In Medical Dermatology

While many people have suffered from acne on their face, many have also experienced acne in other places on the body. Body acne can happen to both teens and adults and occur in many different areas. Though body acne is completely normal, it can be extremely annoying and unpleasant. So, what can you do about body acne? Here, our experts explain what causes it and how to treat body acne.

What causes body acne?

There are many different causes of body acne and the root of the problem can vary greatly by person. Body acne generally occurs most often on the upper half of the body and back, resulting in what is known as bacne. 


Hormones are one of the most common causes of body acne. A hormonal imbalance can overproduce testosterone causing an irregular amount of sebum, the natural skin oil from our sebaceous glands. When sebum and dead skin cells become trapped within the pore, it can create a blockage. This blockage will result in blackheads and whiteheads and can progress to a pimple if bacteria is introduced. Similar to the face, the upper half of the body and back has many sebaceous glands, so these pores are more likely to become clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells. 

Acne mechanica

Skin inflammation from clothing or equipment can also cause acne to develop. Friction or pressure on the skin, combined with heat or sweat, can irritate and inflame pores and cause a specific type of body acne called acne mechanica.


Stress can also cause body acne flair-ups and make existing breakouts worse. Stress causes the body to release small proteins called cytokines that activate an inflammatory response. Short and long-term stress can also affect your hormones, causing an increase in hormonal breakouts.


Genetics are unfortunately another factor at play when it comes to body acne. While there isn’t a gene mutation directly linked to acne, there is a likelihood for acne to run in families, and particular genetic mutations may increase your risk of developing both facial and body acne.

How to treat body acne

While there is no cure for body acne, there are many treatments to lower the risk of developing acne anywhere on your body.

Daily skincare routine

Having a good daily skincare routine is the first step in treating body acne. Using a body wash to remove dirt and oils that is formulated specifically to fight acne is key. Products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are great at combating body acne. While these treatments can cause irritation on the face, the back and upper body areas tend to be less sensitive to this treatment.


A topical retinoid is another great option for treating body acne. Over-the-counter products such as Differin gel can help regulate skin cell turnover and reduce inflammation deep in the skin. This will help to not only clear up current breakouts but prevent future ones as well. Prescription retinoids are also available from your dermatologist should you need something stronger.

READ: Why You Should be Using Retinol

Proper hygiene

While you should never overwash an area with a breakout, practicing proper hygiene is vital when battling body acne. Never stay in sweaty clothes too long after a workout or doing anything that makes you sweaty, and always shower immediately. 

When to see a dermatologist

It may feel frustrating when over-the-counter acne treatments don’t work. If your breakouts continue, it may be time for a trip to your dermatologist. A dermatologist can help you understand what is causing your body acne, and provide insights on the best forms of treatment for your specific case.

Body acne treatment in Columbia, Irmo, Camden and Lexington

If you are suffering from body acne, you aren’t alone! The dermatology experts at Columbia Skin Clinic offer high-quality care for a variety of skin conditions, including body acne. Make an appointment today to learn more about how to treat body acne.

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