How to Prevent Pimples in Weird Places

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The body never ceases to amaze. You thought pimples were exclusive to the face? Think again… Blemishes can pop up anywhere your body secretes sebum, anywhere there’s a hair, anywhere where your pores are easily occluded or skin easily irritated… in short, you can get pimples nearly everywhere, from your ears (ouch!) to your thighs, from your back to your rear.

The body is covered in dead skin cells. Many of us sweat constantly. Life gets stressful, and thus hormones go awry. For a lot of people, diet plays a factor. Heck, even having overly dry skin can send sebum production into overdrive, and then cause pores to clog. You get the picture.

But again, none of this is exclusive to the face. So, if you find yourself prone to acne around the body (whether it’s one-offs or more severe breakouts), then you need to know how to prevent back acne—and all types of body acne as well. Read on to ensure clear skin, from earlobe to toe.

How to Prevent Body Acne

1. Exfoliate regularly

Exfoliation is imperative for your face, and no less for your body. You need to remove any dead, past-its-prime skin in order to make way for the healthier skin and to keep pores clear. (Because those dead cells can easily get trapped in the pores, not to mention lead to some rough, dull patches of skin.) 

You have two means for the matter: physical scrubs, or chemical exfoliants. While different body parts may demand different methods, intensities, or formulations, here are some products you can apply nearly all over, from body scrubs to bar soaps to exfoliating wipes. (Use each as directed by the brand, please. Your most sensitive body parts will thank you.)

Baxter of California exfoliating body bar

Dr. Dennis Gross exfoliating body peel wipes

OUAI scalp and body scrub

2. Use non-comedogenic products, from soaps to lotions to sunscreens

No two guys will have the same reaction to one product, but some ingredients that are healing for most—like cocoa butter—might cause breakouts on sensitive skin. As such, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the term “comedogenic”. It refers to any ingredient or product that commonly causes comedones (pimples). There is an industry-standard “comedogenic scale” that rates products 0-5 on their likelihood of clogging pores (particularly in acne-prone individuals). The biggest culprits include cocoa butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, soybean oil, palm oil, moringa oil, marula oil, flaxseed oil, and carrot seed oil (all 4s) as well as wheat germ oil (5). Some products may contain trace amounts of these ingredients, and their likelihood of clogging pores may change based on this density or the quality used. The most important thing for you, as an acne-prone individual, is to look for products that promise to be non-comedogenic, or that are free of oils and cocoa or coconut butters. That being said, many oils and butters used in skincare are perfectly fine (shea butter, argan oil, safflower oil, and mineral oil are all 0s on the pore-clogging scale, for example).

Don’t stress too much about the finer details, but do give each prospective product a quick google to see if it has comedogenic potential. It’s a bigger concern for the products that rest permanently on the skin (like moisturizers and sunscreens).

CeraVe non-comedogenic face and body moisturizer

Neutrogena oil-free non-comedogenic body sunscreen SPF 30

3. Be diligent after shaving or waxing

Again, you should treat the skin on your body the same as you would on your face. This applies doubly to guys who are shaving or waxing, since the skin below your neck is often suffocated by clothing and more readily soaks in sweat all day. In a perfect world, you could get waxed, then lounge getting tea-tree-oil massages in an air-conditioned room for three days.

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