8 dermatologist-approved ways to get rid of body acne
From bacne to buttne (yep, it's a thing) here's how to banish spots on your body this summer
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 acne 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 and you’d rather not be stressing about covering up all those little bumps.
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.
How to get rid of body acne
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.'
- Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap, £8
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.
'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.
And if your workout has run over and you have literally 10 minutes to get back to the office, ELLE recommends giving your body a once-over with Mio's Clean Slate Workout Wipes, £21, until you have time to wash properly. In handy little sachets, they include tea tree and lactic acid to keep sweat-induced breakouts at bay.
'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.
- Ameliorate Skin Smoothing Body Polish, £17.50
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.
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.'
- CeraVe Moisturising Lotion, £9
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.
- Ameliorate Tranforming Body Lotion, £22.50
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.
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...
- Malin + Goetz Salicylic Acid Gel, £19
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.
- DCL Alpha Beta Gel Toner, £32
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.
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.
'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.
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From: ELLE USA