Body acne: What causes it? How do you treat it? Will it ever go away?
People with facial acne know what a blow it can be to self-esteem, but body acne can also be a serious issue when it comes to an individual’s self-image. It is very possible for someone without facial acne to have body acne, and it can lead to a reluctance to wear certain clothing, participate in activities like swimming or be available on the dating scene.
Body acne can be found most anywhere on the body, but is most commonly found on the chest, back, shoulders, and buttocks. Most experts believe the condition is tied into genetics, and the thick skin on the body often has large pores, making outbreaks noticeable and severe.
The only two places invulnerable to body acne, because of a lack of sebaceous follicles, are the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
Though genetics are likely involved, no one knows the exact cause for body acne. What experts do know is body acne is easily aggravated by contact with damp, sweaty clothing.
What are the best ways to minimize body acne?
There is no way to eliminate irritation along the body completely, but wearing cotton clothing, showering after workouts and being aware of potential irritants can help reduce flare-ups. Other ways to control body acne include:
- Wearing clothing made from fibers that wick moisture away from the skin
- Using non-comedogenic moisturizers or gentle ones designed for the face
- Applying a benzoyl peroxide product (which flushes follicles) to affected areas after showering
- Using an acne cleanser for skin on the entire body
- Carrying a handbag instead of a purse if the rubbing action causes acne
- Avoiding fabric softeners or any laundry additives which leave residue on clothes
Can body acne be cured?
Because body acne is considered to be influenced by genetics, there may never be a way to be completely free from breakouts. That being said, there are ways to effectively treat body acne; some people do see almost complete resolution, though it can’t be called a cure.
According to Derma Cleanse, treating body acne is not like treating facial acne. For acne on the face, the treatment steps are usually: clean, clear and then treat. For body acne, treating and then cleansing can sometimes make a huge difference.
- Treat first: For body acne, the application of a clay-based mask will allow excess oil to be absorbed while opening pores.
- Cleanse second: Once pores are open and the excess oil is removed, cleansers can more effectively penetrate the skin.
Some experts then recommend following the treat-cleanse method with the application of a topical product containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Both medications help reduce irritation and redness; however, benzoyl peroxide oxygenates the skin, making it an area inhospitable for acne bacteria. Salicylic acid helps break through layers of dead skin to deliver medication to trouble zones.
Both medications are effective against acne, but tolerance is different for each individual, and they should not be used together.
Prescription grade medications may also be used under the consultation of a dermatologist.
Support for body acne sufferers
The psychological effects of body acne are not dependent on the severity. People with mild cases can suffer as much emotionally as those with severe outbreaks.
There are three main areas of life affected by body acne, and all influenced by how body acne makes a person feel.
- Self-image: Self-image can suffer to a point where individuals avoid making eye contact with others; or grow long hair to cover up acne on the face or shoulders. This is the most important component to the psychological issues associated with body acne. Negative self-image issues can persist even if acne comes under control and can lead to bouts of depression.
- Social withdrawal: directly related to body image is that of social activity. Individuals who are not comfortable with their appearances around others will stop attending events they enjoy. Taunts from peers exacerbate this issue, and can lead to a lack of confidence in other areas of life.
- Professional life: In work or in school, people with body acne may limit themselves based on interaction with others. This can mean poor career choices, frequent sick days and a lack of success in job applications (due to lack of confidence).
For people suffering emotionally as well as physically from body acne, professional intervention may be required. Patients are often involved in group therapy, counseling, and are administered antidepressant medications.