How To Treat Chest & Back Acne At Home, According to A Dermatologist

Understanding how to get rid of body acne (acne on your chest and back, particularly) can be even tougher than facial acne. It’s often harder to reach, harder to care for, and receives much less attention than the face, which gets its own entire aisle of washes and moisturizers and toners. What gives? How do you prevent back and chest acne once and for all, and how is it different from the blemishes that pop up on your chin or forehead?

For these and other breakout-related questions, I reached out to Dr. Amy Perlmutter of New York Dermatology Group. The first thing she did was clear up the fact that back and body acne treatment isn’t very different from facial acne at all. She told me, “Acne is caused by the combination of bacteria, clogged pores and sweat glands, hormones and inflammation." The difference, however, is that body acne is often worsened by things like “occlusive clothing, a warm climate, [and] physical activity in a heated environment” — things that don’t affect the facial area as often, as it’s cleansed more frequently and usually exposed.

However, despite the many similarities and few differences, getting rid of body acne is possible, and it can be treated. Here are Dr. Perlmutter’s best suggestions for clearing up chest acne and back breakouts.

Don't Let Bacteria Spread — Tea Tree Oil Stops Breakout-Causing Bacteria

Pure Body Naturals Tea Tree Oil Scrub, $15, Amazon

When it comes to natural ingredients that pack a big acne-fighting punch, Dr. Perlmutter suggests tea tree oil, "due to its anti-bacterial properties.” This Pure Body Naturals tea tree oil scrub offers a gentle and healing blend of tea tree oil, mineral salts, and essential oils. Not only is it especially great when it comes to minimizing small infections and blemishes, but it carefully buffs away old skin to leave you feeling soft and clean. Reviewers love the fresh and minty smell, the fact that it moisturizes with natural oils while it exfoliates, and the luxurious addition it makes to shower time.

Don't Ignore Inflamed Hair Follicles; Neem Oil Heals & Brings Down Inflammation

Organic & Wild Crafted Cold Pressed Neem Oil, $16, Amazon

“Body acne develops in a similar way to facial acne, although commonly, the chest and back presents more as a folliculitis, which is inflammation of the hair follicle,” Dr. Perlmutter says. When it comes to natural remedies for folliculitis, few things are as effective as oil from the neem plant. This neem oil preserves all of the anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties of the neem, like using only organic and wild-crafted neem leaves and cold-pressing them with minimal processing and no chemicals. It can be applied directly to skin, which makes it a great fit for body acne.

After Showering, Your Skin Care Doesn't Stop — Clay Soaks Up Body Sebum

Molivera Organics Pure Bentonite Clay, $12, Amazon

According to Dr. Perlmutter, body acne can get worse during the hotter months. She said, “Chest and back acne often flares in the summer when the body sweats more, producing more sebum which can lead to more breakouts.” That’s why it’s important to switch up your routine to include something that targets sebum production. This pure bentonite clay contains absolutely nothing except for 100 percent natural clay from Wyoming. It makes a great full-body mask for acne because it increases blood flow, detoxifies dirt and impurities, replenishes necessary healing minerals, and absorbs any excess sebum that’s produced on your back and chest.

Instead of Settling for Mainstream Body Wash, Cleanse With Antibacterial Apple Cider Vinegar Formula

Beauty and the Bees Apple Cider Skin Tonic Soap, $8, Amazon

“Apple cider vinegar can help balance out the pH of the skin and has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties,” Dr. Perlmutter says. This chemical-free apple cider soap is made with healing apple cider vinegar, but it also has other entirely natural ingredients like coconut oil, honey, green clay, and lavender essential oil. It cleanses your skin thoroughly while balancing your pH levels, but because it’s especially nourishing and won’t strip your body’s natural oils, skin is left feeling smooth, clear, and beautiful. One reviewer even said, “I have combination acne-prone skin. Since switching to this soap, my skin has noticeably cleared within a couple weeks.”

Stop Avoiding Back Breakouts While Washing — Salicylic Acid & Benzoyl Peroxide Formula Fights Back

Infinite Skin Clarity Serum, $23, Amazon

When it comes to clearing up particularly stubborn body acne, “salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are both helpful,” says Dr. Perlmutter. This clarity serum is considered to be an extremely gentle yet effective serum for acne, as it uses a careful combination of both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. It moisturizes skin while targeting affected areas, and because it also contains tea tree oil, it helps to target acne-causing bacteria, as well as infections. Because it works without irritating even the most sensitive of skin, and because it goes on smoothly without any residue, reviewers are saying things like, “This is it — the holy grail!”

Instead of Showering All the Time, Consider A Soothing & Healing Baking Soda Bath

Birkshire Spa Bath Bombs, $18, Amazon

Sodium bicarbonate fights acne because it balances skin’s pH levels, stops inflammation, and overcomes bacteria, which is why Dr. Perlmutter recommends “baking soda scrub.” These bath bombs are made with entirely natural ingredients, the most prominent of which is good old-fashioned baking soda. However, they also have kaolin clay to pull out excess oils, shea butter to moisturize, green tea to provide antioxidants, and lavender and clary sage essential oils to soothe and soften skin. Not only do they make for a luxurious, healing, and relaxing bath, but they help transform your skin, so it’s smooth and blemish-free.

Never Over-Exfoliate — Cleanse Skin Gently And Naturally

Luxury Natural Sea Yellow Bath Sponge, $16, Amazon

When it comes to shower mistakes that make acne worse, the skin expert says, “Avoid too much scrubbing and over-exfoliating. Trauma to the skin can lead to more inflammation and over-drying, causing the skin to produce more oil, which causes further breakouts.” Plastic loofahs and course washcloths are way too abrasive for body acne, but this bath sponge is soft and all-natural. Because it’s made from a real sea sponge, it’s both environmentally friendly and inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria to clean your body in a sanitary, gentle, and effective way. It also comes with a durable fish net, ideal for hanging and drying your sponge thoroughly in the shower. No wonder this sponge has five-star ratings across the board.

Don't Forget to Work Healing Sulfur Into Body Washing — Combine With Lavender For Calming Cleanse

Sulfur-Lavender Soap, $10, Amazon

Because facial acne is pretty similar to body acne, according to Dr. Perlmutter, “It’s treated with the same active ingredients.” Sulfur is a wonderful ingredient when it comes to easing breakouts because it dries existing blemishes, reduces oil, prevents the spread of bacteria, and stops inflammation, all while nourishing and hydrating skin. This Sulfur-Lavender Soap is comprised of a homeopathic formula that contains micronized volcanic sulfur and healing lavender oil. It also has palm kernel and coconut oil, which soothe and hydrate skin, making this one of the most healing and gently-lathering soaps out there. Reviewers are impressed with the results, and this bar smells more like lavender than it does sulfur, which is a definite win.

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Images: Sylvain Reygaerts /Unsplash; Amazon (8)