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Homestyle-beautyDealing with 'bacne': What causes body and back acne and how to...

Dealing with 'bacne': What causes body and back acne and how to treat it

Zits don’t just occur on the face – this shouldn’t be news to anyone who’s ever had pimples on the chest and back, two zones that are particularly prone to them. In fact, they can pop up on any area of the body, as long as it’s covered by skin – and that’s pretty much every part of it.

The reason behind this is that there are oil glands all over the skin (except on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet), which, under certain conditions, produce too much sebum and lead to these painful and unsightly spots.

Sebum’s main function is to protect the skin, but when too much of it is produced (this can be brought on by stress, hormonal imbalances or genetic predisposition), it leads to oily skin and a higher chance of pimples occurring. According to Dr Eileen Tan of Eileen Tan Skin Clinic & Associates, excessive sebum and dead skin cells can cause hair follicles under the skin to become clogged, which in turn leads to inflammation and causes acne.

It might be true that acne on the body isn’t nearly as devastating as acne on the face (after all, one can still cover up “bacne” with clothes) but left untreated, it can leave scars and marks on the skin, which means you may not be able to flaunt that strappy dress or low-backed top as confidently as you would like to.

It’s not just bacteria that can trigger the eruption of spots on the back and body, however, pointed out Dr Tan. A yeast infection in the hair follicles could also be responsible for it – in which case, it is known as pityrosporum folliculitis or fungal “acne” (medically speaking, it is actually a different skin condition that’s not acne, although it’s commonly called so). If you didn’t know yet, yeast is a fungus that’s normally found on our skin, but it can cause skin problems when there’s an abnormal overgrowth of it.

Fungal acne is not the same as acne that has resulted from bacterial infection and has to be treated differently, usually with a prescription of antifungal medications. Its appearance resembles common acne but, unlike it, may cause itching. If you suspect that you might have a case of fungal acne, consult a dermatologist pronto.

Related:

How to get rid of pesky blackheads and whiteheads without scarring your skin

Not all marks left by pimples are scars – how to tell the difference and why they should be treated differently

KEEPING CLEAN

“Try to shower after exercising to get rid of dirt and bacteria. It is also beneficial to change into a clean set of clothes after your workout,” advised Dr Tan. She also cautioned against going into the steam room after a sweaty workout – the heat as well as bacteria living in the moist, communal space may aggravate body acne. “It’s also best to use your own personal towel instead of communal ones when in the gym for hygiene reasons,” she added.

On that note, it might be a good idea to put on a T-shirt during your workout (for those who love to work out in strappy, skin-baring tops) – this protects your skin from bacteria exposure, especially if your back, chest or shoulders will come into contact with communal mats or gym equipment when exercising.

SWITCH TO A TREATMENT BODY WASH

There are body-cleansing products formulated to specifically target acne and it’ll be helpful to use one in replacement of your usual soap or shower gel. Look out for those that contain benzoyl peroxide, which helps kill bacteria on the skin and in the hair follicles and has anti-inflammatory effects on active acne.

“It is feasible to try over-the-counter medications with ingredients such as benzoxyl peroxide or acne or salicylic acid to treat acne as they are readily available in the pharmacy. However, if there is no improvement after four to six weeks, one should seek medical attention. In cases that do not respond to them, oral antibiotics and retinoids can be prescribed by dermatologist,” said Dr Tan.

EXFOLIATION HELPS

Gentle exfoliation with a mild AHA or BHA scrub can be helpful to treating body acne or marks that are left from breakouts. “Light exfoliation can reduce comedones and lighten skin discolouration that results from acne,” explained Dr Tan.

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