Acne treatment Acne treatment

Adult Body Acne

Adult Body Acne


Acne vulgaris is a condition where breakouts of pimples frequently occur. Acne usually occurs on the face, back, chest and neck due to the concentration of oil glands in these areas, but acne can be present on any part of the body. Mild to moderate body acne can be treated with over-the-counter products, while moderate to severe acne may require a prescription medication.


Acne is not caused by eating fried foods, stress or eating chocolate. Additionally, picking or squeezing pimples or washing your body more often will not get rid of body acne. Instead, the Mayo Clinic notes that acne is caused by an overproduction of oil, or sebum, on the skin, and the buildup of bacteria. The Mayo Clinic suggests treating acne with one of several active ingredients, either over-the-counter or prescribed by a dermatologist.


Types of acne that may appear on the body include blackheads, which are open hair follicles clogged with dead skin that may look like a black speck; whiteheads, which are clogged hair follicles underneath the skin; papules, which are inflamed hair follicles; cysts, which are painful and pus-filled pimples under the skin's surface; nodules, which are painful lumps underneath the skin that are not filled with pus; and pustules, which are red pimples filled with pus.


Body acne can be controlled by washing the afflicted areas of the body in the shower with a medicated body wash. Effective over-the-counter active ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, lactic acid, resourcinol, salicylic acid or sulfur. For moderate to severe acne, a dermatologist may prescribe adapalene, tazarotene, tretinoin or benzoyl peroxide-combination medications, like benzoyl peroxide and antibotics, or benzoyl peroxide and erythromycin, states the Mayo Clinic. The most severe acne is treated with oral antibiotics or isotretinoin.


Both prescription and over-the-counter body acne treatments are designed to kill bacteria, wash away dead skin and dry up the overproduction of oil on the body. Side effects of topical medications may include redness, flaking of the skin, dryness of the skin and painful scaling. Side effects of isotretinoin are more severe, and may include depression and suicidal thoughts. Individuals on isotretinoin should be monitored carefully by a doctor to watch for signs of depression.

Expert Insight

It may take up to a month for side effects, like dryness and scaling to subside, notes the Mayo Clinic. Dermatologists may start on a low dose first and gradually build up to the most effective dose to prevent side effects. Additionally, patients may be advised to wash off the medication after a short period of time, rather than leaving it on the entire day, which may prevent some irritation of the skin.

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