Facial acne is challenging enough — but with so much focus on products that address clogged pores, at the very least it's easy to seek out solutions for it. But when it comes to body acne, many acne-fighting facial cleansers won't get the job done. So, how do you get rid of body acne?
Unlike facial acne, body acne can often be a result of a condition called folliculitus, where your hair follicles become irritated and inflamed and start to resemble white heads or pimples. So, take a look at your acne, and determine if it's folliculitus or more traditional acne. (If you're unsure, look for hair growth or consider if your acne is appearing in an area where you regularly shave, which might lead to irritation. There's more information on folliculitus here.)
While body acne resulting from clogged pores can be treated with a salicylic acid wash and a great moisturizer, folliculitus is harder to kick, and may require you to change up your shaving habits to minimize irritation, or even visit your doctor or dermatologist.
After you've determined what you're up against, the next step is to seek out body acne solutions. For back and chest acne, a great solution is a powerful acne-fighting body wash or spray. These can help topically apply those same BHAs and AHAs that you've seen on the ingredients list of your face wash, but to your body after or during your shower. Keep your eyes peeled for those products containing antibacterial ingredients like tea tree oil to prevent bacteria from exacerbating your blemishes.
You'll also want to ensure you're showering after exercise or whenever you become very sweaty, to eliminate the chance any sweat or oils clog up your pores. And, since a lot of oil and sweat can get trapped in your bed sheets and transferred to your skin, experts recommend changing out your sheets at least once a week if your acne is coming into contact with your bed (think chest, back, or shoulder acne).
[Editor's note: If you are experiencing persistent or painful body acne, consult your doctor or dermatologist for specific medical advice.]
Body acne is a totally normal, super common skin issue — but you can combat it. Looking to get rid of unwanted body acne? I've gathered up 11 body acne treatments below.
1. Shower With An Antifungal Body Wash
This antifungal body wash is loaded with ingredients designed to clear back and chest acne, from tea tree oil to soothing aloe. This multitasking soap is great for remedying fungus and acne of all kinds, from nail fungus to athlete's foot to bacne. The formula is also packed with antioxidants and vitamins that restore moisture to your skin, helping to clear some of the dry skin that often accompanies acne. And, best of all? It boasts over 8,000 Amazon reviews and a $15 price tag. I'll let the reviews speak for themselves.
According to one person with body acne: "Works on clearing up back acne!! Love this tea tree oil body wash. It helped clear my back acne up. It [costs] less than those expensive acne body washes that dont really work. Always dry your skin out and make your acne worse. Will be purchasing again."
2. Spot Treat With A Body Acne Treatment
With rave reviews, this powerful spot treatment will work to dry out acne (even cystic acne!) all over your body. It's formulated with antibacterial and antifungal tea tree oil, plant extracts, and vitamin E, to repair irritated skin. Apply a dab of this to your toughest chest and back acne each night before bed and wait as it starts to work. Reviewers have noticed a huge difference to their body acne in just a few uses. Even better, since it's free of benzoyl peroxide, you don't have to worry about it damaging any of your sheets or linens.
According to one person with body acne: "I’ve been using this for about a month on my face, chest, and back, and it’s made a huge difference. I use it twice a day, once in the morning and again and night"
3. Exfoliate With A Gentle Shower Cloth
Exfoliation is so important when you suffer from body acne, as high cell turnover can clog your pores with dead skin and lead to more breakouts. That's where this exfoliating shower towel comes into play. Similar to a loofah, this porous towel provides gentle physical exfoliation to rub away dry skin on your body. Use this to spread body wash over your affected areas while showering or in the bath. Reviewers swear that with consistent use, this towel can clear up body acne once and for all.
According to one person with body acne: "I wish I knew about this shower cloth years ago. I have body acne and now that I am using this my body acne has diminished or disappeared completely. I bought one for my daughter as well because she's an athlete and its helpful to her skin as well."
4. Apply A Body Lotion With Exfoliating AHAs
All skin types benefit from regular exfoliation, which removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores to prevent acne, but it can be tricky to find exfoliants that won't cause dryness or irritation. And that's where this body lotion exfoliant works like a dream: It contains 10% alpha hydroxy acids for gentle chemical exfoliation, as well as hydrating antioxidants and vitamin C, which brightens skin and helps heal acne scars.
According to one person with body acne: "I'm in my mid-40s, and was suddenly having acne that I hadn't had since my teens. And on my upper chest and shoulders now, too, which was completely new. This cream was gentle but within DAYS cleared up my skin. I use it maybe a twice a week now, but my skin is clear and it doesn't feel drying. I'm very pleased."
5. Spray Your Body With An Acne Body Spray
Use this back and body acne spray daily on clean skin and you might find yourself among the many satisfied reviewers who experience less body acne, redness, and irritation — even in hard to reach spots like the back of legs and upper back. This spray contains 2% salicylic acid, which is known for kicking acne's butt, and is 100% fragrance free and non-irritating.
