Skin Care for Back and Body Acne

Young man with acne on his back

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When we think skincare we typically think of our face. But the skin on our body needs some love, too! Especially when we’re dealing with body breakouts.

Acne can pop up everywhere: the back, chest, shoulders, even on the butt. But acne can be treated, no matter where it develops.

This article is all about how to care for your acne-prone skin—developing the perfect cleansing and moisturizing regimen (that won't aggravate breakouts).

Now, read on to create the perfect body care routine for acne-prone skin.

Grab an Acne-Fighting Body Cleanser

Mild body breakouts often respond well to over-the-counter medicated body washes, so you might want to start there. Products like Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash and Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Body Wash contain salicylic acid, which is good for bumps and blackheads.

Inflamed blemishes tend to respond better to OTC benzoyl peroxide products, like PanOxyl Foaming Wash or Cleansing Bar. These products can stain your washcloths and towels, though.

If you’re already using a doctor-prescribed acne medication, you may want to forgo the medicated washes for a gentle, all-over body cleanser. Dove or Cetaphil are both great non-drying and non-irritating brands. Ask your dermatologist if you should use a medicated or non-medicated body wash.

Exfoliate, but Gently

Yes, it’s important to keep your skin exfoliated. But there’s no need to scrub the top layer off of your body.

Body acne can't be scrubbed away. In fact, vigorous scrubbing of the skin exacerbates inflammation of the follicles and can worsen breakouts.

A soft shower puff, washcloth or soft body brush is all you need. Apply a squirt of body wash and gently (gently) buff the skin. Super abrasive scrubs and loofahs can do more harm than good, so steer clear.

If your acne is especially inflamed, skip the scrubbing altogether. You’ll further irritate breakouts.

Try Baths Instead of Showers

This is a good alternative to scrubbing. Soaking in a warm bath helps loosens dead skin cells. Consider this a gentler way to slough away cellular debris and help keep the pores open and clear.

Some estheticians recommend putting a cup of Epsom or Dead Sea salt into the bathwater to help heal inflamed lesions (it’s good for sore muscles too). Make sure the acne-affected areas remain submerged under the water for at least twenty minutes.

Shower Immediately After Sweating

Sweat isn’t your skin’s friend, at least not when you’re acne-prone. Sweat can aggravate existing breakouts, so shower ASAP after working out or sweating.

Go Ahead and Use Gentle, Oil-Free Lotions If You’re Feeling Dry

Acne medications can definitely dry out your skin, no matter where on the body. Although the skin on the body is typically more oily than the skin on the face, and less likely to dry out, it can happen (isotretinoin, anyone?).

If you need body lotion, choose a gentle oil-free brand. It’s less likely to clog your pores and exacerbate breakouts.

Ditch scented lotions for now. Yes, they smell amazing. But if your skin is already dried out from your acne medications, fragranced lotions can be irritating.

Apply Your Acne Treatment Products

So, now that you’ve got your body care routine down, it’s time to focus on treatment. Good skincare alone typically isn’t enough to clear up body acne, especially if your acne is very inflamed or widespread.

Apply your acne treatments after your skin is cleansed and completely dry. Whether you’re using prescription medications or OTC products, make sure you follow the usage directions.

Don’t have a body acne treatment yet? Talk with a dermatologist. Your derm will help you create a body acne treatment plan that will work best for you.

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Article Sources

  • "Questions and Answers About Acne." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Jan 2006. National Institutes of Health.
  • "Acne: Tips for Managing." Dermatology A-Z. American Academy of Dermatology, 2015.