Banish body acne with dermatologist-approved ways to get rid of body acne using your at-home skin care routine.
Body acne involves pimples and blackheads on the chest and back. The upper arms and neck can also develop acne. The acne lesions can leave superficial hyperpigmented marks (called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) and lasting scars. In the worst case, cysts and deep scars can develop.
This type of acne is often called Bacne and it's important to treat it before it leaves scars and brown marks that can be hard to get rid of. - Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey
What causes body acne?
The two most common causes of body acne are
- Acne vulgaris
- Pityrosporum folliculitis
There are two other causes of pimples on the body:
- Pustules can occur on the buttocks and are typically due to a combination of sweat and friction.
- Pimple-like pustules on the arm and thigh skin are most commonly due to keratosis pilaris.
We call these sorts of pimples folliculitis. The good news is that treatment for pimples from all these causes of body acne overlaps. (It is also possible to have pimples due to skin infections such as Staph bacteria. Infectious folliculitis should be evaluated and treated by a doctor.)
Dermatologist's top products and tips to treat Bacne and body acne once and for all.
I created my Back Acne Kit to address the common causes of pimples on the body. This is how I successfully treat body acne in my dermatology practice.
My Back Acne Kit is a simple skin care routine that you do in the shower and includes two medicated cleansers and a shower cloth. I describe below what makes these two cleansers uniquely effective at fighting body acne.
Clear up your body acne before your activities have you wearing skin baring clothing. Prevent scarring by treating acne early and effectively.
Why do you get body acne?
Acne on the back and chest is caused by,
Acne vulgaris, the most common type of acne.
- It often starts in the teenage years and lasts until early adulthood
- P. acnes bacteria (now called C. acnes) plays a role in this type of acne.
- Skin lesions include blackheads, pimples and cysts.
- Acne lesions can scar, and scars from cyst can be quite large.
Pityrosporum folliculitis can cause body acne alone or it can be present together with acne vulgaris.
This type of acne can start in the early teens and last well into adulthood. It can even persist into the middle age years!
- It is caused by a yeast called Pityrosporum. Another name for this yeast is Malassezia. Some people call this 'fungal' acne even though the germ is a technically a yeast.
- The C. acnes bacteria seems to work together with the yeast to cause the acne.
- This type of acne causes bright red pustules that both itch and hurt. They heal by leaving brown discoloration that persists long after the pimples have gone away. They can also heal leaving white scars.
- Pustules often extend down the back to the waist. The scalp and neck can be involved too.
- Many clogged pores leave tiny flesh-colored bumps on the skin that heal with white scars.
What is the best treatment for back and body acne?
Both types of body acne require treatment to reduce the C. acnes bacteria. Pityrosporum folliculitis also requires use of products that fight the Pityrosporum yeast germ. Both have activity against a broad range of germs. Neither are considered antibiotics.
The best medicated ingredients to fight the germs that cause body acne are,
Clogged pores and blackheads play a key role in both types of acne. They also play a role in pimples caused by keratosis pilaris and frictional buttocks folliculitis. Treatment requires keratolytic skin care products.
What are keratolytics and how do they work to treat body acne?
Keratolytics are ingredients that dissolve the connections between dead cells so that they can desquamate (fall off). This treats blackheads and clogged pores by allowing the plugs of dead cells and debris to dissolve.
The best keratolytics to treat clogged pores and blackheads from body acne are,
There are three important considerations for treating body and back acne
Using exfoliating shower cloths, sponges and scrubs help these germ fighting ingredients and keratolytics to better penetrate skin to heal acne fast.
- The best way to deliver acne fighting ingredients to the large expanse of skin involved with body acne is by using medicated cleansers that leave a residue of active ingredients on the skin after you rinse them off in the shower.
- You need strong products to penetrate the thick and tough skin on the chest and back.
Dermatologist's professional products to heal body acne fast.
Pyrithione zinc fortified cleansers for body acne:
Foaming Zinc ™ Cleanser and Calming Zinc ™ Bar Soap both contain 2% pyrithione zinc, the highest concentration allowed. This ingredient has been shown to fight the Pityrosporum yeast, which also plays a role in dandruff and tinea versicolor (another skin problem caused by the same yeast germ). My preferred pyrithione zinc product for use on the body is Foaming Zinc because it foams and spreads so nicely, including on to hairy skin.
Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cleanser is the ideal body acne ingredient to kill C. acnes because it is made with a full 10% benzoyl peroxide, the highest concentration of this ingredient allowed.
My Back and Body Acne Kit gives you my Foaming Zinc ™ Cleanser with Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Cleanser and a Salux shower cloth. You can't get better Bacne treatment!
If you are allergic to benzoyl peroxide (it is rare but possible), you can use the Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser Extra Strength alternating with Foaming Zinc and applied with a Salux Cloth. It is made with 2% salicylic acid, the highest concentration of this ingredient allowed. It also contains 10% glycolic acid.
What do I recommend if you also want a simple routine to clear facial acne along with treating your body acne?
How do you treat scalp pimples?
Use Foaming Zinc Cleanser and a Scalp Scrubber to wash your hair. Be sure to get the cleanser down onto your scalp skin and help it penetrate by massaging with the Scrubber. Leave it on for 5 minutes then rinse it off.
Is there anything else that will help heal pustules from keratosis pilaris, or pimples on the skin of the buttocks?
Here the main problem is keratin plugs in the pores that then form a white head behind the plug. The key here is to get the plugs out of the pores. I recommend alternating my Back Acne cleansers with the Triple Action Cleanser in my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Kit and applying the Glycolic Acid 15% Body Lotion after toweling skin dry.
- The Triple Action Exfoliating Cleanser has a combination of .5% salicylic acid, 10% glycolic acid and rolled eco-friendly beads. It is also a great facial cleanser and my personal favorite to brighten my complexion.
- The Glycolic Acid Lotion will help to soften the keratin plugs in the pores that are the cause of keratosis pilaris and that become inflamed from friction. You could get the Glycolic Acid Body Lotion alone. This Glycolic Acid Body Lotion is the key to soft and satiny body skin!
Both Kits come with a Salux shower cloth to speed results.
Sun protection is really important to prevent body acne scarring!
Sun will cause hyperpigmentation that lasts much longer than the pimples, and that can even be permanent. Keep the sun off your skin with clothing. For exposed skin, use a mineral zinc oxide sunscreen daily to prevent hyperpigmentation. The most popular daily wear sunscreen for body acne is my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+.
Let me Give You One More Product Option for a Dermatologist-Approved Way to Get Rid of Face and Body Acne Together
I include the Sheer Strength SPF 50+ Spray in my Pityrosporum Folliculitis Kit that is ideal for facial acne caused by both Pityrosporum folliculitis and acne vulgaris. This Kit can also be customized to treat body acne.
In this kit you get my salicylic acid and glycolic acid Acne Treatment Cleanser to alternate with Calming Zinc. I include my Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% Cream and the perfect Daily Face Cream for acne prone skin. You can add the Body Acne Kit. It's one 'turn key' Complete Skin Care Kit to treat acne vulgaris and Pityrosporum folliculitis on the face, body, back, chest and scalp!