How to Treat (and Prevent) Body Acne This Summer

Shannon Farrell
how to get rid of body acne

Photo: Karwai Tang / WireImage

Let’s face it: if there’s one thing you don’t want this summer, it’s body acne. Blemishes on your back, chest and derriere can really cramp your warm weather style, and when you’re living in sundresses, they’re practically impossible to hide.

So what’s causing your body acne? Dr. Jeff Birchall, cosmetic dermatologist and owner of Dermacare Laser and Skin Care Clinics in San Diego, tells us that our summer lifestyles are partially to blame. Dr. Birchall cites using the incorrect type of sunscreen for your skin type as the main offender, because it’ll clog pores—leading to potential breakouts.

“Add this to the sweat that covers your skin from partaking in any outdoor activities, and those pesky bumps will start popping up everywhere,” he says. The other summer skin killer: the pool. “Chlorinated water contains chemicals that wash away all of the body’s natural oils, causing the skin to be excessively dry, and therefore acne-prone.”

So what can you do to treat—or better yet, prevent—summer body acne? Follow these doctor-approved tips, of course! Here’s how to get rid of body acne (and make sure it stays gone for good).

The issue: Bacne.
Yes, back acne happens all year round, but it’s the biggest pain in our bums in the summer. Hey, we have backless dresses we need to wear!

To prevent: Exfoliate your body at least once a week, using a gentle-bristled scrub brush to reach all of the hard-to-reach spots on your back.

To treat: “For blackheads and little red bumps, wash with a mild salicylic acid cleanser,” says dermatologist Dr. David Bank, author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age. “Also dab on a 2.5 to 10 percent benzoyl peroxide treatment to spot-treat.”

And if you’ve done all of this and your back acne persists, start a load of laundry. “Clean those sheets, pillowcases and all your wardrobe staples regularly with a fragrance-free detergent safe for sensitive skin,” says Bosselman, who cites these as bacteria feeding grounds.

The issue: Chest Acne.

“The skin on your upper chest, or décolleté, is very delicate and contains fewer sebaceous glands than the face,” says Dr. Bank. “Consequently, oil and sweat can build up, especially after workouts or sweating in the summertime heat, resulting in chest pimples.”

To prevent: First off, never let sweat sit. Rinse off immediately after working out, or even just hanging outside. If you can’t get to a shower, use a very gentle makeup wipe to cleanse your chest and make sure no pores are being blocked.

To treat: Dr. Bank recommends using an over-the-counter 2.5 to 10 percent benzoyl peroxide product that’s tinted so it works as a concealer while the skin heals.

The issue: Neck Acne.
“Neck acne may increase in the summer due to the mix of sunscreen, sweat and hair products running down during these hot months,” says Dr. Birchall.

To prevent: “Choose a body wash—not a face wash—that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide,” says Andy Bosselman, founder of genius skincare line Arithmetic. “This will help to exfoliate and unclog the pores. But don’t scrub harshly. This will only increase inflammation,” he warns. And when it comes to sunscreen, oil-free is always best.

To treat: “If you are still experiencing problems, you may want to consider getting acne facials for the back and neck,” says Dr. Birchall. His skin care clinics offer targeted treatments that extract already-present acne by penetrating deep into the pores with bacteria-fighting serums.

The issue: Butt acne.
Yep, we went there. It’s bikini season, and since many suits show a little more skin than would normally see sunlight, a bumpy bum isn’t ideal. The main cause, says Dr. Bank, is tight-fitting clothes that slow the skin’s natural exfoliating process. “Normally, bacteria sits on the skin, but tight-fitting clothing can rub the bacteria back down into the pores and cause breakouts.”

The issue: The simplest solution: wear looser-fitting clothing. Yeah, no fun. “Another remedy is to avoid using fabric softeners in the dryer because the fibers left on your underwear can further irritate the skin,” says Dr. Bank. Who knew?

To treat: Dr. Bank recommends using antibacterial soap or an AHA exfoliator to speed exfoliation and help clear up your bum-bumps in no time flat.

The issue: Bikini line acne.
The red bumps along the bikini line may look like acne, but technically they’re folliculitis. “This is a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed and can get infected. It’s caused by over-shaving of the area,” Dr. Birchall tells us.

To prevent: Put simply, take a break from the razor. Dr. Birchall recommends laser hair removal, which is much less irritating. “If you absolutely have to shave, make sure you are thoroughly lathering the area with gentle shaving gel before you do.”

To treat: Sad news, everyone. When folliculitis persists, going cold turkey on shaving is the only proven fix.

And that’s that! Follow these tips for your clearest, most glowing summer skin ever.

More from Daily Makeover: 15 Ways to Get Rid of Redness On Your Face