In my first post, Body Acne- Part 1, I discussed what body acne is, where it's most commonly found and what things seem to exacerbate the problem.
In today's post, I'll talk about what you can do about it, so that ultimately, you're more comfortable in your own skin.
First, you must understand that treating body acne can be a little more difficult than facial acne. This is because the skin is thicker in areas such the back, shoulders, upper arms, etc. However, this can be a good thing because you can actually be a little more aggressive with treatment and not get as sensitive as you might on the face. It's common to combine several different therapies to combat body acne.
Three steps are key when treating body acne: Exfoliating, Dissolving clogged pores and using an antibacterial, such as benzoyl peroxide.
You need to exfoliate your body just as you would your face in order to slough away dead skin cells and prevent them from building up and trapping oil, dirt & debris within the pores. I DO NOT recommend using a harsh exfoliant such as a loofah or sugar/salt scrub on areas that are broken out. Instead, reach for a cleanser that has mild exfoliating beads that are spherical in shape, as these will not cause micro-tears in the skin. Also, do not use any type of mechanical exfoliant on active acne blemishes, as this can exacerbate the situation. In the case of active breakouts, consider using a chemical (alphahydroxy or betahydroxy acid) or enzyme exfoliant. These will slough away dead skin cells without the manual scrubbing action and also speed up cellular turnover to prevent pore blockages.
In order to help dissolve the material that's causing the clogged pore(s) and that's the food source for the P. Acnes bacteria, you will need to use a lipophilic (oil-dissolving) product, such as salicylic acid. Salicylic acid, a betahydroxy acid (BHA), can throughly dissolve the hardened sebum plugs to unclog the pores. Consider using salicylic acid pads- they will exfoliate and dissolve dead skin cells at the same time.
For a deeper exfoliation, consider consulting a licensed skin care professional. They can discuss which options will be right for you depending upon the grade of acne you have.
Next, you must use some type of antibacterial product to kill the P. Acnes bacteria. A good choice is benzoyl peroxide. It's highly effective in levels of 2-5%. Benzoyl peroxide delivers oxygen to the pores. The P. Acnes bacteria are anaerobic and cannot live in the presence of oxygen. Just remember though, benzoyl peroxide is NOT recommended as a spot treatment. It's meant to be used as an all-over treatment product and works best when used this way. It's also a product that you'll most likely need to build up to using throughout the night. You can't slather on benzoyl peroxide, sleep 8 hours with on and NOT have side-effects such as extreme dryness, peeling, etc. You have to slowly build-up to using this product over the course of a couple weeks. This means leaving it on for 15 minutes and then washing it off. Follow this routine for 3 to 4 nights in a row. Next, build up to 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 2 hours and then, within a few weeks time, you should be able to leave it on throughout the night. If you notice some mild dryness, flakiness or peeling- this is normal. Consider using pure jojoba oil to keep the area(s) moisturized. Jojoba oil is non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. Please be aware that benzoyl peroxide can bleach anything it touches, so wear an old cotton t-shirt to bed and white sheets/pillow-cases to avoid ruining your clothing and bedding.
Be aware that when purchasing benzoyl peroxide, some over-the-counter (and even prescription products) actually contain highly comedogenic ingredients such as isopropyl myristate. This ingredient is used to give the product a smooth, creamy texture but rates as a 5 (the worst) on the comedogenic/irritancy scale. Stear clear of these ingredients as your problems will only get worse. Why would an acne medication contain comedogenic ingredients? Honestly, I do not know. I recommend using a benzoyl peroxide gel from a company called VISUAL CHANGES. This is a professionally dispensed product line but you can contact the company directly for list of salons/spas/med-spas/dermatoligist offices that carry this line.
Another step to perform when treating body acne is to apply ice to the affected area(s). Using a cold pack for 1 to 3 minutes will help to reduce inflammation and can often make blemishes go away. Apply ice after cleansing & toning and BEFORE the application of an antibacterial, such as benzoyl peroxide.
Lastly, to minimize scarring, DO NOT pick at your blemishes, avoid indoor tanning and limit sun exposure. UVA & UVB rays can darken acne scars-plus, if you're using AHA's, BHA's, prescription meds as wells as over-the-counter products to treat your acne, your skin can be become much more sensitive when exposed to ultraviolet light causing a serious sunburn. Always wear an appropriate, non-comedogenic SPF- NO EXCEPTIONS.
The keys to successful acne treatment, no matter where it's found on the body or face, are patience and consistency. The time and diligence it takes for proper treatment will be well worth it when you can wear that tank top or sleeveless outfit with total confidence!
Question: Was this post helpful to you? Did you learn something new that you may not have known before? I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below. Thank you!
Related Post: Body Acne- Part 1
Please note that the advice and information contained here are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider before using any medications or beginning any skin care regimin.
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