Body Acne

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If you suffer from facial acne then it is pretty likely that you will also experience some acne of your body as well. The most common areas of the body that are affected by acne are the neck, the back, the upper arms, the buttocks, the chest and the thighs, although any part of your body can be affected except for the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.

Causes of Body Acne

The reason that acne can appear everywhere on your body, excluding your hands and feet, is that all of your skin contains sebaceous glands. These sebaceous glands produce a natural oil call sebum that, in normal quantities, keeps the skin lubricated and clears away dead skin cells. However, if the sebaceous glands are triggered to produce too much sebum the pores and follicles, which the oil escapes through, become blocked which causes blackheads and whiteheads, these are known as comedone. If the normally harmless bacteria which live on the skin come into contact with these comedone they become infected and inflamed, resulting in spots called papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

Generally you will get fewer ‘spots’ on your body than on your face. This is because the face has a high number of sebaceous glands compared to your body. However, this is a double-edged sword, often body acne is more severe and the papules, pustules, nodules and cysts are likely to be larger, more painful and longer lasting than those on your face. The reason for this is that although there are fewer sebaceous glands on the body, the skin is thicker and has bigger pores.

How to Treat Body Acne

There is no true ‘cure’ for any kind of acne, let alone body acne, but there are measures you can take to reduce it and keep your body as clear as possible.

The main problem with body acne is that your skin is often close to material that collects excess sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells which can lead to the irritation and infection of your pores. Avoiding clothing made out of synthetic materials can be beneficial to your skin as natural fabrics such as cotton allow your skin to ‘breathe’ and do not result in as much sweating or irritation. Some people also believe that fabric conditioner can cause irritation.

The best way to care for mild-to-moderate body acne is to shower thoroughly every day, using a mild wash and an over-the-counter acne cleanser. Your pharmacist should be able to advise you on the best products for your skin as some can make acne even worse. It is also very important to wash thoroughly after you have been sweating heavily. It may also be helpful to use a very gentle form of exfoliation once a week. Be careful though because regular and/or overly intensive exfoliation can aggravate and worsen body acne, as can washing more than twice a day.

Like facial acne, the cause of body acne is generally hormonal. Factors like diet, stress, smoking and taking certain medications can influence your hormones. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, reducing stress and not smoking will not necessarily stop you from getting acne or cure your acne, but there is evidence that taking these steps can sometimes drastically improve the condition.

Of course, if you are concerned about your body acne, or if it is moderate-to-severe, then it is important to consult your doctor or dermatologist about it. Body acne can be nasty and can affect your self-esteem as much as facial acne so be sure to be open with your practitioner about the effects it has had on you. They may be able to prescribe oral medication, other treatments or topical medicines that are not available over-the-counter.

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