The Best Body Acne Treatments to Fight Blemishes from Head to Toe

September 17, 2021


Dermatologists explain what causes body acne and share the best products and tips to help treat it.


Breaking news: Blemishes can happen on areas besides your face. But at the end of the day, the difference between acne that crops up on your complexion and acne that shows up on your body is actually pretty minimal. In both cases, oil, bacteria, and clogged hair follicles all play a role, says Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. These breakouts can also
look the same no matter where they are found — yes, you can even experience whiteheads, blackheads, and swollen, red pimples on your body.

That being said, there are two big differentiating points with body acne. While, as a general rule of thumb, those who have acne on their face are more likely to have it on their body, Dr. Bhanusali notes that he sees more body acne in active patients (aka those who work out often and may not be able to shower immediately after). Annie Gonzalez, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami agrees: “When you let sweat sit on the skin for an extended period of time, it increases the likelihood of body acne breakouts.” (Blame a buildup of grime that can end up clogging pores.) It’s why breakouts below the chin often pop up on areas such as the back, chin, and booty — spots where your sweaty exercise clothes are in constant contact with your skin. In short, getting out of your leggings and sports bra and into the shower ASAP post-workout can go a long way in helping you keep your skin clear.

Body acne also differs from facial blemishes because it can be trickier to treat. “It’s very easy to apply treatment products on the face, but it’s harder to do so when you’re trying to reach the body,” says Dr. Gonzalez. The good news? You don’t need any type of unique acne-fighting ingredient for body breakouts. Both doctors recommend oil-dissolving salicylic acid and antibacterial benzoyl peroxide as two of the best options. And while a dedicated body product is great, you can also use many facial products on the skin below your chin — a boon if you’re trying to streamline your skin-care lineup. (Related: Amazon Buyers Say This Butt Acne Cream Works So Well, They ‘Can’t Believe Their Eyes’)

Keep scrolling for the 10 best body acne treatments to help combat breakouts, no matter where they may pop up.


Best Salicylic Acid Wash: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

According to Dr. Gonzalez, an acne-fighting body wash is one of the easiest ways to start targeting breakouts; after all, all you have to do is use it daily in the shower. This is one of her top picks, an affordable drugstore staple that contains a two-percent concentration of salicylic acid, which penetrates deep into pores to clean out oil and unclog them, she says.

Best Benzoyl Peroxide Wash: PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

Benzoyl peroxide is another one of the best acne-fighting ingredients. “It can help rid the skin of the bacteria that contribute to the production of acne,” says Dr. Gonzalez. (Though FYI, she does note that if your skin is on the sensitive side, salicylic acid tends to be better tolerated.) Here, it comes in a maximum strength 10-percent concentration, in a formula that’s meant for the face but can also be used on the body. It’s a favorite of Dr. Bhanusali’s who calls it, “a tried-and-true formula that I’ve been recommending for years.”

Best Exfoliating Wash: Kosas Good Body Skin AHA Enzyme Exfoliating Body Wash

“Exfoliating has been shown to help prevent body acne because it removes the dead skin cells that can clog pores,” explains Dr. Gonzalez. If you want to ward off potential pimples, reach for this formula. It combines both alpha hydroxy acids and fruit-based enzymes to gently exfoliate, all while leaving skin softer, smoother, and brighter (a nice perk if you’re trying to combat post-pimple
discoloration). The subtle, spa-like scent and luscious lather also make it feel more like a luxe body product than any kind of acne treatment.

Best Wash for Sensitive Skin: CLn Body Wash

For anyone trying to combat blemishes but for whom many of the traditional acne-fighting products are too harsh and irritating, this sensitive skin wash is a good alternative. It contains sodium hypochlorite, an ingredient that can help kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin, says Dr. Gonzalez of another one of her picks. Still, it’s so gentle that it even touts the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Approval, and Amazon shoppers note that it’s perfect for anyone dealing with eczema and sensitivities.

Best for Back Acne Treatment: Versed Back-Up Plan Acne-Control Body Mist

As anyone who’s ever tried to apply any kind of product on their own back will tell you, it’s no easy feat. Enter: this acne-control body mist by Versed. The 360-degree spray top makes it easy to mist on an even application of the treatment anywhere and everywhere, even those super hard-to-reach spots in the middle of your back. The formula boasts a maximum-strength concentration of 2-percent salicylic acid, plus soothing ingredients such as tea tree oil and witch hazel to reduce inflammation and calm redness. And since it’s a leave-on product, it’s more effective at targeting stubborn back breakouts than a wash-off cleanser.

Best Spot Treatment: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx Blemish Solutions Acne Eliminating Gel

A cult-favorite spot treatments, this is choice for combating targeted pimples, no matter where they pop up on the face or body. Credit salicylic acid, plus monk pepper extract, a unique ingredient that affects oil production so that the oil produced is less viscous and likely to clog pores. Happy reviewers rave about how well and how fast it works — results often seen in as little as just a few days.

Best Travel Option: BusyCo. Clarifying Body Cleansing Cloths

In an ideal world, you’d shower immediately after every workout, but I get that that’s not always realistic. For times when a post-sweat sesh shower is hard to come by, these body wipes are the next best thing. Not only do they wipe away pore-clogging sweat and bacteria in and of themselves, they also contain exfoliating glycolic acid and purifying charcoal to help further dislodge acne-causing gunk and grime. Plus, they’re made from recycled materials and are completely biodegradable, so there’s no need to worry about any negative impact on the environment.

Best Butt Acne Treatment: AcneFree Salicylic Acid Body Spray

Say goodbye to butt blemishes with this easy-to-use spray. It contains salicylic acid, along with glycolic acid for gentle exfoliation and astringent witch hazel, plus hydrating aloe so it never dries out the skin. It’s oil-free, non-sticky, and dries super fast; simply spritz it onto any breakout-prone areas, ideally when skin is clean and dry.

Best Shampoo for Breakouts: SEEN Skin-Caring Shampoo

Did you know that your shampoo might be contributing to your body breakouts? If you’re constantly breaking out on your back, it could be that pore-clogging ingredients in your hair care (specifically shampoo that gets rinsed off and ends up on your upper back) are contributing. That’s why this line, specially made to be good for hair and skin, is so smart. It’s one of the few hair-care lines that’s actually non-comedogenic (read: it won’t clog pores), yet still works great for your hair. Case in point: Users repeatedly comment as to how much it’s improved the appearance of both their strands and skin.

Best Body Lotion: CeraVe SA Lotion

It can be tempting to want to skip creams and lotions when your skin is oily and acne-prone, but it’s important to keep moisturizing. Over-drying your skin can actually end up making it produce more oil, only exacerbating the situation. Enter this lotion, another favorite of Dr. Gonzalez. “It’s gentle and hydrating, but also highly effective because it contains salicylic acid, one of the best ingredients for body acne.” Top tip: It’s also a great way to ward off future breakouts once your skin is clear, and helps smooth away any bumps or uneven texture, too.

Best for Face and Body: SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel

Hear me out: While this gel cleanser might be advertised for use on your face, you can totally reap the benefits of its potent ingredients on your body, too. The formula is packed with LHA (aka lipohydroxy), glycolic, and salicyic acid to exfoliate, decongest, brighten, smooth, and encourage cell renewal (read: it’s anti-aging to boot).


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