An irrefutable fact of life: Where there is skin, there are pores. And where there are pores, there’s always the possibility of pore blockage, which means acne could develop. You may expect that on your face and take appropriate preventative measures, but what about the skin below your neck? Breakouts can appear there as well, and summer—the time when you’re typically showing the most skin—is also the season that can make body blemishes more likely to occur. But with a solid game plan, keeping body skin clear all year is simple.
What is body acne or "Bacne"?
Body acne is pretty much any acne that’s not on your face. It often develops on the back, chest, and shoulders because there are more sebaceous glands in those areas. But anyone who’s googled “buttne” knows that the top half of the body isn’t the only place you’ll find pimples.
What causes body acne?
Roughly nine times out of 10, acne comes from a clogged pore. But it can also result from oil overproduction, P. acnes bacteria, hormonal imbalances, or genetic predisposition. There’s even a specific type of acne, acne mechanica, that’s caused by sports equipment and clothing rubbing against skin. (Thankfully, you can treat it the same way you would any other kind of breakout.) Some factors you can’t control (thanks, Mom and Dad!), but others you can easily get a handle on (like opting for looser workout attire).
How to get rid of body acne
Choose your body care products wisely
The right skincare products can greatly improve your acne situation—or make it infinitely worse. Antibacterial soaps and alcohol-based astringents seem as though they’d be brilliant for wiping out P. acnes bacteria and drying up pimples, but they actually just end up making your body skin even angrier and exacerbating your breakout cycle. Instead, if your body is prone to blemishes, you should look for cleaners, lotions, and creams labeled “non-comedogenic,” “non-acnegenic,” “oil-free,” or that state they don’t clog pores—same as you would if dealing with a similar scenario on your face.
And speaking of your face, it doesn’t react well to harsh scrubs as a method for clearing acne. Turns out, your body's skin behaves the same way. Try to polish away pimples with a high-powered scrub, and not only will you not get rid of them, but you may also actually end up causing lasting scars. Ditto using body brushes, loofahs, and any other exfoliating tool. Be nice to your skin, and you’ll reap the rewards.
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. It’s not just that you need to start or end the day with a shower, it’s that you need to shower soon after the end of every workout, or even if it’s just been a super sweaty day (see: Summer 2022). Perspiration-soaked clothes press and hold dirt, oil, and other grossness in your pores—prime breeding ground for a breakout. Any gentle cleanser will do an effective job here. If you want something slightly more super-charged, try Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel. Yes, it’s technically made for faces, but its pore-refining and oil-balancing ingredients benefit bodies, too.
We’ve told you that body acne is frequently the result of a clogged pore, and that scrubbing acne will only make it worse. So, you may be wondering at this point, exactly how you’re supposed to unblock those pores. The answer is chemical exfoliation. The process uses acids to loosen the gunk holding dead cells to the surface of your face or each other inside a pore (where they form a plug). And though it may sound scary (“acid”), it’s a gentle treatment that has short- and long-term benefits. Each Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment towelette is saturated with a mix of alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic), beta hydroxy acids (such as salicylic), bakuchiol, and bromelain to whisk away dead cells and produce radiant results. Sweep one from chest to toe, two to three times a week for best results. Then follow with a body lotion (remember to read the label!) to lock in moisture.
Avoid picking or popping body acne
You know this is a giant no-no when pimples are on your face (can cause scarring, can make acne worse, etcetera, etcetera). Just because the clogged pore is on your chest, not your cheek, doesn’t make any of those scenarios less likely to happen. Hands off, no exceptions!
Spot-treat with LEDs
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) deliver painless energy beams to skin that—depending on their color—can do everything from stimulate collagen to killing acne bacteria. If you’re dealing with body breakouts, it’s that second benefit that will interest you. Used daily, blue LED (found in Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite BodyWare Pro) eradicates P. acnes bacteria, eliminating this potential breakout fuel. (If you’re using this device in conjunction with your Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment, do your Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite BodyWare Pro session first, followed by your exfoliating treatment.)