Those who have acne will know that the pesky little whiteheads, cystic spot eruptions and blackheads aren’t usually contained to your face.
From bacne (acne on your back) to buttne (acne on your backside – yep, it’s a thing) body spots can be pretty rubbish to deal with. Even worse? When the warm weather makes an appearance, your playsuits come out of hibernation and suddenly you’re showing off a little more flesh than usual.
But how do you get rid of back acne??
As debilitating as body acne can be (we feel you), you don’t have to swerve plans or cover up completely, because ELLE has enlisted one of the best dermatologists in the business to help banish the breakouts once and for all. Here’s how to get rid of back acne or body acne once and for all.
How To Get Rid Of Back Acne
1. Swap Out Your Current Body Wash
That ultra-creamy, coconut-scented shower gel may feel seriously luxe, but if it doesn’t contain zit-zapping ingredients such as salicylic acid (a BHA that exfoliates the skin’s surface layer and unblocks pores of sebum and dead skin), glycolic acid (an AHA that dissolves the upper layer of dead skin cells to prevent spots and to blur red marks left behind by acne), and lactic acid (also an AHA with the same skin-smoothing, spot-preventing credentials as glycolic acid, just a little gentler on skin), then it might not be doing your body acne any good.
‘Acids like these prevent dead skin cells from building up and blocking your pores,’ explains London-based consultant dermatologist, Dr. Justine Kluk. ‘And remember, cleanse your skin thoroughly in the shower every day.’
Alpha hydroxy acids in this foaming shower gel chip away at the mixture of dead skin cells and sebum responsible for spots. It’s absolutely brilliant at clearing up breakouts on the back, chest, shoulders and arms and doesn’t dry skin out.
2. Shower Immediately After A Workout
‘The bacteria responsible for causing acne thrive on sweaty skin,’ explains Dr. Kluk. ‘It’s important to remove your gym clothes and shower as soon as possible after a workout.’
That means no sitting on the end of your bed, scrolling through Instagram, trying to muster up the energy to jump in. We’re talking ASAP, people.
3. Use A Scrub Pre-Shower
‘If you get lots of under the skin spots or blackheads, using a scrub a couple of times a week in the shower may be effective,’ advises Dr. Kluk. ‘But, always be gentle and don’t rub your skin raw as this can increase inflammation.’ Not cute.
This expert-approved scrub combines chemical exfoliators (such as lactic acid) with physical exfoliators (micro-dermabrasion granules) to deliver a double-pronged attack on the oil, dead skin and grime that can cause breakouts. Massage gently into damp skin before showering.
4. Choose The Right Body Moisturiser
You don’t have to give up the moisturiser to keep breakouts at arms length – just make sure you choose the right one – that means ditching the unctuous, oily creams.
‘Applying a moisturiser will soothe and repair your skin barrier, but make sure that any products you leave on your skin are labelled ‘non-comedogenic,’ advises Dr. Kluk. ‘This means that they won’t clog your pores.’
Non-comedogenic (which means it won’t clog your pores) and hypoallergenic (making it perfect for those with sensitive skin), this silky, ultra-light, fragrance-free lotion absorbs in seconds and leaves skin feeling insanely smooth and hydrated, and it’s all down to a duo of cell-building ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid. We love.
A daily slathering of this dermatologist-approved lotion works wonders to banish spots on limbs, shoulders and chest thanks to the AHAs. It also blasts ingrown hairs and keratosis pilaris, AKA chicken skin – our arms have never felt smoother.
5. Use A Topical Treatment Instead Of Picking
As tempting as it may be to pretend you’re Dr. Pimple Popper, try and avoid picking when it comes to body acne.
‘Whatever you do, don’t pick, squeeze or scratch your spots,’ says Dr. Kluk. ‘This can introduce infection and lead to scarring. Instead, apply a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid gel to juicy spots.’
You can buy benzoyl peroxide creams, such as Acnecide and Duac, over the counter. They kill bacteria that leads to acne, but do have a tendency to dry the skin out. If that puts you off…
This gel cools raging spots and redness without making skin feel taut, uncomfortable or turning it flaky and chalky. A dab is all you need, just be sure to wait for it to dry before pulling your clothes on.
Formulated for your legs, chest, shoulders and back as well as your face, this cooling gel-toner harnesses both glycolic and salicylic acid to calm inflammation and redness, turf sebum and dead cells out of pores and to exfoliate the top layer of skin for better clarity.
