January 13th 2020
5 solutions for body acne and bacne
July 5th 2017 / 0 comment
From your back to your chest to your bum, apparently acne isn’t content with simply cropping up on your face. Here's how to get rid of acne on your body
Theoretically, the only place on your body immune to acne is the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. Luckily it tends to limit itself to chest, back and bum, but this isn’t much comfort to those of us suffering with body breakouts. According to the British Skin Foundation, 28% of us have struggled with acne at some stage in our lives, and given that, if you suffer from acne on your face, you’re highly likely to on your body too, a good number of us will be familiar with resorting to a high neckline to hide the evidence.
The British Skin Foundation also reports that 39% of us don’t know how to handle or treat acne (short of trying Roaccutane), and this combined with warmer weather, sweatier environments and oily sunscreens can mean that body acne in particular flares up. To get a handle on your bacne, buttne or boobne (bit of a long shot there), consider one of the following strategies.
1. Shower, but don’t scrub
Clearly you cleanse everyday, but if body acne is an issue, your skin will need more of a helping hand than that pungent litre of family body wash lurking in the shower. Turn to a medicated, targeted wash or bar containing exfoliating salicylic acid, which stimulates healthy cell turnover while calming inflammation. Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Bar for Face and Body, £17, contains 2% salicylic acid to zap bacteria, alongside glycerin to ensure that skin is left soft, not stripped.
How you shower may even be important - Kendall Jenner's dermatologist Christie Kidd has said in a recent video that washing your body while your conditioner gets to work on your hair, and then washing away the conditioner, will undo all that body cleansing and leave an oily residue on your back. Instead, the derm advises rinsing conditioner away first before giving your body a thorough wash. Who knew?
Whatever you do though, don’t be tempted to slough away angry body blemishes with a gritty scrub. This will likely aggravate acne and up your chances of scarring, so instead go gently with a liquid exfoliant wash such as Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap, £8.50, which contains sebum and dead skin cell gobbling papaya and grapefruit extracts alongside oat protein to soothe. It does contain SLS, however, so steer clear if you know that that’s problematic for your skin. Otherwise, suds up.
2. Wash after workouts. Just do it
Another seemingly obvious point, but one that dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams can’t emphasise enough if you’re battling body acne:
“One really important step is to shower straight after a workout. Don’t travel home and leave it until later- wash your skin thoroughly at the gym.”
While exercise is beneficial for your skin on the whole, the resulting increase in sebum and bacteria, plus skin tight sports bras and the like (more on that later), are a warm and welcoming breeding ground for acne. Add in sunscreen and summer weather and spots can spread like wildfire. To avoid this, wash skin as above and never sit around in damp kit.
Even if you’re workouts are water based, they can still up the potential pimple potential, as the likes of chlorine can trigger inflammation and dryness, meaning that skin goes into sebum overdrive. Wash and gently exfoliate post pool session, then treat acne-affected areas accordingly...
3. Spot treat
Giving your bum a facial may seem unrealistic, but applying skincare principles to your body can be the key to clearing up body acne attacks.
Be aware that treatment can depend on the area of your body suffering, for instance skin is very thin and likely to be more sensitised in the décolletage area, while the skin barrier on your back is thicker, so can be more responsive to potent treatments such as retinol.
Murad Clarifying Body Spray, £29.50, can be applied to any bodily breakouts pre-moisturiser, spritzing skin with clarifying salicylic and glycolic acid along with “all-rounder” skin barrier preserving niacinamide.
Go easy at first as it can be drying, and don’t neglect hydration. Veto heavy body creams and opt for something light, oil free and easily absorbed- La Roche Posay Iso-Urea Body Milk, £20, hydrates without irritation, is non-comedogenic and is packaged in a bottle designed to resist bacterial contamination. Follow up with a similarly non-greasy sunscreen during the daytime- Bioderma Photoderm Max Spray SPF 50+, £17.10, provides high levels of UVA and UVB protection without the slimy film and acne angering formulation that puts so many sufferers off wearing sunscreen altogether.
To freshen up and keep bacteria at bay during the day, Dr Stefanie rates the cooling, mattifying and lightly astringent powers of La Roche-Posay Serozinc spray, £8.50 for 150ml.
Mist over chest and back, and dab on Clinique Clinical Anti-Blemish Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel, £21, if any isolated zits are rearing their heads. I swear by this stuff for shrinking even volcanic acne outbreaks, although if you do apply during the day always follow with SPF, as the high salicylic acid content will make skin more susceptible to burning.
4. Anti-blemish attire
The likes of spanx and figure-hugging sportswear can foster spots like nothing else, especially if chafing is a factor. Acne mechanica can occur when clothing rubs against your skin and causes irritation, plus heavy fabrics aren’t helping, as Dr Stefanie highlights:
“Make sure to wear breathable clothing as occlusion may aggravate acne on the body.”
We’re not talking coming to work in a kaftan, but get out of your kit once your workout’s over (and straight into that shower) and never “recycle” your sports bra, ever.
The same levels of cleanliness go for your sheets and pillows, especially during warm spring and summer nights. Wash bedding regularly using a detergent designed for sensitive skin.
5. Go pro
If your off-piste acne simply isn’t shifting despite lifestyle and bedding changes, it may be time to turn to a derm, especially if long-term damage is a concern. Take it from Dr Stefanie
“I would always strongly encourage anybody suffering with breakouts to see a dermatologist to get started on treatment – before scarring occurs! There are now highly effective treatments available, some of which can even switch acne off for good in the majority of patients. Above all, please never feel you’re a time-waster. The only possible waste is the time you’ve spent feeling distressed.”
Treatment-wise, skincare expert Debbie Thomas has recently launched a clarifying treatment for body that’s customised to your particular skin type and the location of stubborn acne. Featuring extractions, a tailored peel and a targeted laser, depending on your needs, the DNA Laser Complete Body Treatment comes in at a whopping £250 a session, but is a highly effective belt and braces approach that you might want to consider if you have a special occasion coming up.
For a slightly less spendy option to treat acne on the chest specifically, Skin Laundry at Liberty offers a £20 ‘neck and chest add-on’ option to its regular Laser and Light Facial, £60 (your first session is free). A low-energy laser penetrates skin to “vaporize” dirt, pollutants and bacteria while encouraging skin to kick start collagen and elastin synthesis in order to repair itself, although you’ll need several sessions to see an effect in terms of skin clarity. Similarly, The Light Salon targets bodily breakouts in a speedy hands-off manner, with a specialised back treatment harnessing the power of infrared blue light to reduce inflammation and blemishes while improving the tone and texture of the skin. Book in for the exclusive to Cowshed Selfridges Deep Cleanse & Correct ExpressLED Back Facial, £75 for a thorough yet gentle cleanse, exfoliation and blue or yellow light treatment, depending on your needs. Time to add backless dresses to that ASOS basket .
Find out more about Roaccutane and its side effects here
Book an appointment at Dr Stefanie's clinic here