Whether you have back acne or the occasional breakout on your chest or arms, the good news is, you can treat it swiftly and effectively.
We’ve rounded up the best products and gathered advice from the experts to help you manage and treat back acne.
The main causes of back acne
Acne forms in the pilosebaceous follicle (hair follicle with the oil gland) when the pores become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells, explains Dermalogica educator, Unine van Rooyen.
Like on your face, there are numerous sebaceous glands on the body especially on the back, chest and upper arms. This means that acne can form anywhere except on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet as there are no oil glands there.
Other factors which can trigger body acne are;
- Hormone imbalances
- Chronic stress
- Air pollution
- Constant friction with clothing and excessive sweating during exercise
- Medication and lifestyle factors also play a role
- Change of seasons (Acne can be triggered by humidity or cold, dry conditions)
Because back acne covers a larger surface area and is trickier to reach and treat, it can be tempting to just leave it. However, this can make it worse, often resulting in more inflammation and cysts or papules forming. So, it’s best to start treating the problem as soon as you notice a flare up.
Who is more prone to back acne?
The sad truth is, body acne, specifically on the back can happen to anyone at any age. It is, however, more common in men, but women can also struggle with it.
Can stress cause back acne?
One of the primary causes of adult acne is chronic stress, says Unine. Acute stress and temporary stress can cause a breakout from time to time, however, chronic stress can cause hormonal imbalances, which can lead to an increase in oil production and persistent low-grade acne.
Also, stress stimulates the adrenal glands which raises testosterone levels as well as cortisol levels. This might be why you notice a sudden breakout on your chest or back after a particularly trying time at work, or difficult phase with friends or family.
Do hormones play a role in back acne?
Premenstrual acne is pretty common among women, in fact some studies report it affects up to 78% of adult female acne sufferers, says Unine.
Estrogen and progesterone are the primary female hormones that control menstrual cycles and regulate pregnancy, but both these hormones also play a key role in the condition of the skin.
How to treat back acne effectively
Read on to discover our top speedy skin solutions, from light lotions to the latest foaming, hydrating and deep-cleansing formulas…
Exfoliation is key
Although it’s a good idea to slough away those dead skin cells, it’s important to treat your skin gently. Certain exfoliating scrubs may aggravate body acne because the friction from the granules can damage, irritate and increase or spread infection from one follicle to another, explains Unine.
Hydroxy acids are a better choice for exfoliating breakout-prone skin due to their gentler chemical action. Rather than needing to scrub the skin, these products contain hydroxy acids, which dissolve skin cells gently without any friction that can overstimulate and irritate the skin.
Another ingredient you should always look out for on an acne product is salicylic acid.
Here are a few more ways to manage back acne
- Look for a foamy wash you can use on your back that contains salicylic acid
- Choose an oil-absorbing light body lotion or moisturiser
- If the acne on your back or chest is very inflamed or there are deep, red bumps (papules or cysts) visit your dermatologist or skincare professional
- Use a topical antibacterial gel at night to clear the excess oil and dead skin cells, kill the bacteria and reduce inflammation
- Change your bed linen regularly
- Don’t stay in your gym clothes, shower and change your clothing after exercise
- Avoid tight fitting clothing that traps heat and sweat, opt for loose, breathable materials
- Always rinse any excess body wash, shampoo or conditioner off thoroughly and avoid using harsh soaps that can irritate the skin
Here are the best products to treat acne-prone skin gently, but effectively;
This breakout fighting medicated wash is designed to treat and manage breakouts. It contains salicylic acid combined with anti-inflammatory ingredients. It is non-irritating and naturally foaming.
This light gel is ideal for the face and body as it gently cleanses your skin and removes impurities without stripping the skin of vital moisture and leaving it dry.
This soothing soap-free formula gently cleanses the skin, thanks to purifying tea tree oil known for it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Lotions, masks and more
A concentrated night-time clearing treatment that helps clear skin, calm inflammation, and prevent future breakouts by reducing excess sebum, removing impaction plugs and eliminating bacteria.
This 3-in-1 clarifying clay mask turns into a scrub to deeply cleanse, exfoliate pores, absorb oil and visibly reduce the appearance of skin blemishes thanks to the combination of AHA glycolic acid + BHA salicylic acid.
Keep these purifying wipes in your gym back, to ensure you cleanse your back and chest quickly after a workout. They’re ideal for sweeping away any dirt or sweat that could clog the pores on the face or body.
This mild, medicated soap is well-known for helping to prevent and clear acne on the face and body. It’s rich in salicylic acid which helps to target excess sebum and unclog pores.