Believe it or not, this pandemic stress-induced acne doesn’t only cause us maskne – it seems to have also led to the rise of body acne. For some reason, body care isn’t being normalised like face care with no one really talks about much about it. But don’t worry – Men’s Folio confirms that body acne is completely normal and if it’s any consolation, you’re certainly not alone.
“I have seen a surge in both facial and body acne during this pandemic. Acne has been one of the most common complaints in my practice recently,” says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Claire Chang. So, how do we treat this? According to Chang, the first thing to know about how to treat this problem is to fully understand the root cause.
Face acne and back acne share many similarities. Just like our skin, every pore on your body releases sebum, an oily substance that keeps your skin moisturised. But when that sebum gets trapped – along with any dirt and sweat – it can aggravate the pores. This leads to an inflammatory response of the skin causing pustules and bumps. Getting a cluster of breakouts outlining your waistband? Sebum is the culprit. The other im-pore-tant information about this outbreak is your back and chest are usually first to break out. Named as truncal acne, these two areas have elevated quantities of sebum glands; hence, acne tends to accumulate there relative to other areas.
In addition, the change of lifestyle due to the new normal is one of the major factors that causes this rise. “Sitting more than we usually would and pandemic-related stress may contribute to acne flares,” Chang continues. At-home workouts and the hot climate are not helping, either. Excessive sweats and no urgency to change out of sweaty clothes after a workout (because who’s changing right after a workout anymore?) can cause pores to clog. Plus, acne mechanica (aka irritation and blemishes caused by the friction of your favourite outfit especially athleisure and tight clothing against your skin) can also contribute to the problem.
One solution to get rid of bacne once and for all is if you exercise, swim or sweat, it’s recommended to quickly take a shower so to remove trapped sweat, dirt and oil could lead to clogged pores. When we sweat, a lot of it seeps into our clothing and if we keep that clothing on for a long period of time, a mixture of sweat and bacteria will make your acne and breakouts worse.
You’ll also want to swap your body wash to ones that contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These excellent zit zappers will fight acne and prevent bacteria that causes acne in the first place. We’re a big fan of PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash, which contains 10% of benzonyl peroxide to clear, treat and prevent acnes, while Dr Mona Gohara from Yale School of Medicine recommends using Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash as it cleanses and exfoliates to unclog those pores, thanks to its 8.8% of glycolic acid. If the products mentioned aren’t giving you the improvement you hope to achieve, we’d recommend making an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist who can give you a complete treatment plan.
As for all that couch friction, Chang offers a simple solution: make loose, breezy silhouettes your friend. Wearing tight-fitting clothes is a large contributing factor, so try laying off the skinny jeans or leggings for a bit (we know, sorry). Instead, opt for roomier pieces like wide-leg trousers and boxy tops to give your skin a break.
This story first appeared in the October 2021 issue of Men’s Folio Malaysia.