Your Action Plan For Body Acne: A Holistic Dermatologist Explains

Photo: Leandro Crespi

Body acne doesn't discriminate—it affects people of all ages, sizes, genders, and skin types. "Body acne is often more stubborn than face acne," said holistic dermatologist Cybele Fishman, M.D. Some people get body acne without facial acne, and others get the reverse, or both.

It's hard to know what's causing body acne. A hormonal shift may be to blame, but switching personal care products, wearing your hair differently, starting a new workout, wearing new clothing, and even using a different detergent can cause body acne.

One thing's for sure—no matter where it is or why it's happening, body acne is a confidence killer. Having body acne can keep anyone from working out, wanting to have sex, being in a bathing suit, and even prevent you from wearing certain outfits (hi, backless dress). If you have body acne, don't fret. There are a number of things you can add to—and remove from—your regimen to start clearing up the issue.

Here's your body acne action plan:

1. Re-evaluate your hair regimen.

One of the top things Dr. Fishman asks her patients to evaluate is the relationship between their hair and their back. She suggests pulling long hair into a bun or high ponytail when exercising, in a position that's not touching your skin. Any products with silicone or mineral oil are often the culprits of acne on the back, so toss any products with those (or at least shelve them for now) and find ones that don't have it.

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2. Consider a sulfur- or salicylic-acid-based cleanser.

Dr. Fishman often recommends a cleanser with sulfur, and salicylic acid is key to fending off acne. While prescriptions can be helpful here, green(er) versions include this sulfur bar soap (which is lauded by Amazon buyers) and this salicylic acid spray by Life-Flo—both have short lists of relatively safe ingredients.

3. Start from the inside.

"I think treating acne from the inside with an anti-inflammatory supplement is very helpful," Dr. Fishman said. She creates her own line of supplements for body acne that include zinc, vitamin A, and niacinamide and recommends looking for the same ingredients in your own supplement. Fish including salmon and tuna are known sources of niacinamide. Shellfish, meat, and nuts and seeds are rich in zinc, and sweet potatoes and carrots are full of vitamin A.

4. Avoid abrasion.

Scrubs, abrasive loofahs, and dry brushing might seem tempting, but they can often cause more inflammation, making matters worse. "The problem with dry brushing is the acne is already inflamed, and you don't want to add more inflammation by traumatizing or irritating an already inflamed area," Dr. Fishman said.

If you suffer from acne on your face, try this at-home mask—it helped one woman clear her cystic acne for good.

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