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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: When the weather is nice, I enjoy being outdoors and being active, including walking, swimming and boating. I prefer to wear scoop-neck T-shirts, but I am embarrassed about breakouts on my chest. I am noticing some on my back, too. Other than covering up, what can I do about acne on my body?
ANSWER: Acne is a skin condition that nearly everyone deals with at some point. It is caused by the accumulation of dead skin cells that blocks your pores and leads to an abundance of a bacteria called propionibacterium acne. As a result, your skin becomes inflamed, and whiteheads, blackheads or pimples form.
Unfortunately, acne has no boundaries. It is more common for teenagers, but it can affect people of all ages and about equally between men and women. Acne can appear anywhere you have oil glands in your skin, so it can occur on your back, face, stomach or chest.
Body acne is not the result of poor hygiene. It is not caused by dirty skin, and it can be made worse with harsh soap or chemicals and rough scrubbing. While body acne can be irritating, painful and embarrassing, various treatments and lifestyle changes can relieve this common skin problem.
Several factors can cause or worsen body acne, including:
Many treatments are available for body acne that can help avoid skin scars, make acne less noticeable and lower the emotional stress it can cause.
Typical treatments for body acne include:
You can relieve body acne by making dietary and lifestyle changes, such as:
If you think you have body acne, you should seek care. Your health care professional can determine how severe your case is, recommend the best treatment and possibly refer you to a dermatologist.
If an initial treatment doesn't produce results, your health care team can help find a solution that works best for you so you can bare your skin without a care. — Amanda Logan, Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System, Janesville, Minnesota
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