If you have body acne (sometimes called "Bacne"), you should know it's common. If you're bummed about it, we're here to help! There are many ways you can take first to avoid bacne, and then, if you do have it, to get rid of it.
Body acne versus folliculitis
There are two main types of acne-like pimples on the body. The first is regular acne, which resembles facial acne. This acne starts with a build-up of sebum and dead skin cells in the skin oil glands (sebaceous glands). The growth of acne bacteria in these enlarged and clogged pores triggers the skin's immune response and the typical acne blemishes.
Folliculitis is the second cause of acne-like pimples on the body. You do not need to have acne-prone skin to have folliculitis. Folliculitis, aka; inflammation of the hair follicles, can happen in everybody. It usually looks like tiny red pimples without blackheads, whiteheads, or big red cysts typical of regular body acne.
Body acne is most common on the back and the chest. The small red bumps on your butt and legs are probably folliculitis, a hair follicle infection - not real acne. The same is true for bumps on the bikini line: either razor bumps from shaving or folliculitis caused by shaving or waxing.
What are the different types of folliculitis?
- Bacterial folliculitis. Itchy, white, small pus-filled bumps are the typical lesions of bacterial folliculitis. This folliculitis occurs when hair follicles become infected with bacteria, usually Staphylococcus aureus (staph). Staph bacteria live on the skin all the time. But they generally cause problems only when they enter the skin when the skin's upper layer is damaged. This can happen when one has a cut or burn on the skin or when the skin is rubbed against tight clothing, a sports bra, or a backpack.
- Pseudomonas folliculitis, aka hot tub folliculitis. Pseudomonas folliculitis will appear as a rash of red, round, itchy bumps one to two days after exposure to the bacteria that causes it. Pseudomonas bacteria cause hot tub folliculitis in many places, including hot tubs and heated pools where chlorine and pH levels aren't well-regulated.
- Pseudofolliculitis barbae, aka razor bumps, is a skin irritation caused by ingrown hairs. It mainly affects men with curly hair who shave too close and is most noticeable on the face and neck. People who get bikini waxes may develop barber's itch in the groin area. This condition may leave dark, raised scars (keloids).
- Pityrosporum folliculitis, aka; body fungal acne. This type produces chronic, red, itchy pimples on the back and chest and sometimes on the neck, shoulders, and upper arms. Like fungal acne on the face, Pityrosporum folliculitis on the body is caused by a yeast infection. (Pytirospuron ovale, also called Malassezia furfur).
What are the different types of body acne?
Back acne or "bacne."
Acne on the back looks very similar to acne on the face. It can include only whiteheads and blackheads or be more severe with red papules, pustules, or deep inflammatory cysts.
The primary cause of body acne is a familial tendency and hormonal changes. Acne breakouts on the body are frequently triggered by humidity, sweat, and skin friction. If you're sitting for long periods a day (Like at school or at your desk), the heat, sweat, and friction can cause pimples. One way to reduce these pimples is to find a chair where the lower back area's ventilated to help your skin breathe. Heat, sweat, and friction during sports can cause pimples. If you are doing many sports, beware of showering and switching to fresh, clean clothes once you finish your activity. Chest acne
Acne breakouts on your chest have the exact causes as those on the back and the face. Chest acne will be caused by genetic and hormonal factors and clothes rubbing. One common cause for chest and shoulder acne in women is tight sports bras that cause the typical zits and other blemishes that one can have on the chest—more info on chest acne.
Butt "acne," leg "acne," and Bikini line "acne."
These three types of acne are actually types of folliculitis. The small red pimples of folliculitis are usually smaller and will not include the same amount of sebum as regular acne pimples. The common causes of folliculitis on the butt, legs, and bikini line include razor burn, hot tub rash, and friction with tight clothing.
