Much like the skin of the back, the skin of the chest, shoulders, and rest of the body is thicker than facial skin and can require the one-two punch of generous amounts of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide AND 10% glycolic acid to get acne under total control. Follow this Regimen—precisely—using any of the recommended over-the-counter products. You can expect results in weeks and completely clear skin in 3-4 months (or faster for many people).
Most people with facial acne have some amount of body acne as well. Body acne develops in a similar way to facial acne. However, the skin on the body can be thicker than that on the face and often has larger pores, making for more severe acne lesions at times.
Acne can develop anywhere on the body except for the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. That is because these are the only two areas which do not have sebaceous follicles where acne is formed. If you're wondering if the pus filled red marks on your check, shoulders, arms, legs, buttocks, or elsewhere are acne, chances are they just might be. If you are unsure, see a dermatologist for a diagnosis.
As with any type of acne, the exact cause of body acne remains unknown. However, we do know that irritation can make it worse. Anything that rubs against your skin can cause irritation. Damp, sweaty clothing combined with irritation tends to further aggravate acne.
Note: Our bodies are constantly in contact with various things and it is impossible to avoid irritation altogether. There is no need to obsess about avoiding irritation on the body. Rather, simply be aware of small changes you might be able to make and leave it at that. The Regimen should clear you up nicely and does not require you to avoid irritation altogether.
Treatment must continue until your body outgrows the disease, which the majority of people do for the most degree after adolescence.16-17 Aside from Accutane, there is no other oral or topical treatment for acne which produces long lasting remission of acne symptoms.18 However, ongoing treatment can get the skin completely clear and keep it that way for years if need be.
2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide The most effective treatment for most people aside from Accutane is benzoyl peroxide, which has been a mainstay of acne treatment since the 1930s, and for good reason. It is the only medication which can penetrate into the skin and deliver oxygen.19 Acne bacteria cannot live in the presence of oxygen, and benzoyl peroxide kills 99.9% of them almost instantly.20 However, for benzoyl peroxide to completely clear acne, it must be applied as outlined in The Regimenーgenerously, and in 2.5% strength. For many people, applying in this fashion allows them to suppress acne symptoms until their bout of acne naturally subsides.
Learn The Regimen [body] »
Accutane (isotretinoin) For severe, widespread, and potentially scarring acne, Accutane is an option. Isotretinoin is a systemic oral treatment which is taken for 15-20 weeks and produces long-term remission of acne symptoms in about 2/3 of people, but comes with a large range of side effects including causing severe birth defects, and must be administered in close partnership with your physician.21-22
Learn about Accutane »
† Women of Asian heritage and men and women of African heritage can respond to some antibiotics differently – if you fit into any of these categories, check with your physician if you decide to take antibiotics for your acne.
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I controlled my acne using the contraceptive pill for about 8 years, until constant headaches required me to stop to rule it out as a cause. At the time I was never particularly happy with my skin, always having a couple of spots, but after going off I remembered how depressing it is to have bad skin. After about 4 months off the pill, and a face like a pizza I finally went to the doctors to get some help clearing my acne. In New Zealand the Retrieve cream (0.05%) is under full subsidy so only cost $5. At first I thought my skin wasn't going to react negatively, but after about a fortnight...