There is a wide variety of body acne treatments available. It is not just the face that can succumb to acne: the chest, back and even the buttocks can suffer too. The cause of body and back acne is similar to that of facial acne – an abnormality in the overproduction of sebum. However, very often clothing, perspiration and friction may irritate skin and cause acne breakouts.
The body acne treatment you choose will depend on the severity and the type of acne you have. The information below outlines the various body acne treatment options that you can consider.
1) Over-The-Counter Acne Skin Care And Topical Applications
You can first try using over-the-counter acne skin care and topical applications with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Cleaning your skin gently and properly guards against infection, especially after exercise. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. It is a key ingredient in many Clearasil and Neutrogena body acne treatment products such as acne wipes, bath gels, shampoos and ointments. Proactiv and PanOxyl skin care products contain benzoyl peroxide. If you prefer using natural products, choose skin care products containing tea tree oil.
Avoid choosing skin care products which are too harsh. This is because the chest is generally more sensitive than the back or buttocks to antiseptic washes. Irritation or rash on the chest may develop if the body acne treatment is too harsh. Avoid scrubbing at the skin with a loofah as this may also cause inflammation. Use a soft wash cloth instead. Pat, not rub, to dry your skin with a towel afterwards.
Topical applications containing benzoyl peroxide can be directly applied to blackheads, whiteheads and red inflamed spots either by yourself or with the help of a family member. Benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial agent which releases free oxygen radicals in the sebaceous follicles, ensuring bactericidal activity against the acne bacteria P.acnes which grows only in the absence of oxygen. Benzoyl peroxide also unclogs the pores and dries up oily skin. Apply benzoyl peroxide twenty to thirty minutes after you have washed your skin.
As benzoyl peroxide may cause excessive drying or irritation of your skin, choose products with the lowest concentration of benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide also has bleaching properties. Wear a cotton T-shirt to bed and change your pillowcases often if you plan to leave this body acne treatment on overnight. Avoid direct sunlight when using benzoyl peroxide as it increases your sensitivity to the sun, increasing the chances of sunburn and sun damage.
2) The Oral Contraceptive Pill
Doctors may prescribe Dianette or Diane 35 only for female patients who have severe acne which is resistant to conventional forms of acne treatment. This contraceptive pill reduces testosterone production and activation, and is effective in clearing acne in 40% of women.
This contraceptive pill may cause an acne flare-up in the first month and almost invariably stopping Dianette leads to a flare-up of acne. There are side effects as well, such as weight gain, bleeding and mood changes.
3) Isotretinoin (marketed as Accutane or Roaccutane)
Available as a gel (Isotrex gel) or in the stronger oral form, this is the most effective prescription retinoid treatment for treating severe acne that has not responded to conventional treatment and/or oral antibiotics. Isotretinoin is associated with birth defects, an increased risk of miscarriage and infant death and must not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In Europe, women can only be prescribed the drug for 30 days at a time after being checked that they are not pregnant.
Other side effects from using Accutane include conjunctivitis, dry or fragile skin, dry or cracked lips, dry mouth, dry nose, itching, joint pains, nosebleed, depression, fatigue, headache and nausea. When you first start taking Accutane, it is possible that your acne will get worse before it starts to get better.
4) Tretinoin (Retin-A)
Tretinoin or Retin-A is a prescription cream that is applied to the skin to treat acne. It is available in cream, gel, or liquid form, in concentrations of 0.01% to 0.1%. Gels are the most drying, and creams the least. It is advisable to start application sparingly, once a night at the lowest concentration, 20 – 30 minutes after washing the face.
The skin commonly becomes a little red and peels when treatment is first started: it adapts to the irritation and begins to improve after a few weeks. In addition, tretinoin may trigger a mild flareup of acne when treatment first begins. Limiting exposure to sunlight and using sunscreen are recommended, as some patients may develop increased sensitivity to sunlight while on treatment.
Pregnant women should avoid using Retin-A as it may pass from the mother to the foetus.
5) Oral Antiobiotics Such As Tetracycline
Tetracycline has a long track record of safety and effectiveness. The initial dosage is usually 500 mg twice daily, which is maintained until clear improvement is seen, which usually takes at least six weeks. After that, a lower dose may be used. Tetracycline absorption is affected by the presence of food and dairy products – it must be taken on an empty stomach, or at least one hour before meals.
Tetracycline can cause mild gastrointestinal trouble, such as diarrhea or vomiting. It can also cause discoloration of teeth in children. It may cause cause some inhibition of bone growth and discoloration of teeth in a fetus and therefore should be used by pregnant women, or by children whose teeth are not permanent.
6) Azelaic Acid
Doctors may prescribe creams with Azelaic acid as an alternative to acne patients who cannot tolerate benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoids. Azelaic acid not only helps to destroy bacteria, but also helps reduce the growth of keratin (surface skin cells), unblocks pores and sebaceous glands, and reduces the formation of comedones.
As there are side effects which accompany most treatments for body acne, it is best to inform your doctor about your pregnancy when you seek help to resolve your body acne. Before buying products for body acne treatment during pregnancy, always seek your doctor’s advice first before taking any medication during pregnancy, whether prescription or over-the-counter.
Primarily, it is best to stick to over-the-counter treatments for body acne. Products that contain benzoyl peroxide have been recommended safe for pregnant women to use. However, you may want to avoid products containing salicylic acid.