While acne is typically considered a face frustration, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t experienced a pimple or two — or dozens — somewhere south of the neck. Clothing may make body breakouts easier to conceal, but they’re no less frustrating than a chin or cheek zit, especially since anywhere we have pores and hair follicles on our bodies can be susceptible to sebum-clogged bumps, which means we can experience breakouts on our butts, chests, arms, and, of course, our backs.
“Back acne is the inconvenient and unfortunate cycle of clogged pores, inflammation, and poor skin turnover resulting in acne on the back,” says Texas-based dermatologist Heidi Prather, who explains that it can appear as small blackheads, inflammatory pustules, or sometimes deep, tender cystic lesions.
Luckily, body acne is both preventable and treatable, and Prather encourages her patients to try to identify anything that might be triggering outbreaks. “Hair products such as conditioners or leave-in products that contain silicones and oils can leave a residue on your skin, resulting in clogged pores and acne,” Prather tells Allure. “Screen your products for ingredients that are known to be comedogenic, and when getting a massage, opt for lighter lotions in place of heavy creams and massage oils that can exacerbate acne.”
If the steps you’ve taken to prevent body breakouts haven’t left you with clear skin, there are plenty of over-the-counter products that dermatologists love for helping to heal outbreaks, and you’ll find their favorites below. Many are the same products that do wonders on facial skin, but not every product made for the face is the right pick for broken-out body skin.
“Keep in mind that, although our back skin seems tough, it cannot handle the same acne treatment routines we use on our face. It is important to avoid being overly aggressive with acne treatments on the back to prevent irritation,” Prather says. But ultimately, if one of the products below isn’t making the difference you’re hoping to achieve, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist, who can evaluate your skin and create a personalized treatment plan.
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