September 16, 2015

7 Ways to Clear Adult Backne


Back and Chest Acne in Adults

Clearing back acne breakouts in adults by finding the cause first


In the 17+ years of experience in skincare and acne clearing, I have observed that chest and back acne in adults is often completely baffling to the person going through this. 

As explained previously, acne in adults often hits with little prior history, if there’s any history at all, which is why it differs from teen acne so much of the time.  It can be such a total mystery for them, their skin has become completely jacked up from all the wrong products and medications by the time they contact me.   Body acne in the average adult occurs quite the same way - - with little to no previous experience with it.

I have found that there are a few surprising aggravators of body acne, besides the obvious stress factors and drastic hormonal changes of life. 

Your acne breakouts do not necessarily reflect a hormonal imbalance in your bodyThough it does happen, of course, I think that true, medically based hormonal imbalances (ie not just “it’s gotta be hormonal” kind of thing) are to be blamed a small minority of the time.  This is the reason I ask questions about the client’s cycle, moods and any new body hair growth before I start exploring the possibility.  There is so much more to hormonal imbalances than just acne showing up.


More Testosterone = More Oil


It's important to understand that technically all acne is “hormonal”.  Testosterone is responsible for oil production in the skin, which means any time testosterone increases in the body in comparison to estrogen (we're talking ratio here, so it's not just an increase in male hormone - the higher level of testosterone can happen simply because estrogen has fallen), oil production in the skin will increase.

Whether acne becomes a real problem will depend on how a person’s pores deal with that excess oil and if there is a co-existing excess build-up of dead skin cells.  Both of these create the impactions known as blackheads, and all blemishes start out as blackheads.


So what are these aggravators that contribute to acne formation on the chest and back?


The majority of the time the problem stems from the ol’ pore clogging from various sources.  First in line are pore clogging ingredients from body lotions, butters and oils, and then up next are hair conditioners rinsing down the back and hair styling products being smushed all over the ends and brushing against the upper back and shoulders. 

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets leave a film on clothes and bedding that can clog pores leading to body breakoutsWhat you may not know is that dryer sheets and fabric softeners leave a residue (yup!) that clogs pores like crazy.  This residue serves the purpose of causing clothes to brush past each other in your dryer so they don’t stick together to make static.

There are also some bronzing ingredients in many self-tanning products that irritate and clog, not to mention some base ingredients in self-tanning lotions you apply at home.

Another thing to consider in trying to solve this mystery is new pressure and friction the skin never dealt with as much before.  Examples include sitting for long periods and leaning back in an office chair or car (new job?), sleeping on your side (which may be nothing new, but have you gained any weight in the last year or so?), or using gym equipment starting on a new workout routine.  

One thing I have learned through the years that I’ve been working to clear breakouts, and even with all the waxing I’ve done, is that the body absolutely **hates** change.  Skin just hates being messed with.  Too much rubbing or pressing will cause increased oil production, increased dead skin cell production, inflammation and swelling.  Boom.  Breakout.

I had one client who started breaking out horribly on her chest and upper arms when it was never a problem before.  What was new?  She started bodybuilding, which increased the testosterone in her system, and all of a sudden she was a broken out grease pit.  It was on this skin that she was using bronzing self-tanners and body butters. 


Too much Biotin can aggravate adult acne breakouts


Another client wanted to do something about hair she had started losing on her head and nails that had become brittle because of simply getting older.  So she started taking large doses of Biotin.  Biotin in large amounts can actually aggravate acne horribly.  No matter what we did, she wasn’t getting clear - until I asked her what supplements she was taking and she agreed to stop taking the Biotin.  Other supplements to stay away from; kelp, iodine, and in some people, whey protein. 


So the only question at this point is why the problem has started where there wasn’t before?


That is where new excess oil production from internal issues will cause an environment that makes pore clogging, pore irritation and mechanical annoyances an issue.  What didn’t bother pores before really bothers them now.  New excess oil production can come from completely normal system changes like mild stress, pregnancy, changes in contraceptive prescriptions and perimenopause.

Here's the kicker: so much of the time the problem is pore clogging from the various sources listed above, switching these things out actually solves most of the problem!  

When the problem is still persistent, and I see impactions from numerous blackheads, a back facial is helpful, often necessary.  But in a salon that specializes in adult acne, back facials being a rare thing is quite exceptional to say the least!  And yet, I’ve still managed to help people clear their body breakouts nonetheless. 

There are, of course, people with skin that is genetically so oily, the breakouts on their chest and back can simply be a continuation of the acne on their faces.  It’s important to note here that when the person is under the age of 23, it is indeed a part of the same genetic acne condition that is causing problems on the face.  But when it either continues long after that, or when it’s a relatively new issue, that’s when I start asking questions about other symptoms.


List of 7 Ways to Clear Adult Bacne on The Acne Whisperer Blog
Here are a few guidelines when dealing with a body acne problem:

~ All types of fabric softener, sheets or liquid, can leave a pore clogging film on the body.  Use rubber dryer balls instead. 

~  Many rinse-out hair conditioners have pore clogging ingredients that wash down your back and shoulders, which if left on your skin can lead to breakouts.  I have a list of skin-safe hair care that I am thrilled to send if you contact me.

~ Take a quick shower before working out, and make sure you shower thoroughly right after!  Do not drive home without showering - the moisture and salts from your sweat will irritate skin as your shirt creates friction against you.

~ Wash with an exfoliating, medicated body wash using a pair of exfoliating body spa gloves, massaging with gentle, circular motions.  After drying off, follow every other night with a not too thin not too thick layer of 5% Benzoyl Peroxide, let dry.  Be aware that BPO can bleach clothes and sheets, so it's a good idea to wear a white t-shirt to bed.

~ If you need to moisturize, a really good choice is Cerave Moisturizing Lotion, even though it says it's for face, which I don't recommend since it's quite heavy, but it's perfect for body.  I also have a glycolic acid hydrating lotion that’s specifically designed to help clear body breakouts.

~ For sunscreen, a good choice is a non-clogging, hydrating lotion of SPF from a salon, as it's the safest way to make sure you don't end up re-clogging your skin.  It might be pricier, but it'll be worth it.  Hydrating, broad-spectrum SPF lotions that are also non-clogging are really hard to find.

~ Make sure you don't wear anything that doesn't fit properly whether snug or loose, or that doesn't scratch or cause a lot of friction.  Be mindful of bra straps, shoulder straps and leaning back into a chair for much of the day.

For a more info plus details on getting a great skin care routine for this problem, please visit my advice page on body acne.




Your acne problem has a source, and clearing your skin requires finding that source and either eliminating it or healing it.  You can start that right now by filling out my Eval by Email® Online Skincare Consultation Form created specially for ages Gen-Y to Baby Boom!




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