Body breakouts can ruin even the most toned physiques. That is the complaint of The New York Times scribe Tatiana Boncompagni, who shares her chest and back acne story with readers in this week’s paper. After logging hours of cardio time at the gym, Boncompagni wanted to show off her newly toned upper body with a racerback tank top, only to have her husband come home and pop a zit on her back. Embarrassing! Boncompagni is not alone in her quest to end body acne. Many Clear Clinic clients come in to our offices when the weather begins to warm up to seek treatment for their back and chest acne.
One of the big back acne no-nos is using a loofah or a back brush on the already inflamed area. It may seem like it makes sense to reach the area with an instrument such a brush or loofah, but you’re only adding insult to injury. The answer for exfoliation when your skin is broken out is to use a chemical exfoliant, such as salicylic acid, so the skin is not being physically injured. But exfoliation when you have acne prone skin is very important. As Boncompagni explains in the Times: “Exfoliation helps keep pores from getting clogged with dead skin cells, which can trap naturally occurring Propionibacterium acnes ( or P. acnes) bacteria with oil or sebum in an anaerobic environment. The bacteria uses the oil as a nutrient for growth, producing fatty acids and triggering an inflammatory response as the body sends white blood cells to the area to combat the infection. (Blackheads and white heads, by contrast, are clogged pores that haven’t triggered the inflammatory response.”
Another ingredient that has proven to be very effective in fighting acne is benzoyl peroxide, which can be used in higher strengths on the back area, as it has thicker skin. But what exactly can cause back breakouts? The culprits can be range from stress and pore-blocking hair products and sunscreens to body-fitting clothes, that can trap sweat in and clog the pores. Unconventional thinking says that a high-glycemic diet may be to blame. Sticking to fruits, veggies and fish may help fight acne breakouts, but there’s not quiet enough science around that theory to completely back it up. Along with the proper treatments and products, make sure you give your acne time to clear up. Most acne regimens take six to eight weeks to really show results. While summer may be over by that time, the good news is that it stays warm through October these days!