How to get rid of body acne

Bacne aka back acne, pimples on chest, and more

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Curology Team
Mar 19, 2019 · 5 min read

We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

If bacne is bugging you, don’t worry: you’re not alone. Body breakouts are super-common and can happen for many reasons, but we know that doesn’t make them any less annoying! Body acne, aka bacne, tends to be even more stubborn than pimples and blackheads on your face (as if that wasn’t enough to deal with!), so sometimes it takes more than just one anti-acne body wash to get rid of bacne. Read on for derm-approved advice for how to banish bacne from head to toe.

Why do I have back acne?!

There are many possible back acne causes, just like all acne: inflammation, hormones, using the wrong products for your skin type…you probably know the spiel by now, but check out our post on what causes acne for more!

In addition to all the usual causes of acne, microorganisms like the pityrosporum fungus thrive in warm, moist areas, and these guys contribute to inflammation. If you tend to have a sweaty back, for example, that could contribute to bacne. Tight clothing that doesn’t let your skin “breathe” can give acne microbes an even better environment to thrive in. If you’re prone to bacne, try switching to clothing made of natural fabrics such as 100% cotton. Opt for clothing with a looser fit that won’t trap heat or cause friction on your skin. And most importantly, cleanse your skin ASAP after breaking a sweat to wash away those gnarly microbes.

Types of acne on your body, from front (pimples on chest) to back (pimples on back)

Bacne is common in certain areas — including chest acne, shoulder acne, and neck acne — because the sebaceous glands that produce oil in our skin are more prominent in these areas. The skin on your body is tougher than the skin on your face, so it can be more difficult to get rid of body acne (ugh), but the skin on your body can also tolerate stronger ingredients than your face.

How to get rid of bacne

We weren’t kidding when we said body acne is stubborn! It might take a multi-step approach to get rid of bacne. Feel free to use the following three ingredients, adding each one at a time, so you can tell which one works for you. Some body acne needs stronger medications to get rid of, which may or may not include oral medications — so check with your medical provider if your body acne is particularly stubborn or is leaving scars.

Zinc pyrithione soap

We recommend starting with a zinc pyrithione soap because it helps get rid of that acne-causing pityrosporum fungus that lives on the skin. Many people see a difference after just a few weeks of replacing their normal body cleanser with a zinc soap! To make sure it has time to sink into your skin and get to work, leave the soap suds on your skin for about a minute before rinsing it off.

Pro tips

  1. Avoid soaps that contain cocoa butter or coconut oil, which can trigger breakouts for some people. The original Noble zinc soap made with emu oil or argan oil are both great options. The Vanicream Z-Bar works too.

  2. Keep your zinc soap on a perforated holder so it can drain and dry in between uses. You don’t want your zinc soap to live in a damp corner of the tub — that can only lead to more “bad” microbes! Give your soap a quick rinse before using it, to be on the safe side.

  3. If the zinc soap doesn’t do the trick, then add in a benzoyl peroxide (BP) cleanser for an extra kick, alternating between both of them.

Benzoyl peroxide for body acne

This is one of the more effective acne-fighting ingredients available without a prescription, but it can be kind of harsh on skin — and it can bleach your clothes, whether you use a benzoyl peroxide cream or a wash. Still, a benzoyl peroxide body wash is an effective way to get the benefits because it’s potent enough that it continues to work on your skin even after you’ve rinsed it off.

Acne body wash with salicylic acid

Salicylic acid (aka beta hydroxy acid, aka BHA) helps keep pores from getting clogged, so it’s also an effective option for body acne. Acne body washes with salicylic acid (like the one by Curology) can make a big difference when it comes to body breakouts, so long as they don’t contain pore-clogging ingredients.

Curology Acne Body Wash

Body lotion for acne-prone skin

Make sure any products you use on your bod are non-comedogenic (read: don’t clog pores) and don’t contain irritating ingredients. If you use a body wash or lotion that contains coconut oil, sulfates, or other potentially pore-clogging ingredients, that might be contributing to your bacne. Here’s our guide to how to check your products for any pore-clogging ingredients the quick, easy way on CosDNA.com.

We’ve got your back

Your custom Curology acne-fighting formula is specifically for acne-prone areas of your face and neck, so we made the acne body wash for the rest of your skin! Our perfectly calibrated 2% salicylic acid formula cleans pores of acne-causing gunk, like old skin cells, dirt, and oil. You can try it for free when you start your Curology free trial (just pay $4.95 plus tax to cover the cost of shipping and handling).

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