The sun is out, and everyone wants to be sporting tank tops and shorts. The problem? Some of us deal with body acne.

While slightly more prevalent in males, body acne can be found across genders and ages. Much like facial acne, body acne is something that can cause people to shy away from social scenes and have you scrambling to cover up.

Have no fear. Today we’ll take a deep dive into what causes body acne as well as some sure proof ways you can both prevent and treat this unsightly problem.

What Is Body Acne

Just as facial acne can be classified in many ways, so can body acne. Let’s take a deeper look into what types of acne can pop up along your body.

Types of body acne

Types of body acne

  • Blackheads

    Blackheads appear when follicles, or pores, become clogged with sebum, debris and other types of bacteria. The comedones remain open, which allows air to oxygenate the debris and appear black.

  • Whiteheads

    Whiteheads occur just as blackheads do when follicles become clogged. The main difference is the comedones are closed, leaving a small raised bump. These bumps can appear white, hence the name, or remain colorless.

  • Papules

    Papules are raised bumps that are slightly swollen and tender to the touch. Often times they will appear and small to medium size and may be slightly red in color. Considered to be similar to whiteheads, they are caused by bacteria inside a pore that has become infected.

  • Pustules

    Very similar to papules, pustules are what most people picture when they think of pimples. Pustules are small to medium in size, slightly swollen and have the telltale yellow or white center. This is caused by pus, which is due to infection within the pore.

  • Cystic Acne

    One of the more severe forms of breakout, cystic acne can be quite difficult to treat. Additionally, cystic acne is often easily identifiable by its’ characteristic swelling and redness. The inflammation present in this type of acne is rooted much deeper within a pore.

Where Does Body Acne Occur

Body acne can be found on any areas of the body. The most common locations are the shoulders, chest, and back. Acne on the back is so prevalent it has its’ own nickname “bacne.”

Body acne appears more often on the top half of the body as the torso had more sebaceous glands than the lower half. This is the reason you don’t hear about people have leg acne very often.

Where on the body acne pops up also can be linked to different factors so keep reading!

TIP: Check out our comprehensive guide – how to get rid of acne!

What Causes Body Acne

The main cause of body acne is much the same as what causes facial acne, clogged pores or follicles. Pores become clogged by dead skin cells, increased oil production as well as bacteria and other debris.

Depending on the severity of the clog and the degree of infection, the acne may present itself in different ways.

One common type of body acne is called Acne Mechanica. Acne Mechanica is caused by friction or rubbing against the skin. This pressure can irritate follicles and further inflame any existing clogged pores. Some main culprits behind this type of breakout are sporting equipment, tight clothing as well as purse or backpack straps

Traditional Chinese medicine will link body breakouts to certain ailments such as digestive problems or allergies. Using a technique called body mapping, you use the location of breakouts to find an underlying source.

Another big body acne cause is increased sweating, especially during the summer months or after exercising.

How To Prevent Body Acne

Shower – best body acne prevention

As with facial acne, some people are more prone to breakouts than others. However, there are ways you can prevent body acne from forming.  Dive into our top nine tips on how to prevent body acne from starting.

  1. To best prevent body acne from starting, be sure to shower as soon as possible after exercise or other activities that leave you sweaty. The faster you can get the sweat off your body, the less likely you are to end up with clogged pores.
  2. Whenever possible, choose clothes made of natural fibers. When it comes to workout wear, wear fabrics that are specially designed to wick away sweat and moisture.
  3. Avoid excessive wearing of backpack or purse straps.
  4. Moisturize dry skin daily with lotions made with non-comedogenic formulas. These creams are specially designed not to clog pores.
  5. Avoid tight fitting clothes.
  6. Exfoliate gently once a week. By shedding layers of dead skin cells, you can avoid them clogging up pores and causing a breakout. Just remember to be gentle. Never harshly scrub at your skin as that will slough away healthy skin cells as well.
  7. When going outdoors, choose a sunscreen that is oil-free.
  8. Change your towels and sheets often. Bedding is one the leading, yet hidden causes of acne as bacteria and other germs can become trapped in the fibers while you sleep and redistribute them into your pores, causing acne.
  9. Avoid fabric softeners and highly fragranced detergents. Particularly for those with sensitive skin, fragranced products can irritate the skin, leaving it prone to infection and inflammation.

How To Treat Body Acne

Sometimes, despite our best preventative efforts, acne still rears its ugly head. When this happens, we look into body acne treatment.

Let’s dive into the ways we can get rid of body acne, based on the areas that are affected.

1. Back Acne

One of the best ways to beat back acne, for bacne, is to gently exfoliate and cleanse with a mild body wash containing salicylic acid. When used daily, the medicated body wash can help fight infection and inflammation while helping clear pores. Medicated body washes are ideal for whiteheads, blackheads and smaller types of inflammatory acne.

For larger or more stubborn acne, you can use 5% benzoyl peroxide serums to spot treat.

Watch the video how to get rid of back acne by a dermatologist

2. Chest Acne

Chest acne is quite common in the summer months due to increased sweat production. Women complain of chest acne more often than men.

Firstly, it’s important to never pick at or squeeze chest acne. The skin on the chest is thinner than other areas and heals much more poorly than other areas. Acne is bad enough; you don’t want scarring to boot.

Some may say the use of products containing retinol is very helpful with unclogging pores. However, if you are treating summertime chest acne with retinol it’s vital you vigilantly use sunscreen as retinol leaves your skin more sensitive to the sun.

3. Neck Acne

As with back acne, neck acne is best treated using a body wash (NOT a face wash) that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Many have also seen significant benefits from facials targeting acne on the neck area. These specialty facials use bacteria-fighting serums that deeply penetrate the skin for optimal results.

4. Shoulder Acne

Shoulder acne is most commonly attributed to the extended use or wearing of straps, so the first step is to avoid that wherever possible.

Additionally, acne on the shoulders tends to be smaller. Using spot treatments containing benzoyl peroxide may be your best course of action.

5. Butt Acne

As embarrassing as it sounds, this type of body acne is among the most common. Exacerbated by wearing tight underwear and pants, acne on your hindquarters often will clear up faster when you opt for looser fitting clothes.

Gently exfoliate the area weekly and use an antibacterial cleanser to help clear up breakouts on your bum.

If any breakouts seem particularly large or painful, it’s suggested you see a medical professional as it could be something more complicated such as carbuncles or folliculitis.

Folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicles, can be caused by bacteria, yeast or even fungus. At times it can clear up on its own or be treated by a dermatologist. Carbuncles are most similar to cystic acne and require a course of oral antibiotics

VIDEO: 5 tips that will help you get rid of body acne for good

The Takeaway

Body acne can happen to anyone. The best way to stop body acne in its track is to use preventative measures.

Loose fitting clothing made of natural fibers or fabrics that wicks moisture are also excellent ways to ward off body acne.

Even with preventative measures, sometimes stubborn body acne can rear its head. Some of the most effective treatments for body acne are body washes containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Spot treatment with the same composition also aid in the clearing up spots fast. If you choose treatment containing retinol, be sure to have plenty of oil-free sunscreen on hand.

If summertime body acne has you down, remember two things. 

1.The chlorine found in pools is known to dry out skin, leaving it acne prone. Regular exfoliation and moisturizing will certainly stop dry skin from turning into an acne breakout.

2.Especially in the warmer months, be sure to get any excess sweat off your body as soon as possible. If a shower is not an option, opt for a gentle makeup remover wipe until you can lather up.

Have you ever dealt with body acne? If so, what worked best in helping treat or prevent it? Let us know in the comment section below!