Acne on the Body
Although acne breakouts most commonly occur on the face, they can occur anywhere on the body, including the back, legs, arms, buttocks and chest. If you have body acne, it's helpful to know what causes it, how to treat it and how to prevent it from returning.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, acne occurs most often when excessive sebum (oil produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin) and dead skin cells clog the pores. The Center says areas besides the face that are prone to acne are the chest, upper back, shoulders and neck. Acne frequently occurs in people who are experiencing hormonal surges, for example in puberty and during menstruation and pregnancy. Body acne can continue throughout adulthood and can seem resistant to many acne treatments.
Body acne can be treated in a number of ways, including application of over-the-counter products, natural remedies and prescription-strength pharmaceutical creams. Over-the-counter acne products include benzoyl peroxide cream, salicylic acid gel and astringent toners. Natural acne remedies include tea tree essential oil, calamine lotion, baking soda and lemon juice. Prescription-strength pharmaceuticals include retinoid creams and strong antibiotics, available only from a doctor or licensed dermatologist. Sometimes body acne can be more stubborn than facial acne and may require the stronger acne treatments.
To prevent body acne, people should avoid wearing tight clothing that could press skin oils, sebum and dead skin cells into the pores. They should exfoliate the skin daily using a bath loofah, which will remove dead skin cells that could clog pores.
Body acne can clear more quickly with the use of the stronger acne treatments such as retonoid creams or antibiotics. But these powerful acne fighters can also cause side effects that should be monitored by a dermatologist or doctor, such as redness, burning and yeast overgrowth. Over-the-counter treatments are the second most effective form of treatment, sometimes working within a few days. It can be weeks before natural treatments fully clear body acne, but these do not cause skin irritation as over-the-counter treatments can.
People using chemical acne treatments should avoid applying them close to the genital area, where the skin is thinner and thus more prone to irritation and inflammation. An acne treatment should be discontinued if it causes severe redness or burning. If body acne does not resolve with home treatments, people should check with a doctor or dermatologist. Acne can be a symptom of an underlying illness or medical condition.
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