Although some factors make certain people more susceptible to developing folliculitis, it's relatively easy to get rid of. If you can track down what caused your case, all you need to do is remove that activity. Ensure your skin is clean by rinsing sweat soon after you work out, and opt for looser clothing if repetitive rubbing is the cause. Using a sharp, clean razor and shaving in the direction the hair grows may prevent future folliculitis cases if hair removal is a frequent cause of your bumps. Applying warm compresses 3–4 times a day for 15–20 minutes may help heal your bumps faster. More info on butt acne.
If your body acne appears around the bikini line, you're either dealing with folliculitis or ingrown hairs. Waxing may cause folliculitis, while shaving is a common culprit for ingrown hairs in this area. If you're treating these bumps, avoid using harsh exfoliants on this sensitive skin. Shaving in a way recommended by dermatologists may help prevent bumps in the future, and warm compresses may speed the healing of existing blemishes. This includes using an acne-prone skin shaving cream instead of gel or foam, using your razor in the same direction that the hair grows, and rinsing your razor after every swipe. Although it's an investment, laser hair removal may be the best way to prevent future bumps while keeping the skin along your bikini line.
How can I prevent body acne?
- Whenever you're working out, try to avoid wearing tight clothes — those keep the sweat in and rub against your skin.
- Wear workout clothes that wick away the sweat and keep your body cool.
- Always shower at least once daily, immediately after breaking a sweat.
- Staying in your sweaty clothes can irritate the skin and trigger body acne and folliculitis, the name for infected hair follicles.
- Make sure to pay attention to your bedding. Change your sheets once a week (And while you're doing laundry, change your pillowcases at least once, if not twice, a week, too!)
- Speaking of laundry, make sure you're always on top of washing your clothes. Items like your hoodies can harbor dirt and bacteria. Even if you only wear a hoodie for a short period, wash it — you don't want any bacteria from it to transfer onto your skin!
How do I get rid of acne on my shoulders?
Acne on the shoulders can be caused by straps of your handbag or backpack rubbing on your skin. (try to avoid any friction in this area).
What are the best treatments for body acne?
Once you take care of the causes of body acne and body folliculitis (listed above), it's time for treatment. The best treatment will include a medicated cleanser and leave-on anti-acne medications you would apply for body acne areas at night. The acne's primary treatment on the body will consist of and body acne cleanser with salicylic acid and a body acne treatment cream with benzoyl peroxide. In severe cases, one would need to add to the topical oral treatment of antibiotics (minocycline, tetracycline, doxycycline, sarecycline) or Accutane (isotretinoin).
What are the best cleansers for body acne?
The best cleanser for body acne will do five things: Unclog your skin pores, kill bacteria, kill fungi, reduce inflammation (redness), and help fade post-acne dark spots. People with dry skin can use the best body cleansers for body acne over during or irritation. The best active ingredient to look for in the perfect body acne cleanser will be salicylic acid 2% (unclog pores, antibacterial, and antifungal and reduces inflammation). Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), benefits all skin types. An excellent example of such a cleanser is the MDacne body cleanser. It includes, in addition to salicylic acid, a unique combination of plant extracts that can hydrate and soothe the skin, help fade dark spots, even skin tone, and boost the skin's natural healing.
Fungal acne on the body is caused by a normal fungus that lives on the skin. This kind of acne treatment will include a combination of the silica acid acne cleanser, benzoyl peroxide treatment cream, and ketoconazole shampoo (Nizoral shampoo). For best results, one should use the antifungal ketoconazole shampoo on the body 2-3 times a week.
What are the best topical creams for the treatment of body acne?
Like face acne, the best "leave on" treatment cream for body acne on the back, chest, and buttocks is creams with micronized benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide Is a potent antibacterial that unclogs pores and reduces inflammation.
A few natural ingredients can work together with benzoyl peroxide and enhance the efficacy of benzoyl peroxide. The best natural ingredients that can help with body acne are tea tree oil, green tea extract, licorice extract, cucumber extract, and Vitamin E.
Tea tree oil is a potent antimicrobial and antifungal with proven medical-grade efficacy for acne. Green tea extract, licorice extract, and vitamin E are potent antioxidants that can help prevent and fade brown spots. Vitamin C Helps lighten pigmentation, even skin tone, and boost the skin's natural healing.
