Forget Spots On Your Face, What About Body Acne?
The Debrief: The bastard that is bacne...and chacne...and nacne...
I’ve spoken about adult acne before, but that time was all about the face. This time around we’re talking body spots – when you somehow end up with spots scattered over your neck, your back (I know what you’re hearing in your head and I’m not going there) and your chest? Yep, that’s body spots and if you have a lot of them, in concentrated areas, you may well have body acne.
As if having your face plagued by them wasn’t enough, they go and decide to migrate down your body. Great. Here’s what those bastards are all about.
How do you know if you have them?
Time to state the obvious: they’re like spots… but on your body. Most likely on your upper chest and upper back because that’s where you have more sebaceous glands (these are the glands which produce oil in the skin). They might even be bigger and more painful than facial spots because these areas have more sebaceous glands than the face.
What causes them?
Spots on the body are caused by very similar things to the ones that spring up on your face: namely the overproduction of sebum (oil), bacteria and a build-up of dead skin cells. But why do some people get no spots on their face and a whole host of them on their body?
‘That’s down to the individual sensitivity of those particular glands in that area. So you get people who have nothing on their face, and dreadful spots on their chest or back,’ explains Dr Stephen Kownacki, the executive chair of the Primary Care Dermatology Society.
Sweating, although usually not a direct cause of body acne, can aggravate spots too, and could contribute to pores getting blocked. Other culprits are heavy, greasy, oil-based body moisturisers that can block pores and lead to spots.
How can they be avoided?
Wearing fabrics that keep the skin cool and dry will help with excess sweat, and if you’re working out, gym clothing that takes sweat away from the body rather than letting it sit on it will help. In general, choose natural, breathable fabrics, like cotton, rather than synthetic ones.
Washing as soon as possible after exercise will keep sweat build-up to a minimum, too. It’s also worth using a daily gentle anti-bacterial body wash to keep your skin clean and avoid your pores becoming blocked. The Body Shop Tea Tree Body Wash, £6, is great and really affordable. Origin Clear Improvement Purifying Charcoal Body Wash, £19, is another good option because it contains bamboo charcoal, a natural detoxifier which helps to draw out build-up from clogged pores.
Avoid using oil-based moisturisers, or body wash, because this will clog your pores. Instead, opt for something like Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion, £7.99, because it’s non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t block pores.
How can you deal with them?
Certain things can aggravate the spots, such as tight clothing and bag straps because they rub against them, so pick loose, airy clothing while you try to let the skin heal. Using a body wash containing salicylic acid, such as Korres Sensitive Sage and Salicylic Acid Regulating Gel, £13, will help fight spots by encouraging exfoliation and unclogging pores.
Avoid anything overly harsh or stripping though because, as we learnt before, this is counter-productive and will almost certainly make it worse.
‘One of the most effective things you can buy at Boots is benzoyl peroxide (BPO) but it is a bleach, so if you put black or navy blue or something on, it will give you white patches – that’s one of the disadvantages of it. Having said that, it’s an antiseptic not an antibiotic, so there’s no worry of resistance,’ explains Dr Kownacki. Try Acnecide 5% w/w gel, £9.98.
Whatever you do, don’t start squeezing and picking at them. ‘If you squeeze them and cause further inflammation, then you get more scarring,’ he warns.
If you think you could be suffering from body acne, don’t ignore it. See your GP asap, to receive treatment.
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