Beauty

Here’s why you’re getting body acne, according to Dr. Pimple Popper

Banish breakouts on your face, neck, scalp, back, and butt.

Here's why you have acne, according to where it is on your body Credit: Getty Images / kadirkaplan

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Let's face it: Acne is frustrating no matter where it (quite literally) pops up. If you're struggling with a sudden onset of pimples, things like hormonal changes, diet, environmental factors, and stress are among the most common culprits. That said, the location of said flare-ups—whether they’re on your scalp, face, neck, back, or butt—can give you clearer insight as to why you're getting them in the first place.

We called on California-based dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee, a.k.a., Dr. Pimple Popper and founder of SLMD Skincare to help us break down breakouts, according to where they show up on the body.

Related content

1. How to get rid of facial acne

Face Acne
Credit: Getty Images / Syldavia

If you're experiencing face acne, reevaluate your skincare routine.

There are several reasons you could be breaking out on your face, but one of the more common culprits is hormonal changes, which can occur in both men and women.
"[Elevated levels of androgen] hormones can cause the overproduction of oil, which can then clog our pores and create higher chances of breakouts occurring," Lee explains. "Dairy can also be an exacerbating factor when it comes to acne because of the elevated hormones in milk."

To combat facial acne, avoid touching or picking at your skin. These habits can not only introduce new bacteria to the area and prolong healing, but picking, in particular, can also lead to an inflammatory response and increase the risk of scarring. If you're acne-prone, stick with non-comedogenic products (ones designed not to clog pores) and make it a routine to consistently clean things that come in frequent contact with your skin (think: cell phone, pillowcase, and hands).

If you're dealing with a particularly stubborn pimple you can't resist picking at, Lee recommends using a spot treatment that’ll help heal the current spot and remind you to keep your hands off. Try the one from Neogen Dermalogy, which features salicylic acid to gently exfoliate, azulene (an extract of chamomile) for redness relief, and calamine to control excess oil production. After application, you'll see the light pink calamine lotion on your skin, which serves as a visual reminder not to touch it. If you want to create a physical barrier around the blemish, try pimple patches, like the popular Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patches, which claim to shrink blemishes in as little as six hours with its absorbent hydrocolloid dressing. If your acne is severe and over-the-counter products aren't working, a visit to your dermatologist can help you get a better handle on controlling your acne.

2. How to get rid of scalp acne

Scalp Acne
Credit: Getty Images / LarsZahnerPhotography

Scalp acne may be the result of less frequent washes or product buildup.

Often referred to as folliculitis, scalp acne occurs when the hair follicles on your scalp become clogged. This can happen to anyone, but especially those who wash their hair less frequently and use products that build up between cleanses. It could be acne (as opposed to other common scalp conditions, like dandruff) if it feels like a pustule (a bump filled with fluid or puss), if you feel discomfort upon touching the scalp, or if there’s a patch you can see that’s red or itchy.

Lee recommends washing your hair—at least rinsing it with water—every other day to keep pore-clogging oil, dirt, or bacteria in check. Look for shampoo and scalp scrub formulas that contain cortisone, salicylic acid (derived from willow bark), and coal tar, which Lee says can also help control oil as well as inflammation and dryness. R+Co's Crown Scalp Scrub is perfect for oily, sensitive scalps that are prone to blemishes, as it contains salicylic acid and a gentle yet effective exfoliating formula.

Get the R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub on Amazon for $38

3. How to get rid of neck acne

Neck Acne
Credit: Getty Images / FreshSplash

Don't forget to wash and moisturize your neck, just like you would your face, to keep neck acne in check.

Though many people end their skincare routines at the jawline, Lee maintains that caring for the skin on your neck is equally as important as tending to the skin on your face. If you're battling with neck acne, this rings even more true, as it can be caused by the same things that cause acne on the face. Also, neck acne can take on several appearances: red, tender bumps; deep, uncomfortable lumps; or rash-like papules.

First, take into account what's touching this area. Tight, sweaty workout clothes sticking to the skin for an extended period of time can lead to blackheads or whiteheads, but wearing heavy jewelry or thick, non-breathable fabrics like polyester or rayon can also be to blame. Lee also recommends steering clear of products with added fragrance, as these are typically comedogenic, which means that they can clog pores and lead to acne.

Also, make sure you're removing every trace of makeup from your neck to avoid clogging up your sebaceous glands, which release sebum to protect the skin and hair, in this area. The oil- and fragrance-free makeup wipes from La Roche-Posay are suitable for sensitive skin types and work to fend off acne-causing sebum with ingredients like salicylic acid.

Get the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Oil-Free Cleansing Towelettes on Amazon for $9.99

4. How to get rid of back acne

Back Acne
Credit: Getty Images / bluecinema

Get out of dirty or sweaty clothes and hop into the shower right away to prevent back acne.

If you're a frequent gym-goer experiencing breakouts on your back, your post-workout regimen may be to blame. "The most common reason people are breaking out along their back is due to allowing sweat, dirt, and oil to remain on your skin," says Dr. Lee. "That moist [clothing] becomes more occlusive, meaning it binds to the skin and traps the dirt, bacteria, and sweat that has gathered. This promotes clogged pores, which can turn into pimples." Back acne resembles facial acne but is often more extensive or severe, appearing as either non-inflammatory acne (think: blackheads and whiteheads) or inflammatory acne (papules and pustules or underground painful pimples), Lee says.

The fix? Avoid sitting around in tight, sweaty clothing after your hot yoga or HITT session and hop in the shower immediately. A body wash that features acne-busting ingredients is ideal here. Try Neutrogena's Pink Grapefruit Body Clear Body Wash, which includes salicylic acid to attack the bacteria that causes inflammatory pimples on the body.

Get the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Body Clear Body Wash on Ulta for $9.49

5. How to get rid of butt acne

Butt Acne
Credit: Getty Images / energyy

Sitting for long periods of time or not changing out of sweaty clothes quickly enough may cause blemishes on the bum.

Butt acne is seldom discussed, but if you're experiencing it, know that you're not alone. Like scalp acne, "buttne" is actually folliculitis and can be caused by sweat-laden clothing causing friction against your skin, sitting for a long period of time, or over-wearing your underwear. Here's the solution to your booty woes: Avoid wearing your workout clothes longer than you need to, wear a fresh pair of underwear everyday, and use a benzoyl peroxide cleanser like the Humane Face & Body Acne Wash. It features 10 percent benzoyl peroxide and wards off blemish-causing bacteria as well as alleviates inflammation.

And remember: If this area will be exposed to the sun, make sure you're lathering up on an SPF of at least 30 to avoid scarring.

Get the Humane Face & Body Acne Wash on Amazon for $21.95

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Up next