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You may not know you have it, or you might be painfully, embarrassingly aware. But the fact of the matter is that back acne (a.k.a. bacne) is extremely common, especially in the summertime.
Think about it: You sweat more while working out, during the day, and while you sleep at night. Exposure to the sun dries out your skin, creating clogged pores. Worst of all, in the summertime you are more likely to be dehydrated. It's basically a perfect recipe for breakouts. And this is the time of year when you want to show off your body, not hide it under a shirt at the beach.
Luckily, there's a lot you can do to prevent and treat the scourge of pimples setting up camp between your shoulder blades. So before you give up hope or rush to a dermatologist, here is your anti-bacne summer checklist:
Do your laundry more often
Because you sweat more, you also need to clean your clothes and your linens more often. So while your sheets may not feel dirty after a week or two, trust us they are. And in the summer you may be more likely sleep in the nude, therefore just rubbing week-old sweat and dead skin back into your pores. Get it? Wash your sheets at least once a week with fragrance-free laundry detergent. Fragrance and other additives can irritate sensitive skin.
If you can't wash your gym clothes after each use, you can clean them in the shower post-workout and hang them to dry. Make it your mission this summer to treat your skin to freshly laundered fabric.
Beware of too much sun
Overexposure to the sun's rays dries you out and creates dead, flakey skin. That dead skin clogs the pores on your back and shoulders. This causes pimples. So you should be careful to always use sunscreen and refrain from laying out in the sun too much—it also causes cancer, which you don't want either.
Choose your grooming products wisely
Speaking of sunscreen, if you are prone to bacne you'll want to use one that is lightweight, waterproof, and oil free. That way your skin can breathe. While you're at it, it's also a good idea to switch to an oil-free body lotion.
Try: Super Goop oil free sunscreen SPF 50, available at supergoop.com
Probably the most important thing you can do is exfoliate. Whether you use a body scrub, a loofa, or a back brush, it's an important step in removing the dead skin and bacteria that clogs your pores and creates acne. Do it once a day in the shower for a few minutes at moderate intensity—you're not trying to remove your skin all together.
Try: Neutrogena body scrub with salicylic acid, available at neutrogena.com.
Try a medicated body wash
Medicated body wash with salicylic acid and anti-bacterial soaps can do wonders in the fight against bacne. Find one that won't suck all the moisture out of your skin.
Try: Cetaphil Men's 3-in-1anti-bacterial bar, available at cetaphil.com
Last, beauty works from the inside, out
Stress and a diet full of garbage can take their toll on your skin. So can excess drinking. It stands to reason that you should therefore drink lots of water, get enough sleep, don't eat pizza three times a day, and get moderate exercise.