Skin Journal
How do I get rid of body acne?
Marni Dixit
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Did you know that acne is one of the most predominant chronic skin diseases globally? In fact, almost 10 per cent of the world's population has experienced it in some way.

Acne can come in several different forms, from mild to severe, with all types of acne involving a blockage or inflammation of our hair follicles.

And, because we have hair follicles all over our bodies, unfortunately, this means acne really can pop up wherever it wants!

Body breakouts can often be a little trickier to treat than facial acne due to simple logistical reasons, such as reaching your back.

Body blemishes can often be deep and stubborn, making them more difficult to treat.

However, you will be pleased to know that there are a variety of ways to minimise body acne, so let's take a look into how to get rid of it.

Where does body acne usually occur?

Acne can appear anywhere that you have pores, so this could be your face, neck, shoulders, back, chest and lower body.

But, it would typically not appear on your palms or the soles of your feet.

There are many different reasons why you might have body acne, including your age, stress levels, sleeping patterns, weight, drug and alcohol consumption, genetics, and menstrual cycle.

You're more likely to develop acne during your teenage years, however, if you have oily skin, you may still have a high chance of developing it in your early to mid-20s as well.

Acne can be uncomfortable and cause low self-esteem and anxiety, especially in young people.

If you have concerns about your acne, it's always a good idea to seek professional help to get to the root of the problem.

What are the different types of acne that can pop up on the body?

Several different types of acne can pop up on the body, including acne mechanica and acne cosmetica.

Acne mechanica

This is the term for people who get body acne from friction, heat and weight against the skin. Typically, this is a result of tight sports equipment or activewear.

Sweat can exacerbate this further by irritating the affected area. It will usually present as pimples, but it could develop into inflamed papules and pustules in more severe cases.

The location of the breakouts will depend on what is causing the friction.

If you're a dancer, for example, you may experience breakouts on your back and chest from wearing synthetic fabric for hours on end.

It might be on your shoulders and back from carrying a heavy pack if you're a hiker. If you often wear a hat or helmet, it could lead to breakouts on your forehead and chin.

Soccer players may also find shin guards cause acne.

Even musicians who have straps or hold their instruments against their bodies may find they develop acne mechanica.

Acne mechanica can be closely compared with acne vulgaris, the most common type of acne, as clogged pores are the cause of both.

However, they are not triggered in the same way. While acne mechanica is contained to specific areas due to friction, acne vulgaris typically develops on the face, neck and back, where there are more oil-producing sebaceous glands.

Acne cosmetica

Acne cosmetica, on the other hand, is caused by styling products that contain oils and silicones, such as your hair or makeup products.

Hair products, for example, can clog your pores and cause acne on your hairline and back of your neck. It may also extend to your back, shoulders, and chest if your hair is long.

If your breakouts are concentrated around your upper cheekbones and eye area, you may find that it's an eye product that's to blame.

However, if you have breakouts over your entire face, this could be due to a moisturiser, primer or foundation.

To help alleviate this, be sure you're purchasing products that are right for your skin type and that are non-comedogenic, which means they don't clog or block pores.

Avoid sharing makeup or makeup applicators with others as this can also transfer germs, bacteria, and dead skin cells to your skin.

Discontinuing the use of these products is the quickest way to remedy this type of acne.

However, these blemishes can take a longer time to appear, making it difficult to see the connection between the product and your breakout.

When it comes to treating acne cosmetica, look out for products that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and adapalene.

Other types of acne

Poor hygiene or excessive sweating could be another reason behind your skin breakouts and making sure to cleanse your skin regularly is the best way to remedy this.

Make sure to shower immediately after exercising or sweating excessively and wash your face in the morning and night with a cleanser and after exercise.

Sun exposure can also play a role in body acne. Your skin tends to dry out when it gets burned, and your body often overcompensates by trying to produce more oil, which can then clog your pores and cause acne.

What causes acne on the body?

There are a variety of causes of acne in different parts of the body. Let's take a look at what might be causing this.


There are several reasons you might be experiencing chest acne. These could be hormonal fluctuations, dehydration, exercise, laundry detergents, oily products and makeup or perfumes.

