SEEN Science: The 411 on Bacne

Our monthly quick dive into a skin-related micro-topic with SEEN co-founder and derm-in-residence Dr. Iris Rubin.

As if experiencing breakouts on your face isn’t exasperating enough, there is also the possibility that your body may suffer the same indignity. And, according to Dr. Iris Rubin, acne on your body happens much the same way it does on the face.

“Acne on the face – and other parts of the body – forms when the pores get clogged by sebum and dead skin cells,” says Rubin. “A bacteria called c. acnes (formerly p. acnes), which lives on the skin, can also make its way into the clogged pore and multiply, leading to inflammation.”

The back is the most common area of the body for acne to rear its head, but the chest, shoulder, and buttocks are also susceptible. And while genetics (thank you mom and dad) and hormones can predetermine much of your bacne fate, the products lining your shower shelves matter too. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is not realizing that their products can cause their body acne,” says Rubin, who adds that you should look for soap, body wash, lotion, and hair products labeled “non-comedogenic” to ensure that they won’t clog pores.

And your hair products can be a major offender. “People tend to think that hair products, just rinse off the hair in the shower. But shampoo and conditioner rinse down the face, chest, and back in the shower, depositing an invisible film on the skin. And leave-in styling products by design leave a residue that will transfer from your hair to your skin,” adds Rubin. “I was breaking out well into my thirties from my hair care products, which was the reason why I created SEEN skin-caring hair care products that are clinically proven to be non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and won’t cause breakouts.”

If you haven’t made the switch yet to non-comedogenic hair and body products and are already dealing with bacne, Rubin’s advice is to first try a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid wash. “For body acne, I always recommend a wash to start since it can be easier to apply than a topical cream. It’s best to use a wash in breakout-prone areas regularly to try to prevent breakouts.” And be wary of over-scrubbing: “It’s a big mistake people make and it can dry and irritate the skin, potentially making body acne worse.”

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