Acne can form wherever there are oil glands and hair follicles -- not just on your face. While body acne is most commonly found on the back, chest and neck, blemishes can appear anywhere except the palms of your hands and soles of your feet [source: Kern].
Body acne can be more challenging to control than facial acne. The skin on your body is thicker and has larger pores than facial skin, making it easier for pores to become clogged. Plus, these areas are often covered with clothes, which means your skin has constant contact with the oil it produces [source: Acne Skin Guide].
What can you do to beat the breakouts? Try these five tips.
Poor hygiene doesn't cause blemishes, but practicing good hygiene can help prevent them. Showering daily can aid in keeping your skin clean and free of bacteria. It's especially important to bathe after exercise or any other sweaty activities. Use mild a body wash and lukewarm water, and make sure you do a thorough job.
While cleansing is essential, you have to be gentle. Showering too frequently, scrubbing too hard, bathing in hot water and using harsh antibacterial soaps can actually make your skin worse [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
Some people believe their acne is aggravated by specific foods, but there's no scientific evidence that supports this. It's true, however, that a balanced diet is vital to the overall health of your skin. Eat foods that are high in antioxidants, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Antioxidants help combat free radicals, which can cause fine lines and wrinkles.
Everyday stress doesn't cause acne; however, chronic stress can make it worse. When you're stressed, your adrenal glands produce more cortisol, and this change in hormone levels causes your sebaceous glands to produce more oil [source: WebMD]. Daily exercise and a good night's sleep are two effective ways to reduce stress.
If your regular body wash isn't doing the trick, try a medicated cleanser or topical over-the-counter product. Look for acne-fighting ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and tea tree oil. Pick a product that's easy to apply -- you'll often be dealing with hard-to-reach areas like your back.
When over-the-counter treatments aren't enough, prescription medications are the next step. Topical treatments usually come in two varieties: antimicrobials, which reduce the presence of acne-causing bacteria, and retinoids, which unclog pores.
Oral antibiotics prevent the growth of bacteria on the skin's surface. Birth control pills are sometimes prescribed for women to regulate hormone production.
Although body acne can be a potentially embarrassing or uncomfortable problem, there are plenty of treatment options available. For more information on body acne and how to get rid of it, follow the links on the next page.
When it comes to exfoliating your face, you need to proceed with caution. The skin on your face is sensitive! Try these tips for exfoliating your face
- Acne.com. "Clearing a Path to Healthy Skin." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.acne.com/prevention/stress_lifestyle.php
- AcneNet. "Acne mechanica." American Academy of Dermatology. (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/article_acnemechanica.html
- AcneNet. "Frequently Asked Questions about Acne." American Academy of Dermatology. (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/FAQ.html
- Acne Resource Center. "Does Stress Cause Acne?" The Acne Resource Center Online. (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.acne-resource.org/understanding-acne/stress.html
- Acne Skin Guide. "Body Acne." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.acneskinguide.com/body-acne.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Acne." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_acne.html
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Plastic Surgery For Teenagers Briefing Paper." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Media/Briefing_Papers/Plastic_Surgery_for_Teenagers.html
- Docshop.com. "Body Acne." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.docshop.com/education/dermatology/body/acne/
- Kern, Daniel W. "What is body acne?" (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.acne.org/body-acne.html#info
- Mayo Clinic. "Acne." 4/30/08 (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.bing.com/health/article.aspx?id=articles%2fmayo%2fD74039E476839EC64DF9F3BE78B2CEE7.html&br=lv&q=acne
- MyFDA.org. "Tips for Clearing Teen & Adult Body Acne." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.myfda.org/tips-for-clearing-teen-adult-body-acne
- Nazario, Brunilda, ed. "See How Your Life Affects Your Skin." WebMD. (Accessed Sept. 15, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/skin-care-advisor-9/skin-beauty-slideshow
- Ohio State University. "Stress Slows Healing of Dental Wounds by 40 Percent." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/marucha.htm
- Stiefel Laboratories. "Acne Products." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.acnemedicine.com/content.aspx?id=56&divid=5
- Valeo, Tom. "Acne Treatments for Men." (Accessed Oct. 1, 2009) http://men.webmd.com/guide/acne-treatments-men?page=2
- WebMd. "Acne Vulgaris." (Accessed Sept. 11, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-vulgaris-cause
- WebMD. "Understanding Acne: The Basics" (Accessed Oct. 1, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-acne-basics