Having acne (or any other irritating skin condition or type of stressed out skin) can be upsetting and stressful. As well as the physical side of being prone to acne, it can cause us all kinds of emotional problems as we constantly battle against spots and acne breakouts.
Acne is one of the reasons we can become so upset with our skin that we can begin to withdraw from social events and become anxious or depressed about our appearance.
Trust us, we know. Being acne sufferers ourselves, we know what it is it to have skin that lets us down. (That’s why we developed our range of skin supporting cleansers and moisturisers featuring plant based, natural ingredients and alkalising silica salts. And we know they work, we’re living proof!)
Chest and Back Breakouts
Until now, we've just talked about how to treat acne on the face. However, face acne isn't the only type - it can affect other parts of the body, namely the chest and the back, and cause just as much distress and upset.
So for the rest of this article, we’re going to talk about acne on the back and chest - what causes it, the treatment options and how to get rid of acne for good.
What Does Chest and Back Acne Look Like?
Acne develops where the sebaceous glands, the glands that secrete the oily substance sebum (that we need for keeping our skin well hydrated), are more concentrated - namely the face, chest, shoulders and back.
Wherever acne develops, it will look the same and will appear as whiteheads, blackheads, red bumps called papules, pus filled pustules and cysts (angry looking, large pus filled lumps that can have a yellow appearance due to a build up of pus). You may experience some of these types of acne spots, or a mix of all of them.
Acne prone skin on the chest and back can also feel hot to the touch and look red and angry and may feel tender or painful if you touch it.
Do People With Acne Always Get Body Acne?
If you have acne prone skin on your face, you also have a higher chance of developing the condition on your chest and back. In fact, according to the NHS, around 15% of people with facial acne also have acne on their chest and more than half of people with acne also experience acne on the back.
What Causes Pimples on the Chest and Back?
Acne on the chest or the back is generally caused by the same factors as the acne that you might also suffer on your face. Quite often, body acne develops due to our genetics. If one or both of your parents have or have had acne, then you’ll have more chance of also having the condition. But most commonly, something else is involved...
Do Hormones Cause Acne on the Back and Chest?
One of the most common causes of your chest breakouts and spots on your back is likley to be your hormones. The male hormones, a group of hormones called androgens, are generally responsible for the development of acne. They’re present in both male and female bodies and if they’re circulating around the body in high levels, they can signal to the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum.
This overproduction of sebum can get trapped in the pores, causing a blockage and trapping dirt, old makeup, dead skin cells, pollution and skin bacteria inside. This blockage then leads to the development of the different types of acne spots mentioned above.
Going through puberty, being stressed, having your period, being pregnant or going through the perimenopause or the menopause all cause fluctuations in our levels of hormones, including the male androgen hormones. This is why you might notice your back or chest acne breakouts (or both) getting worse around these times.
Other Causes of Acne on Your Chest and Back
Sweat and friction can also cause acne, particularly on the back where your pores get clogged easily. Exercising and not showering immediately afterwards can clog pores and lead to acne spots, as can wearing manmade fabrics such as polyester that don’t allow the skin to breathe. (Opt for natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and hemp instead.)
Wearing a rucksack or tight fitting clothing can also cause trauma to the skin by friction and lead to the development of acne on your back and pimples on your chest.
Sometimes, long hair can contribute to acne on the chest or back, especially if your hair is oily or you use oils and serums in your hair. Aim to keep long hair tied up and away from these areas.
What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Chest Acne and Acne on My Back?
You can give your skin a chance at being happier by taking regular exercise (and showering soon afterwards to remove pore clogging sweat), staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, getting enough nourishing sleep and avoiding stress as much as possible.
All of these things support the skin, but if you have acne prone skin, then it won’t cure your skin of being susceptible to mild or severe acne breakouts. Instead, they will help to keep the skin healthy and nourished, and less likely to suffer acne spots.
Can I Use a Body Wash to Prevent Chest Acne?
It’s also important to get your skin care right. Just like the skin on your face, the skin on your chest and other parts of your body can be sensitive to harsh, chemical ingredients, so using natural body washes and moisturisers will help. Body washes that contain tea tree oil can also get rid of body acne.
Exfoliating with a gentle exfoliating body sponge or using a body product that contains the exfoliating ingredient salicylic acid can also help to clear the pores. Don’t be too vigorous and only aim to exfoliate once or twice a week as you could end up aggravating your skin and making acne worse.
How To Treat Acne on the Body
If you’re doing all of these holistic things to support your skin, and you’re using skin care products that are designed for your type of skin, you may need to go down the medical route to help treat your body acne or folliculitis (a type of infected acne).
There are certain medications and medicated topical products that can help remove dead skin cells, reduce sebum production and manage outbreaks.
Benzoyl peroxide is available from pharmacies in the form of lotions and creams. Use these with care and only on the affected area as they can dry the skin. Skin products that contain retinoids, a derivative of vitamin A can also be effective but again can cause irritation and dryness if overused. Antibacterial soaps for the chest and rest of the torso can be helpful for everyday cleansing.
Sometimes, oral antibiotics can help to kill the common skin bacteria that can lead to acne on the chest or back. Some women also find that taking the oral contraceptive pill helps to manage their acne symptoms by helping to regulate hormone levels.
With a little bit of trial and error, you can get your chest or back acne under control and feel happier in your own skin again!
Will Chest Acne Go Away on it's Own?
If you're struggling with severe acne with deep rooted spots and inflammation, it's unlikely that it'll clear up on its own. Treating chest acne for good can take time, but following our advice and using medicated body acne treatments on your chest, back and shoulders can help.
Will Acne on My Torso Cause Scarring?
A strict skincare routine for acne is the first step in helping to minimise both breakouts and scarring. But sometimes when acne develops on the chest area or back, it can cause some level of scarring.
Products that contain salicylic acid can help to minimise or reduce mild scarring. If your scarring is upsetting you, speak to a skin specialist who can discuss the possibility of further treatments such as laser or UV light treatment.
Acne Treatment: How to Stop Back and Chest Acne Returning
When it comes to acne in these areas, following our advice, especially on keeping the areas clean and avoiding too much friction, can help to minimise your breakouts and prevent acne returning. Some people experience acne mildly for a short time, others notice that it's more severe and sticks around longer. How yours develops will be personal to you and your circumstances.
For more advice on how to get rid of acne breakouts on your chest and on your back, speak to your GP about the medications we've suggested above if nothing else seems to be working.
How Do You Get Rid of Chest and Back Acne Fast?
Sadly, there is no quick fix, overnight miracle way to get rid of any kind of acne. Mild acne doesn't respond to one fast treatment, and it can take a while, especially for more severe cases. However, just like treating the acne that affects our faces, here at Sönd, we truly believe in the power of a holistic approach to treating acne that causes bumps on your chest and redness and spots on your back.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good fats and lean proteins, and keeping processed, high saturated fat, high salt, high sugar foods to a minimum will help to support healthy skin.
Following an acne skincare routine using Sönd alkalising skincare products can also help to support your facial skin.
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.