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How To Deal With Acne on Your Back, Chest & Body


Although there are several known treatments for facial acne, non-facial acne is less often talked about—but can be just as annoying to have. So we talked to Dr. Kenneth Mark, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at the NYU Department of Dermatology, and Peggy Hall, a wellness expert, to get the lowdown on dealing with non-facial acne. According to Mark, acne can pretty much form anywhere on the body except for your hands and feet. So it’s important to show your body the same care and love you give your face. Since the pores on your body are actually bigger than the ones on your face, it's way easier for them to get clogged, resulting in breakouts. With these tips for treating body acne, you'll have the clear, silky skin you've dreamed of in no time!

1. Use a body wash that contains acne-fighting ingredients

Salicylic acid, an acne-fighting ingredient, is one of the lifesavers for acne—whether it’s on your face or on your back. Mark recommends using body cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Using a body wash containing active acne-fighting ingredients on a regular basis can help reduce inflammation, treat and prevent breakouts, and unclog pores.

Try Neutrogena's Body Clear Body Wash ($6.99 at Neutrogena), which will help treats and even prevent breakouts on your body without overdrying or irritating your skin. Or, for more of a splurge, try Murad's Acne Body Wash ($40.00 at Sephora), which deep cleans and exfoliates to eliminate and prevent acne all over the body. 

2. Exfoliate 

Just like it’s important to exfoliate your face, it’s also important to show your body some scrub-love too. Exfoliating helps to scrub away dead skin cells and unblock pores and Mark tells us that “ALL acne starts with a clogged pore." The best thing you can do is prevent them from getting clogged in the first place. Just be careful not to over-exfoliate. Too much scrubbing can also irritate your skin, so only do it a few times a week.

There are a ton of great exfoliating body scrubs that are also gentle on your body. Try Clinique’s Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator ($26.50 at Clinique), which helps get rid of surface dryness, dullness, and leaves a buffed glow. For a more budget friendly option, try Softsoap's Body Butter Coconut Scrub Body Buff Wash ($2.97 at Walmart), which will exfoliate your dead skin while also moisturizing it. Scrub, scrub, scrub!

Related: Face Mapping: What Your Acne is Telling You

3. Keep your hair products off your skin

Your hair products might be helping your mane, but they could also be damaging your skin. Shampoos with sulfates can actually clog the pores on your body. 

To fix this, try tilting your head away from your body when washing your hair so that the product’s residue doesn’t get on your face, chest, and back. You can also quickly rinse your body again after you’re done washing your hair. Or, look for sulfate-free shampoos. The more organic you go, the better it is for your skin. 

4. Shower after your workouts

Mark advises to “to shower as quickly as possible after sweating and exercise [because] excessive sweating from working out can certainly clog pores and cause chest and back acne.” If you can’t get in a shower right after your workout, try wiping down your face, chest, and back down with facial wipes to get rid of the sweat and bacteria on your skin, decreasing your chance of clogging your pores and breaking out in the process.

 Try Acure Organics Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes ($6.99 at Target) to help you wipe away any makeup, dirt, sweat and environmental toxins.

5. Change your detergent 

Your skin can also have a bad reaction to your laundry detergent. “Detergents that come into contact with your skin could also contribute to acne flair ups on the chest and back,” says Hall. Some chemicals and fragrances in detergent are too harsh and lead to increased dryness. The chemicals from the detergent left on your clothes or sheets can irritate your skin, especially if you have sensitive or extremely dry skin. 

Find a detergent that is unscented, dye-free and dermatologist-recommended. Try Tide's Free and Gentle High Efficiency Liquid Laundry Detergent ($11.99 at Target), which is dermatologist-tested and doesn't contain any dyes or perfumes. 

6. De-stress

Since stress and hormones cause acne, take some time to relax and love yourself. “Fluctuating hormones (that cause facial acne) can also cause back and chest acne,” says Hall. “Stress can cause hormones to become even MORE crazy, so take time to relax, do things you enjoy,” she advises. Try to take some time in your day to relax and breathe. You can even look on YouTube for some guided meditation to help unwind.

7. See a doctor or dermatologist

If all else fails and the at-home treatments are not effective, try seeing a doctor or dermatologist. They will be able to look at your skin and decide the best treatment option for you. 

Make use of these tips and show your skin some love so you can say "buh-bye" to breakouts on your body in no time!

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