While the myriad ways of dealing with cystic acne have been well documented, how to nix the spots that can crawl over your neck, shoulder and back region is less talked about.
But back acne affects more than half the people who suffer from facial acne according to the NHS – so, feels like this is one skin issue that deserves a little more air time.
To get the expert take on this irritating issue, WH tapped up some of the country's leading dermatologists and skincare experts, for their advice.
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Back acne causes: why does this happen, in the first place?
Founder of Murad Skincare Dr Howard Murad explains that there are several reasons why some people suffer from acne and some don't.
'Firstly, hormones.' Effectively, when your testosterone levels are higher, your oil glands are stimulated – which can trigger spots.
'It’s not scientifically proven, however there does seem to be a genetic link. Some people naturally produce more oil and more spot-causing bacteria than others,' says Dr Murad.
Okay. But why are spots nudging out of the facial area and over your back?
'Back acne tends to occur thanks to the sweat that builds up between skin and your clothes, which can awaken acne-causing bacteria,' explains Dr Murad.
How to get rid of back acne
Though hormones and genetics may come into play here, there are steps you can take to nail your persistent back acne.
1/ Shower straight after a workout
If you're thinking about avoiding your post-workout wash, Dr Murad has other ideas. 'It’s best to get out of sweaty clothes quickly and hop in the shower right away to blast away the sweat and bacteria,' he says.
'Sweat is an irritant to the skin so may also cause acne flare ups – especially if wearing tight clothing when exercising,' agrees Dr Friedmann, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic.
'The gym is a fairly warm environment and induces sweating so it’s best to always shower after exercise and wash your workout clothes regularly.
2/ Choose cotton clothing over polyester
'If you’re suffering from back acne, favour loose, cotton clothing over synthetics like polyester or Spandex,' advices Dr Friedmann.
3/ Tie your hair up
Tying long hair may help your back acne from spreading as 'wearing long hair down might be contributing to the oil and dirt build up on the skin,' says Dr Friedmann.
4/ Think about your diet
'Your eating habits make a big difference,' says Dr Murad. 'The healthier we are from the inside the healthier we look from the outside.
'Keep an eye on how your skin is affected when you’re bingeing on booze and junk and when you’re choosing healthier foods and drinks'.
5/ Get oil into your meals
Yes, really. 'Don’t be afraid of oil. The truth is, all skin types need healthy oils to look their best. Foods such as eggs, salmon, black cod, and walnuts contain beneficial oils that keep complexions well-nourished and prevent the skin from drying out and breaking out.
'Some studies show that acne is caused by a lack of zinc in the diet. Zinc helps alleviate inflammation and scarring caused by acne,' says Dr Murad. Pumpkin seeds and legumes are both strong sources of this.
6/ Eat your water
'I always say you should eat your water by consuming lots of raw fruit and vegetables. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and dark, leafy greens, to help normalise the turnover of dead skin cells, a key factor in acne breakouts.
'Goji berries and pomegranates are particularly good for hydrating your cells and feeding your complexion with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories,' says Dr Murad.
7/ Wash your sheets regularly
CBA to change your bedding more than once every two weeks? Connect with your inner. Mrs Hinch. By washing and changing your sheets regularly, you can prevent the build up of bacteria.
8/ Balance your PH levels with probiotic
'Try working in a probiotic into your diet to regulate your pH levels,' says dermatologist Dr Gary Goldfaden, founder of Goldfaden MD. skin as well as popping a tablet, fill up on probiotic-rich fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso.
9/ Stop using heavy lotions and bath products
Another piece of advice is to put down the extra thick moisturisers.
'Stay away from using heavy lotions and oils in products that can lay flat on the skin and promote build up,' advises Dr Goldfaden.
10/ Try dry brushing
Dry brushing your body in upwards motions towards your chest (away from the regular motion of blood flow), has been known to wake up your body as it's great for blood circulation.
But dry brushing can also help with back acne.
'Dry brushing or using a loofa regularly is a great way to treat back acne and keep breakouts at bay. By brushing/exfoliating skin, it works to remove dead skin cells and increases circulation overall' says Dr Goldfaden.
Back acne products: the ingredients to use
So, you've cleaned up your bedsheets and are going hard on the nutrients that can keep back acne at bay. But what skincare ingredients should you reach for?
'With the right products you won’t need lots of different formulas, says Dr Murad.
'Glycolic and salicylic acids gently exfoliate to keep pores clean and clear from oil, while anti-inflammatory liquorice root extract will help reduce redness and irritation.
'Lemon grass oil is another good ingredient to look out for. It’s an anti-bacterial agent which destroys spot-causing bacteria while nourishing and healing the skin.'
It’s important to also use fragrance-free detergents too as the skin can get irritated from the detergents on the clothing.
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