According to one person with body acne: "I have tried so many different things for my back. SO MANY!!! I was growing more and more self conscious of my back acne as it grew worse and worse. I’ve tried Acutane, topicals, peroxide body washes, chemical peels, wholistic methods like tea tree oil and African black soap, nothing worked!! I bought this spray as a last ditch effort to find anything to stop the cystic breakouts and this really works!!! This is the only thing that has worked for me. I’m so beyond relived I tried this."
6. Try A Charcoal Bar Soap
Affordable, effective, and loaded with moisturizing, soothing ingredients like Shea butter, lemongrass, and lavender, this charcoal soap bar can be used on your face and body to naturally kill bacteria and fungus and keep skin free of acne. It's also free of parabens, sulfates, fragrances, dyes, and GMOs and is heavenly on all skin types, including sensitive skin. It's hardly a surprise that it's won over nearly 1,500 Amazon reviewers.
According to one person with body acne: "Amazing for body acne! If you have problem areas this soap will resolve it. Leaves the skin soft and moisturized. Love it!"
7. Apply This Gentle Lotion Designed For Butt Acne
Finally — an acne clearing lotion rich in alpha hydroxy acids and arnica and calendula (to soothe inflammation) that is made especially for your butt. Acne on your rear is a special kind of pain in the rear, which is why it's nice to know this sulfate- and fragrance-free lotion, which can be applied daily, has worked for so many reviewers, who say it leaves your butt smooth and pimple-free in as little as a few weeks.
According to one person with body acne: "I was dealing with acne on my buttocks for about 4 years. I decided to give this product a try and it cleared the acne. I have been using this now for about a year and all of my acne marks are gone too. Plus my butt is now super soft. I will continue to use this for life."
8. Slough Off Dead Skin With A Body Scrub
This best-selling Himalayan salt scrub is a favorite amongst reviewers who are dealing with body acne. In fact, nearly 2,500 fans have taken to Amazon to praise how well this formula works on acne on your face and your body. Himalayan salt is also naturally antiseptic, so it'll help prevent the inflammation and infection that can occur when bacteria comes in contact with your acne. Exfoliate with this scrub daily in the shower or the bath and, according to reviewers, you'll see results fast.
According to one person with body acne: "I’m a woman who has acne on chest for 20yrs, I hate it and I want to remove it. I’ve been trying all kinds of stuff, nothing worked. Oh my goodness, one day I started to use this for my chest, all acne was gone completely next day. It’s unbelievable! I bought this couple months ago, I’m very cautious about writing reviews because I believe it takes time to find what’s right and wrong about product. This is seriously a jackpot for me. Try this if you have body acne."
9. Use Glycolic Acid Pads On Your Chest & Back
These exfoliating pads may be a bit pricier than other options on this list (you get 50 pads for $25 with this package), but Amazon reviewers swear this worked wonders on shoulder, chest, and back acne. Each pad is soaked with a powerful 20% glycolic acid solution that exfoliates your skin, clearing your pores of oil and dirt in the process. With repeated use, many fans of this body acne solution say that you can see results in just a few weeks.
According to one person with body acne: "I bought this product after I started getting awful breakouts on my shoulders. The breakouts were worse than I’d ever had so I used these pads on my shoulders each night after the shower. Then I applied a lightweight moisturizer about half hour later. Within about three weeks my acne was gone entirely. Due to the 20% strength I haven’t tried on my face but for shoulders and arms this was fine for daily use. Would purchase again in a heartbeat."
10. Spray Your Pillows & Sheets With Antibacterial Linen Spray
Regardless of whether acne is affecting your face, your chest, or your back, disinfecting your linens with an antibacterial pillow mist like this one from Divastuff is a smart move. While technically a pillow mist, this spray can be applied to your entire bed, and has proved to be a game-changer for people whose acne comes in contact with their sheets often.
According to one person with acne: "I spray all over my pillows and sheets before my shower, come back and sleep on with no problems. I can even apply to my face (the packaging says you can) and have no reaction! I have noticed a decrease in acne and love the pleasant smell when going to bed!"
11. Change Out Your Sheets Frequently & Invest In Cooling, Non-Absorbent Linens
Amongst all the creams, spot treatments, and sprays, you may want to consider which linens you sleep on. Back and chest acne most likely will come in contact with your sheets, and investing in sheets that will keep you cool at night, and ones that don't absorb sweat and oils is key. In addition to regularly washing your sheets (at least once a week), a lightweight microfiber sheets will minimize the likelihood that you sweat throughout the night, and prevent dirt and oil from transferring from your sheets to your body while you sleep. And, since they're an affordable $25, you can invest in a few sets and swap them out each week.
According to one person with acne: "Very thin sheets, but they work great. Also this material is fade-resistant and does not get bleached by my benzoyl peroxide-containing acne medicine. Worth it."
You Might Also Want To: Reevaluate Your Shaving Routine
Since some body acne can be caused by irritation from shaving, you may want to consider if that applies to you. As mentioned earlier, folliculitis often has the appearance of body acne, and likely won't respond to many of the topical creams and products above. If your body acne appears to be folliculitis, you should reduce how often you shave, look for shaving cream formulas that suit sensitive skin, or consult your doctor or dermatologist. Here are some shaving tips to avoid razor bumps or follicle irritation.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.
This article was originally published on