Sometimes you just can't win, can you? Your #girlswholift selfie at the gym looks badass, but your back is all spotty, thanks to body acne from your sports bra. While they can, sometimes, be treated with the similar products, the zits on your back are a little different from the ones on your face. That spotty situation you can't see without some serious double mirror action is a type of acne called acne mechanica.
According to the US National Library of medicine, acne mechanica happens when there is friction, pressure or rubbing against the skin. It also happens when there is excess heat in the body. Typically, this form of acne is very common amongst people who are very active in their jobs and daily lives like athletes, soldiers, young sportspeople, and of course, people who love working out, jumping, climbing and generally moving around all the time. Basically, all the people who might wear sports bras on the regular. Acne mechanica can look anything from red tiny bumps to a full blown zit that has pus, oil, and all that other lovely stuff.
You can put the blame on anything that traps heat to your body, rubs your skin, or even put pressure on your skin. That's why this type of acne is common in soldiers, who carry heavy loads on their backs for prolonged periods. Sports bras are, of course, a major culprit as well.
So, now that you know your post-workout bacne is totally normal (expected, even) let's talk about some treatment options. I spoke with Annet King, Director of Global Education at Dermalogica, to find out the best ways to zap those body zits.
1. Cleanse with the right ingredients.
The first rule of bacne is to treat your back and chest like you treat the skin on your face. Go through your regular shower products and get rid of any comedogenic offenders like artificial fragrance and color, pure lanolins, and petroleum derivatives. Instead, turn to anti-bacterial products that are soap- and fragrance-free with ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree to help decrease the spotty activity on your back.
2. Use spot treatments.
Just like you would for your face, you can spot treat any particularly stubborn pimples on your back. Terrasil is my personal favorite body acne treatment brand. They have a great range of all-natural products, including Terrasil Anti-Bacterial Skin Repair Ointment or ThatZit All-Natural Acne Treatment which I've found to be particularly effective.
3. Avoid scrubs and alcohol astringents.
Even though the cooling sensation that comes from alcohol or mentholated treatments can feel nice, it doesn't actually mean your skin is clean. "In most cases, these astringents have an SD alcohol base that strips the skin of lipids and causes the skin to actually produce more oil to only worsen the condition," King says. Scrubs are no good either, since they'll open up lesions and spread bacteria.
4. Add a toner.
To get that soothing sensation you left behind with tip number three, try a spray-on, alcohol free-toner. It'll help balance your skin, which can help with pimple control.
5. Wash your stuff.
Ideally, you should be washing your sports bra every two to three workouts to ensure it's staying free of bacteria. On top of that, not washing your sheets with enough frequency can cause breakouts, so swap them out if you notice you're waking up with more pimples. Remember that sweat, oil and dead cells are basically a swingers' party for bacteria.
6. Know when to seek expert help.
If you have a severe case of bacne that just won't quit, it's time to see a dermatologist. If you leave that body acne untreated, you could end up with scarring and infection in the long run. If you don't have a derm on hand already, Dermalogica offers bacne treatments at their Dermalogica stores in Santa Monica, CA, and SoHo, NYC, as well as in select salons and spas nationwide. Book it in and get ready to flaunt your back in your new sports bra!