The days are longer, the weather’s warmer, and summer vacations are upon us, which means swimsuit season has officially arrived. And while there’s a lot to love about this season, there are also back and body acne problems that arise for many during this time, which happen to be on full display in your bathing suit.
The good news is, there are a number of simple things you can do to get a handle on this unsightly problem so that you can strut in your suit with total confidence.
What Causes Back and Body Acne?
Different people get body acne for different reasons, so it’s helpful to understand the likely culprits behind it so you can hone in on the best prevention techniques for you. Generally speaking, acne results from a combination of clogged pores, excess oil, and bacteria, but there are a few lifestyle factors that can exacerbate it.
Sweat does not cause Acne directly
One of the reasons that back and body acne tends to get worse in the summer is due to an increase in sweating. To be clear, though, sweating doesn’t cause acne directly; it just makes it easier for acne to pop up. The beads of sweat on your skin provide the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria, dirt, and oil to stick to it and ultimately lead to breakouts.
What you wear is another factor that can have a significant impact on body acne. Friction from tight clothing can cause often-imperceptible breaks in your skin that bacteria can then enter and lead to a breakout. Furthermore, the type of fabric can also contribute to breakouts, with less breathable fabrics making it easier to trap acne-causing bacteria on the skin.
Sweat + Clothing
Not only do sweat and clothing contribute to acne separately, but the combination of the two can lead to a specific kind of acne called acne mechanica. Friction from clothing paired with moisture from sweat causes this type of acne to arise. This is why a lot of athletes find they have breakouts where their clothes rub most against the skin, such as on the forehead from wearing a baseball cap.
How to Prevent Back and Body Acne
Now that you know the primary factors that lead to body acne, the following acne prevention techniques will probably make a lot of sense.
Use a Proper Cleansing Solution
In the world of acne prevention, not all cleansers are created equally. In fact, some can even make the problem worse. A proper body acne solution should be non-drying, free of irritating fragrance, be antimicrobial (AKA anti-acne-causing bacteria) and contain an acne-fighting ingredient such as salicylic acid.
Cleanse at the Right Time
The longer bacteria sits on your skin, the more closely it bonds with it, making it increasingly difficult to remove. That said, you should always cleanse within one hour of doing anything that makes you sweat. Wait any longer and it becomes harder to slough off that bacteria.
Dead skin cells love to trap acne-causing bacteria on your skin, so exfoliating them off regularly is a great prevention technique for acne prone skin. However, rather than reach for your loofah and scrub away, which can irritate your skin, use a cleanser with a mild chemical exfoliant instead. Ideally, that exfoliant is salicylic acid as it will gently exfoliate at the same time it actively fights bacteria.
Avoid Tight Clothing
As mentioned, the friction from tight clothing often leads to acne so your best bet is to avoid it. But if tight clothing is unavoidable, take care to wear breathable fabrics, like cotton, that wick away sweat and bacteria rather than trap it on the skin.
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