Body Acne — How To Treat & Prevent It, According To Dermatologists
Until about three weeks ago, the skin care gods spared me as I never had acne again. Sure, I sometimes wake up with a pimple or redness, but luckily it usually goes away by dinner. I owe my normally clear skin to my regular sunscreen use and obscene (120 ounces) daily water intake. But all that changed when I started taking Zumba and HIIT classes outdoors and saw the communal pool as my ideal location for working from home. The mix of sweat, tight clothing, and forgetting to put on sunscreen during the day left my back full of pesky pimples. Worse still, I developed chest acne that extended to my bra line. The timing couldn’t have been worse as I looked forward to wearing summer clothes and visiting recently opened stores.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one experiencing more body acne in the summer. “Excessive heat, moisture, and sweating all contribute to the acne cascade by clogging our pores, causing inflammation and breakouts,” says Dr. Fatima Fahs, certified dermatologist and founder of Dermy Doc Box. “It’s worst on the back, chest, and even buttocks.”
If, like me, you tend to be fine in the colder months but break out in the summer, read on for dermatologist-approved tips and tricks on how to treat and prevent summer acne altogether.
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Why sweat and heat can make you break out more
Shocking to anyone, we tend to sweat more in summer. The sweat itself does not cause acne, but helps to clog the pores. “Sweat, oil and debris, if left on the skin, can clog pores and become ‘nourishment’ for acne-causing bacteria that flare up,” says Dr. Jenny Liu, FAAD. Instead of focusing on not sweating (remember, your body regulates its temperature and that’s actually a good thing), focus on tweaking your routine to reduce the chance of an outbreak.
As tempting as it is to sit around or run errands after a workout, you should always shower after any physical activity to prevent the build-up of bacteria that could cause acne. According to Dr. Fahs are “the clothes you wear, the timing of your shower, or the body products you put on your skin,” all factors contributing to the acne that could result from it.
You can also blush and blush after exercising. Dr. Orit Markowitz, New York dermatologist and founder of OptiSkin, recommends taking a small, cold-insulated pack with you to hold a moisturizer and sunscreen. “Relapses and reddening of the skin after training are often due to overheating,” says Dr. Markowitz with. “After your workout, rinse your face and put a cold moisturizer and even a cold sunscreen on it to keep things on your face less overheated, which in turn prevents blushing and acne.”
How to treat summer body acne
So, if you have worsened body acne at this time of year, how exactly should you treat it? Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, cosmetic dermatologist and founder of PFRANKMD, recommends using a chemical peel product that contains AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) a few times a week. You can also treat spots with a salicylic acid (a type of BHA) or benzoyl peroxide to increase cell turnover, dissolve trapped sebum, and heal existing breakouts.
It is important to use a moisturizer after any type of exfoliation to help restore moisture to your skin. Dr. Markowitz notes that “often the ingredients you use to treat acne tend to dry out the skin” and that “the goal is to control the inflammatory process that leads to your acne, therefore.” Moisture is of the essence. ”When your skin is too dry it becomes inflamed and causes it to produce more oil, which in turn can lead to more clogged pores, which can lead to more pimples. So it’s tempting to be super aggressive with lots of acne control products and ingredients, but don’t skip the moisturizer and SPF at the end of your routine.
If you have a particularly aggressive pimple that refuses to go away, Dr. Liu suggests seeing a dermatologist for steroid injections like cortisol to shrink the pimple (but your doctor can tell you if this is the best course of action).
A summer personal care routine to help minimize acne
Since acne (especially common acne) occurs when the pores become clogged with oil, it is important to develop a summer routine that minimizes excess oil and prioritizes skin renewal. Dr. Fahs encourages their patients to use a non-comedogenic and lightweight moisturizer, as well as an oil-free sunscreen. She also emphasizes the risks of excessive exfoliation. “Don’t cleanse too much or feel the need to use harsh scrubs and strong ingredients. Excessive cleaning can cause irritation that can make pimples worse. “
It is also important to consider the clothes you are wearing. While dermatologists recommend looser fits instead of tight clothing to help prevent frictional acne (known as acne mechanics), investing in UV protection factor (UPF) clothing is also best if you spend a lot of time outdoors – sun exposure can worsen the hyperpigmentation caused by acne and cause more extensive dark spots on your skin.
“Depending on the fabric, clothing affects the amount of sunlight we are exposed to, and if the fabric is open and light, you are actually not protected at all,” says Dr. Markowitz opposite the TZR. Translation: Even if you wear clothes, they will not protect you from the sun. But certain tightly woven fabrics, like unbleached cotton, not only protect against UV damage, but are also breathable, which minimizes sweating and prevents the accumulation of acne-causing bacteria. It’s a win-win for body acne prevention in summer.
Also, don’t skip washing your hair. “The oil from our hair tends to contribute to breakouts on the forehead and upper back,” says Dr. Fahs. “Make sure you wash your hair consistently, especially if you are sweaty, and avoid using occlusive conditioners and leave-in products on your hair if you let your hair air dry while you skin Touching your back like it is sometimes [these] Products can contribute to the worsening of acne. “
Ultimately, to stay one step ahead of body acne and breakouts, opt for a “daily acne wash that contains salicylic acid to cleanse your pores,” says Dr. Frank. “Follow up with an oil-free moisturizer, and when the skin needs a boost of hydration, add a hyaluronic acid serum.” The salicylic acid wash helps exfoliate the skin and remove dead, trapped cells from the pores. Dr. Fahs also suggests using a benzoyl peroxide wash in the shower, especially after a workout. “Benzoyl peroxide removes surface bacteria on the skin that often lead to acne breakouts, while also reducing inflammatory acne,” she says.
If you are planning to be outdoors this summer (hello yes) and you are prone to body acne, taking consistent preventative measures like these instead of just treating breakouts when they occur can help clear skin all over your body.
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