How to use your body acne treatment?
- Every night (and or morning), shower your body with the MDacne body cleanser.
- After the shower, pat dry your skin and apply a thin layer of your body acne treatment cream to the body's areas affected by acne.
- For the back, use half of your index finger length of the cream, and for the chest, a quarter of your index finger length.
- Do not apply your body acne treatment cream to your face, the sensitive skin of your neck, or genital areas.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after you apply the cream.
- Touching sensitive skin areas by mistake can cause skin irritation.
- Leave your body acne treatment on the skin to dry for 3-4 minutes before you dress.
- Be mindful that your body acne treatment cream can bleach colored clothing.
- Consider wearing a white T-shirt to bed after application.
- Avoid spot treatments. You should apply your body acne night treatment ream on the whole area with pimples for best results. This will help heal the current zits and help prevent future blemishes.
What are the best food supplements for people with body acne?
Vitamins B5 and A and zinc and selenium minerals are believed to be the best acne-fighting oral supplements. Research shows that Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) Increases skin oil breakdown, reducing overall oil and sebum production. Vitamin A encourages the shedding of the dead skin cells that build inside the pore and ultimately cause acne. It reduces sebum production and helps in the creation of healthy collagen. Zinc, Has well-known anti-inflammatory properties and inhibits acne-causing bacteria's growth, and selenium is an essential antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Other vitamins that can support topical treatment for body acne are Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), and the mineral chromium.
Ana excellent example of supplements specially formulated for people with acne is MDacne's Skin Clearing Vitamins + Minerals.
- Complements topical acne treatment by working from within, reducing oil production, and promoting the shedding of dead skin cells.
- Dermatologist-formulated and approved, these oral supplements assist in skin renewal and reduce redness for a revitalized complexion.
- Vegan, cruelty-free, non-GMO.
- Key ingredients include Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin B5, and Selenium, targeting acne-causing factors and inflammation.
- Additional vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, and Chromium are believed to boost immune function, combat bacteria and fungi, and balance blood sugar levels for regulated sebum production.
- Coenzyme Q10 lightens spots, aids in skin cell regeneration, and decreases blemishes and redness.
What not to do when you have body acne?
- Benzoyl peroxide leave-on creams are the best treatment for body acne; avoid benzoyl peroxide face and body washes. For benzoyl peroxide to do the work, it should be applied to the skin for at least 6 hours and penetrate the skin pores. The benzoyl peroxide in benzoyl peroxide washes has the time to penetrate the skin pores and is not very useful for acne. On the other hand, it will stay on the surface and may irritate your skin (Not good)
- Do not use an exfoliating loofah or rough waging clothes on your skin.
- Rubbing and friction are the worst you can do for your body's acne. It will damage the skin's protective layer and probably worsen your body's acne. The same is true for rough scrubs and electric cleansing brushes.
- Are you using body lotion? Look for a Non-comedogenic moisturizer that will not clog your skin pores and not cause more acne breakouts. Do not exfoliate your skin. Using harsh scrubs or electronic brushes on the body can damage the skin's natural protective barrier and cause more acne breakouts.
When will I see improvement in my body acne?
Body acne can be stubborn. You need to be patient. As with other acne treatments, we expect to see some improvement in the skin and optimal results by 10-12 weeks after four weeks.
- A 10% glycolic acid containing oil‐in‐water emulsion improves mild acne: A randomized, double‐blind placebo‐controlled trial. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 10(3), 202-209.
- Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A Review. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 5(5), 32-40.
- Management of Truncal Acne Vulgaris: Current Perspectives on Treatment. Drug Therapy Topics, 77, 285-289.
- Treatment Modalities for Acne. Molecules, 21(8), 1063.
- Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy Of Dermatology, 74(5), 945-973.e33.
To find the right acne treatments for your unique skin, take the free skin assessment by clicking here.