Today’s Question: I want to wear tank tops this summer, but am so embarrassed by my back acne that I won’t. What do you suggest to help clear it up? Laura, Warsaw
A. Summertime means picnics, reunions and fireworks, but also bathing suits and tank tops. For those like you, Laura, who struggle with back acne, wearing those summer staples can leave you feeling embarrassed, self-conscious and frustrated. While unfortunately there is no overnight miracle cure for body acne, there are proactive steps you can take to combat the back acne you have and prevent future breakouts.
First, try washing the area with a salicylic cleanse such as Obagi’s Daily Care Foaming Cleanser. This medicated cleanser will help exfoliate off the dead skin and clean out the clogged pores causing the acne. If you have a hard time reaching the areas affected or want an even deeper treatment, I recommend using a Clarisonic Pro sonic cleansing brush. They make them with brushes designed specifically for your body as well as with extension handles making it even simpler to treat those easy to miss areas.
Laura, I also recommend having monthly chemical peels on your back to treat the acne. Chemical peels contain such ingredients as lactic acid and salicylic acid among others to help repair and reduce breakouts, control oil and provide a more even skin texture. If your back acne has left you with pigmentation scarring that needs lightened, many chemical peels contain ingredients that will help lighten those spots over time as well.
Another simple treatment option to try is if you exercise, be sure you are taking a shower soon after you finish your workout. Sitting around with your sweat trapped by your clothing against your back leads your pores to become clogged which can cause additional breakouts. Also, be sure you are changing the sheets on your bed at least once a week to keep those trouble areas as clean as possible.
Finally, Laura, please do not buy into the myth that sun tanning will clear up your back acne. While it may seem to be curing it temporarily by disguising the acne, not only is this the most harmful practice you can take against your skin, but it will actually cause more breakouts in the future. The sun or tanning beds will dry out your skin creating even more dead skin cells that will sit on top of your skin. This creates a higher chance for your pores to become clogged with the dead skin as it mixes with oil, sweat, dirt and bacteria to make even more acne.
Remember, Laura, “give acne-fighting products enough time to work. As a rule of thumb, it takes six to eight weeks before you begin to see an improvement,” according to the American Academy of Dermatology. “Improvement does not mean blemish-free skin, but a noticeable difference. It generally takes about six months to see clear skin.”
If you have any other questions about your back acne or want more information, be sure to talk with your medical skin care professional.
Jennifer Kauffman is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner, practicing in Warsaw and Ft. Wayne. She is a sought after speaker at medical conferences such as the American Academy of Plastic Surgeons. Jennifer is a member of American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Coalition of Advance Practice Nurses of Indiana. She received her Nursing and Nurse Practitioner degrees from Goshen College, and Indiana Wesleyan University. Jennifer is a Clinical Instructor nationally to physicians and nurses on sclerotherapy.
Do you have a question for Jennifer, about this article or another cosmetic skin care issue? Please call Vein Institute & Medical Spa at 574-267-1900 to have your questions answered and considered for future columns. Questions can also be submitted online at www.veinmedicalspa.com.