As acne so often is visually seen on the face many don’t realize that it can also develop in other parts of the body. Since many over-the-counter acne treatments are made for the face, they may not be effective enough to treat the rest of the body. But why does acne affect other parts of the body? Let’s find out.

The Different Kinds of Body Acne

If you have acne on your upper torso, that is the back, chest, and neck, then chances are you also have it on your face. For example, a survey that was conducted on Canadians stated that for the 92% who had acne on their face, 45% had it on their chest as well, and 61% suffered from acne on their back.

Another study that was conducted on Americans demonstrated that 47% of those suffering from acne on their face alone, while 52% included both the back and the face. Many, however, are more concerned with their face and fail to mention body acne to their dermatologists.

There are varying degrees of severity that body acne can develop into, much in the same way as facial acne. It also forms in the same manner on the body as it does the face; the typical difference being that on the body the skin is tougher and there is less flexibility around the pores and hair ducts.

Athletes and those who wear constrictive clothing can often suffer from what is known as Acne Mechanica, or “friction” acne. This due to the rubbing that occurs from pads, straps, and tight clothing that creates friction between the material and the skin it rubs against.

This frequent action causes the lining of the pores to break down. Sweat can often become trapped and overly lubricate the skin, it then wrinkles and the top layer of the skin dies causing the dead skin to become clogged in pore openings. The oil and bacteria interact with the dead skin causing various forms of pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads to develop.

For those who suffer from “friction” acne, the majority also breakout on the face; only approximately 2% suffer from Acne Mechanica alone. Acne Vulgaris and Acne Mechanica can often be treated in the same manner as facial acne; a dermatologist will likely prescribe a stronger concentration of the medication.
Hormonal acne also referred to Acne Conglobata, is not actually a result of clogged pores. It is the result of hormones within the body that rise and fall, and thus this form of acne has to be treated medically in severe cases.

Acne Conglobata is a form of acne that appears on all parts of the body, from the face to the buttocks, in groups of two to three. They can then form into a large lesion that often appears a deep red and is painful to the touch.

When It’s Not Acne

  • Yeast or Bacterial Infection

Sometimes, small, red and often itchy bumps appear in the same area of the bra; this could be the result of a yeast or bacterial infection. Treatments for this infection can include anti-fungal powder, applying antiperspirant to the affected spot, or even some miconazole (anti-fungal) lotion.

  • Infected Hair Follicles

Hair follicles can sometimes become infected, typically after a vigorous workout with lots sweat, and may appear on the buttocks looking like acne. To treat, trying using benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid post-workout.

  • Ingrown Hair or Razor Burn

For all the women who see those small, red bumps along their bikini line, they are likely suffering from ingrown hairs from shaving the area or even razor burn. To help prevent this condition try using a conditioned gel or shaving cream and avoid the use of a dull razor. For treatment, Aloe Vera can help to cool and heal the affected area.

  • Prescribed Drugs

In some cases, prescribed drugs or medication can cause body acne to break out. These medications may include treatments for hormones, such as testosterone, hormonal birth control, Lithium, Phenytoin, Isoniazid, and Corticosteroids, to name a few.

Scars on the Body

In the same manner that acne can scar the face, an individual who suffers from body acne can also develop scars as a result. Although there are some suggested treatments, your doctor may suggest eliminating the scars by removing the top layer of the visible scar tissue and skin; this is known as dermabrasion.

If the scars are minimal but still bothersome, a doctor may suggest microdermabrasion where a hand-held tool is used on the skin. Other treatments can include laser resurfacing, a procedure that helps to minimize blemishes on the skin, or a chemical peel, that which removes the outermost layer of the skin.

Collagen can also be considered a viable treatment of uneven skin, as the protein plumps up the skin making it seem smoother to the touch and in appearance.

The Takeaway

The subject of acne can be overwhelming, and as we have learned it is often not simply just a pimple or two. We know that the majority of people who suffer from acne on other parts of their body will also have it on their face.

If you suffer from body acne you will need a treatment that is stronger than a facial acne treatment, such as benzoyl peroxide, except for in the case of Acne Conglobata. Your post-workout routine should include taking a shower promptly to help exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells and excessive buildup of oils.