6. Carry Spare Clothing
We know that excessive sweat and bacteria can lead to blocked pores, especially bacne, so, Dr. Kluk suggests carrying a spare, clean top with you if you tend to perspire more in warmer weather.
‘It’s also best to wash underwear, like your bra, after every wear,’ she adds.
7. Visit A Dermatologist
‘If you’ve tried all of these things and are still struggling to get on top of your breakouts or are aware of developing scars, see a dermatologist who can advise you on prescription treatment,’ advises Dr. Kluk.
Oral prescriptions are a great option and include: Spironolactone, which has anti-androgen effects to block male hormone testosterone and excessive oil production in female acne sufferers and Isotretinoin AKA Roaccutane – a vitamin A-derived oral medication, which suppresses excess oil production, kills acne bacteria and helps shed dead skin cells, preventing blocked pores.
13 Of The Most Effective Face Masks For Acne
Formulated using natural pink mineral clay this soothing mask helps reduce irritation, swelling and redness. In other words, it’s your one stop shop for when your face is feeling a little bit angry.
It might look terrifying but this genius LED mask recreates Dr. Dennis Gross’ famous facials from the comfort of your own home. A combination of over 150 blue and red LED lights targets acne causing bacteria (blue) and stimulates the natural production of collagen (red). The result? A smoother, more radiant complexion.
Charcoal acts like a magnet, binding itself to bacteria and oil before it has a chance to play havoc with your complexion – and this mask is bursting with it. The suggested treatment time is 45 minutes (great if you love a good pamper sesh, not so if you’re in a rush) but even fifteen is enough to spot a visible difference. It transforms from a powder into a satisfying airy whip to minimise pores and draw a veil over blotchiness. Clever.
If you feel like your face might crack every time you slather on a clay mask, swap your current go-to out for this one. The added chamomile is incredibly soothing on sore and inflamed skin and works a treat to neutralise redness, so you can ditch the colour corrector completely.
Congested skin calls for an army of both AHAs and BHAs which makes this mask a must-have. The exfoliating properties leave skin softer and looking much clearer while monolaurin controls excessive sebum production – a factor that can lead to blocked pores in the first place. Take it from us, you need it.
A clever trio of niacinamide (anti-inflammatory), salicylic acid (brilliantly exfoliating) and tea tree (bacteria-destroying) in Dr. Jart’s super-fine sheet mask will send spots, redness and pigmentation packing. Just remember to tap the remaining serum into your skin to see the full benefits.
Combined, glycolic and salicylic make GLAMGLOW’s Supermud Mask the ultimate blemish-buster. Used bi-weekly, it has the clever knack of making skin feel and look brand new, but the best part is that it doesn’t completely dry your face out. Into it.
La Roche-Posay’s whole Effaclar range is the holy grail for those prone to breakouts and sensitivity – and this mask is just as fantastic. Argilla mops up excess oil from the skin’s surface while kaolin extracts it from the deeper layers to keep spots at bay. Skin feels squeaky clean but not tight and uncomfortable – no wonder dermatologists everywhere recommend it.
This does exactly what it says on the tub and then some: calms swelling, cools any sore, angry clusters and cancels out raging redness. It contains kaolin clay to draw out deep-seated grime but instead of leaving skin taut, it feels so pampered afterwards. Er, who needs a facial?
This is pretty impressive stuff! A light layer has the ability to blur enlarged pores into oblivion (trust us, it works) and you can almost feel it sopping up excess oil. Added Vitamin E and Allantoin ensure your skin stays soft and hydrated, so you can say see-ya to any parched patches.
Where was this mask when we were in our teens? 2% salicylic acid chips away at the almost paste-like mixture of sebum and dead skin cells that can lead to blocked pores (bye, blackheads) while aloe vera softens and soothes. It’s one of the gentlest out there.
Sensitive skin? You need this, ASAP. It’s super-light but filled to bursting with skin-friendly acids which refine bumpy skin texture (take that, under-the-skin forehead spots) and give pores a seriously deep clean. We’re awarding it extra credit for not sucking skin dry.
Don’t let the mossy green hue or the thick texture put you off! This is tough on all kinds of breakouts from tiny forehead bumps to massive chin eruptions and it’s all thanks to the megamix of honey, bentonite, probiotics and lactic acid, which work to control oil, bacteria and slough off dead skin cells.
This article originally appeared on ELLE UK.