne cosmetica, on the other hand, is caused by the skincare and body products you’re using, such as your shampoo or body wash. If you notice bumps or whiteheads around your hairline or on your neck, back, and shoulders, consider swapping out your products. Harsh cleansers and toners that strip your body’s natural oils actually prompt your skin to produce more breakout-producing sebum. The remedy might simply be to use gentler cleansers and apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
2. Consult a Healthcare Provider
It’s always a good idea to have a dermatologist or other healthcare provider evaluate your body acne. They can help determine the cause and figure out the best approaches for treating it.
According to Nurx, your optimal acne treatment regimen might include antibiotics, retinoids, spironolactone, birth control pills or a combination of these. A healthcare professional might offer other suggestions for keeping body acne at bay, including using a natural laundry detergent or an acne-fighting body wash.
If your body acne has been resisting over-the-counter remedies, it may be time to consult a pro. A dermatologist or other professional will be able to provide the expert advice — and prescription meds — your case requires.
3. Do Your Laundry
If your sports bra or pajamas are going several wearings without a wash, you’re doing your skin a huge disservice. It’s incredibly important to wash your clothes frequently. Not only does bacteria build up, but so do dead skin cells, which can cause acne by clogging your pores.
According to dermatologist Annie Gonzalez, failing to wash your clothes regularly can contribute to several skin conditions. Because of this, she recommends washing your everyday clothes after no more than three wearings. (Underwear, of course, should be washed after every use!)
The three-wearings rule doesn’t include clothes you’ve sweated in or that are visibly dirty. Those should be washed after being worn once or when you notice a stain. And don’t forget about your sheets and pillowcases! They should be laundered often as well.
4. Change Your Diet
The food you eat doesn’t just impact your weight and health, it also impacts your skin. If you’re experiencing body acne, you should take a good look at your diet.
Studies have found a link between acne and the consumption of fatty and sugary foods. Dairy products have also been found to contribute to acne breakouts.
Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you consume dairy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? While your sweets- and dairy-packed diet might not be the direct cause of your acne, it’s definitely not helping. Consider adopting a nutrient-heavy diet with more vegetables and high-quality proteins and fewer dairy and sugar-laden products.
Try eating more salmon, for example. This fish is considered good for your skin because it’s a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Salmon can also reduce inflammation. Red grapes are another great anti-inflammatory because they contain antioxidants. It’s important to do your research on the food you’re consuming as it can have a negative or positive impact on your health.
5. Try Spot Treatments
Spot treatments can be an effective way to shrink pimples and reduce inflammation. They’re convenient, too, as you can typically buy these products over the counter.
OTC spot treatments typically contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid works best if you’re experiencing blackheads and whiteheads. Red, inflamed pimples, on the other hand, respond best to benzoyl peroxide.
You can also opt for an LED light therapy treatment device. These spot treatment solutions work by zapping acne-causing bacteria while also reducing inflammation.
6. Keep Your Hands Off
The first thing you might want to do when you see a pimple is pop it! The truth is, that’s the last thing you should do. Regardless of whether it’s on your face, chest, arm, or back, leave the pimple alone.
Not only can popping a pimple scar your skin, but it could potentially cause even more blemishes. That’s because when you pop a pimple, the bacteria in the pus can spread to surrounding areas.
Popping a pimple also disrupts your body’s natural healing process, so do yourself a favor and leave your bump(s) alone. They’ll go away faster when you keep your hands off them.
7. Drink Enough Water
As noted earlier, eating the right foods can play an important role in the health of your skin. Well, so can drinking enough water.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that women consume 15.5 cups of fluid (from beverages and food) daily. For men, that figure is 11.5 cups. Be guided by your thirst, of course, but you can’t go too wrong drinking eight glasses of water daily.
The more you follow this guideline, the more hydrated you’ll be, and the better your skin will look. Drinking water flushes out toxins and helps your skin look plumper and feel more elastic.
Acne is incredibly common, but that doesn’t make it any more welcome. While the occasional pimple might be nothing to cry about, full-blown body acne can make you feel insecure. Thankfully, the tips above can help you say goodbye to body acne for good.