Effective ways to treat body acne?

As embarrassing as this is to admit, I have really bad body acne. It's not so bad on my face, but it's definitely a problem on my back, my shoulders, my chest, and even my neck. It's getting to the point where it's brought my confidence down so much that I try to avoid anything that shows my back at all - swimsuits, tanktops, strapless dresses. 

I'm already on birth control (I know that's a touchy thing for some people for it's honestly for my acne), I use the Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash, I try not to wear things that are too tight or potentially bad for my skin, and I even put my hair up in the shower when I have conditioner in it. 

Last year, a dermatologist put me on doxycycline - which if you've tried it, you know what a living hell it is. It made my skin so sensitive to the sun that my knuckles burnt when I was outside for fifteen minutes. Also, you can't have dairy like two hours before or after taking it, and you have to wait about thirty minutes after taking it to lay down. It's needless to say that it was too high maintenance, so I stopped taking it. I'm really not comfortable taking Accutane because of all the side effects and whatnot, but I really need to solve this problem. I don't work out at all, and I don't always eat so healthy (I don't have any weight issues as a result of this, thank god, but I honestly have trouble running two blocks or walking up stairs), but I know that's probably factoring into my skin. I'm sixteen years old and I really need to get rid of this. I know what a schpeel this has been, but if anyone has any advice for this or miracle products (not including proactiv and accutane) it's  greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much!

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For Acne on your back & shoulders I would recommend Proactiv body scrub (I think they call it "Deep cleansing wash"). It has similar properties to their face wash but with fewer ingredients. It contains salicylic acid to combat acne, and it has a micro-exfoliating agent in it, so be careful not to scrub too hard. If you're able to reach your mid & upper-back to apply it, great. If not, I would not recommend using a traditional back brush or loofa. Instead, try a cream-applicator brush like the one shown below which is an AquaBella Easy Lotion Applicator. It has a smooth pad on the end of the brush which will allow you to apply the product to those hard-to-reach areas & rub it in. This particular one cost about $7, and you can just Google the name of it and you'll find millions of them. After you've showered & thoroughly washed the affected areas, be sure to rinse well so as not to leave any soap residue on your skin, which will lead to irritation and inflammation (and we're trying to avoid that here!). Do not use scalding hot water--higher heat does not provide any additional benefit--in fact hot water tends to leave skin parched,  which may sound like a good thing when it comes to treating break-outs, but trust me--hot water does not help clear acne . Another misconception that many people have about acne is that it will be made worse if you use a moisturizer. This is not true--dry skin is more prone to irritation & inflammation, especially if your clothing is rubbing it all day. Acne is caused by excess oil and/or dead skin cells blocking pores. If the skin is stripped of moisture, it will increase the dead skin cells on the surface, and your skin will compensate by producing more oil. Excess oil & dead skin cells block pores....and so the vicious cycle continues. That is why it is necessary to exfoliate your skin to get rid of those dead skin cells, and to utilize a cleanser that has acne-fighting agents like Salicylic Acid or Benzoperoxide. So, after you've washed and exfoliated in your not-too-hot shower, pat the affected area dry (don't rub it--we're avoiding irritating your skin). Instead of using a traditional toner (most of which contain alcohol, which strips your skin of moisture and thus forcing your skin to produce more oil to compensate) I would recommend patting the affected areas with Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel has been used effectively to combat skin problems for a long time--most people don't realize that its likely among the ingredients of some of the higher-end, alcohol-free toners. The best part is that Witch Hazel is RIDICULOUSLY inexpensive. In its pure form you can find it in most drug stores along with the bottles of Rubbing Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide. A big bottle of Witch Hazel will run you about $5--some formulas contain Aloe or a small amount of Alcohol, but it really doesn't make a big difference which formulation you select. After you've applied the Witch Hazel and allowed it to dry, I recommend that you apply a lotion with acne-fighting agents in it. There are a variety to choose from at any drug store--just make sure that the lotion you choose is "Non-Comedogenic" (i.e.. won't clog pores). If you can't f find an anti-acne moisturizer specifically for your body, resist buying the tiny bottle of moisturizer for your face--you're  wasting your money. Look for a moisturizer for sensitive skin, or a gel-type moisturizer. Avoid those that contain alcohol (as many do) and look for ingredients like aloe vera. You'll be safe with a Non Comedogenic, sensitive skin moisturizer, just avoid those that advertise that they are for "extra-dry" skin--those are typically heavier formulas, you'll need something light.


Try to do this regimen at least 2-3 times per week, or preferably every time you shower. Even after your acne clears, I would still recommend you keep up this routine but you can switch to a different type of body wash, and use Witch Hazel whenever your skin gets irritated in any of your acne-prone areas of skin.


Finally, a few tips:

  • When you wash your hair, remember to rinse off your neck, back, etc.  Better still, try to cleanse your back & shoulders after washing your hair so that none of the stuff for your hair ends up on your acne-prone areas.
  • If you use hair products, make sure that you avoid getting product onto your skin (i.e.. hair-spray over-spray, for example). Try to wrap a hand towel around your neck & clip it in the front (like your stylist does when you get your hair done) which will protect your skin from any hair products you may be using.
  • If you frequently wear your hair down, remember that whatever is in your hair is rubbing onto your skin if your skin is exposed. Try to wear your hair up as much as possible while your breakouts clear up--and if you're too embarrassed to show the back of your neck, at least wear your hair up when you're at home or at night while you sleep.
  • Think about the clothing that you wear; the best thing to wear right after you've treated your skin is a 100% cotton, loosely fitting top. The cotton will allow your freshly-treated skin to breathe--just make sure that you've let your lotion  dry completely--otherwise your shirt will absorb the lotion right off your skin.
  • Along the same line, try to wear tops that breath as a rule--some polyester blends, satin, PVC, nylon, wool, spandex, and some others may keep your skin from breathing and locking in sweat or moisture, which will not help your condition.
  • Keep the things that come in contact with the affected areas clean--this includes your pillowcase, your bra, the shirt you're wearing, scarves, and your hair. Also if you wear jewelry that comes in contact with any affected areas, try to wear pure metals instead of "gold/silver tone"-type metals, as the latter are more likely to irritate your skin.
  • Resist the urge to pick! Doing so introduces bacteria from your fingers and under your fingernails to your already-irritated skin. Its also a sure-fire way to prolong the life of your pimple and will likley leave a scar. Similarly--avoid the urge to touch any of the affected areas--you'll just transfer any bacteria, lotion, or whatever else may be lingering on your hands to your acne-prone skin. Sit on your hands if you have to! Besides--watching someone pick at themselves is just plain nauseating!

And finally, use common sense--if you try something that causes you to react badly, stop using it. The products & product-types I've recommended here should not irritate your skin--but if they do, find an alternative.




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