Teenagers, young adults, and older women are likely to see breakouts due to hormones. For women, this could mean developing acne on or near their breasts.

Dehydration affects every part of a person's health, and when you're dehydrated, your skin is more likely to become dry and flaky, which signals your body to produce more oil to rehydrate it.

If flaky skin gets stuck in oily pores, you're likely to experience acne.

Working out can also lead to chest acne due to friction with clothes and sports equipment. Wear loose-fitting tops, and shower soon after exercising to prevent breakouts.

Certain laundry detergents can cause outbreaks if they contain dyes and perfumes, so using perfume and dye-free detergent can help in this case.

Similarly, makeup and fragrances can irritate the skin, causing acne.

Some people may find oil-based moisturisers cause breakouts on their chest as they block pores and trap dirt and bacteria, causing acne.


Back acne, or bacne as its commonly known, provides some unique challenges because you can't easily see your back or reach certain areas to apply body acne treatments.

Like the chest and face, your back contains a lot of sebaceous glands, which produce oil to keep the skin healthy.

When your hair follicles or pores get clogged with excess oil or dead skin cells, it will often lead to breakouts.

Hormonal changes and some medications can cause back breakouts, but more often than not, it's caused by lifestyle factors.

Bacne is a common experience because your back is often covered by clothing or equipment like backpacks, and when paired with hot, humid or sweaty conditions, can cause acne to develop.

For these reasons, it's also an ideal spot for Malassezia (a type of yeast) to grow and create lesions that look similar to acne.


Similarly to back acne, shoulder acne is caused by blocked pores due to friction from items like backpacks or purses and sporting equipment as well as excess heat and moisture from sweating or irritation to certain fibres in your blankets or pillows, for example.

It could even be as simple as your sports bra.

If you have shoulder acne and continue using a heavy backpack or bag, the blemishes will worsen due to the repeated pressure.

How do you treat body acne?

There are a number of different solutions to help you say goodbye to breakouts. Here are some of the best body acne treatments available.

Skincare products

Ensure you're selective with the skincare products you use as it could be your skincare routine that is working against you and causing acne.

Check your moisturisers, makeup and anything else you use on your face, like sunscreen or a primer, and make sure it's non-comedogenic.


Ensure you're showering every day and keeping your skin healthy and clear by cleaning away any excess sweat and body oil.

Use a gentle cleanser, soap or antibacterial soap if you have pustules. Software's Salicylic Acid Foaming Wash gently exfoliates and sloughs away dead skin cells, unclogs pores and hydrates your skin to clear out any acne-causing bacteria.

It can also reduce breakouts and is low-irritant. Use it two to three times a week on your face, chest and back to target your breakouts.

Avoid using a loofah or sponge across your body as this can spread bacteria and worsen breakouts.

Topical retinoids

If you've tried a salicylic acid wash and your body acne is still not budging, you might want to try a customised treatment with prescription retinoids.

Retinoids stimulate the growth of new skin cells and increase the rate that old skin cells are shed, while also reducing the production of oil on your skin.

This combination helps to treat acne and prevent further breakouts.

Software's prescription acne treatment harnesses the acne-fighting power of retinoids and customises a formula just for you, based on your specific skin needs.

And, you receive ongoing follow-up support from your doctor, so they can monitor your process.

Simply take our quiz and a local Software doctor will be able to create a formula for you that targets those pesky body breakouts.


Another thing to consider is your clothing. Wearing sweaty clothes can quickly clog pores, so ensure you're wearing loose, clean clothing.

Tight clothing can also irritate the skin and trap bacteria and oil. If you're experiencing acne on certain parts of the body which are usually covered by tight clothing, it might help to try some loose-fitting attire.


Research has found a connection between body acne and things such as chocolate, dairy and fatty foods.

If you experience random breakouts, try to pay attention to what you're eating and determine if you have a trigger food.


Stress can be a significant factor in your breakouts as it encourages oil production, which in turn can clog pores and lead to body breakouts.

While it is easier said than done, reducing stress could prove to be helpful for preventing acne.

Practising mindfulness, mediation and deep breathing, as well as going for a walk or being active, can help manage stress levels.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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