Body acne is common in adults and teens, showing up mostly on the chest, back and buttocks. Like facial acne, stress and hormones can cause blemishes. However, other factors can induce acne lesions on the body.
Perspiration and tight-fitting clothing are two of the most common culprits, which explains why many physically active women are plagued by body acne. Tight-fitting clothing such as spandex traps perspiration against the skin, and it then mixes with surface oils. The result is a film that clogs pores and causes blemishes ranging from whiteheads to inflamed papules and pustules.
Treatments for body acne are similar to those for facial acne, but body acne tends to be more resistant to treatment because it is difficult to reach. Body skin is also thicker than facial skin, and the blemishes are constantly exposed to friction from clothing. To keep acne under control, wash daily with a salicylic-acid-based cleanser, and be sure to shower as soon as possible after perspiring. Wipe the area with a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid pad and follow with an alpha hydroxy acid-based body moisturizer if needed (it will help exfoliate skin while preventing it from drying out). Use a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide spot treatment on individual pimples at night.
Stubborn acne is usually treated with a topical retinoid such as Retin-A or a course of oral antibiotics such as tetracycline or minocycline. It will usually take anywhere from a week to a couple of months to see results. As a last resort, Accutane is used, though in higher dosages than for facial acne.
Reviewed: June 28, 2001