Chest acne sucks. It might not appear in the same place or have as clever of a name as bacne, but chest acne (chacne? nope) will still come outta nowhere to kill your low-cut dress dreams.
The good news? According to top dermatologists Gary Goldenberg, M.D., and Doris Day, M.D., there are a few tricks and products that can pretty easily treat your current breakouts and prevent more from coming back—you just need to know where to look. And that's where I come in. Below, seven easy steps to getting rid of your chacne (ugh, never mind), so you can go back to worrying about bigger problems.
1. You Gotta Shower More
Chill! I’m not asking you to wash your hair every day, but body showers need to be a regular step in your post-gym (or post-sweaty-day) routine, says Dr. Goldenberg. “I always ask [patients] if they eat first or shower first after exercising,” he says. “It's usually those who eat first who have more acne on their bodies, since they sit in their sweaty clothes longer."
Use an anti-bacterial body wash filled with benzoyl peroxide (which fights bacteria) or salicylic acid (which exfoliates). Both will treat existing breakouts while working to prevent more. If you're not near a shower, wipe down your chest and boobs with a cleansing wipe, then rinse off as soon as you get home.
2. Take a Hard Look at Your Diet
While there's no acne-approved eating plan that works for everyone, there are a few foods that have been linked to acne: dairy and sugar (yes, including wine and lots of carbs), both of which can mess with your hormones and promote inflammation. Dr. Goldenberg suggests limiting or cutting out dairy, watching your sugar intake, and eating organic foods that don't contain hormones or antibiotics. "Any added hormones in food can change your own body’s hormones," he explains.
3. Add Some Grit
Both Dr. Goldenberg and Dr. Day recommend exfoliating regularly (once or twice a week) with a gentle scrub to remove dead skin cells and pore-blocking buildup that could be causing your breakouts. If a gritty scrub feels too abrasive for the delicate skin on your chest (you'll know if it stings, burns, or feels raw), try a chemical exfoliator, which relies on acids instead of scrubbies to dissolve dirty and oil.
4. Stop Popping. Seriously. Stop
If you’re thinking that a quick pop will hurry along the healing process, think again. “The chest and back are two areas on your body that heal more poorly and can scar more easily, so hands off,” Dr. Day says. If the sight of your pimple is too tempting, cover it with a concealer or a pimple patch. Sure, your zit might stick around for a few days, but the hyperpigmentation that appears after popping? That can last a long, long time.
5. Spot Treat It
Thoughts and prayers are great, but if you’re not being proactive about your zits, they likely won’t go away. As soon as you feel a pimple popping up, apply a spot treatment that's filled with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to minimize the breakout, and make sure to apply it before bed to maximize its potency (your body heals better at night). Keep in mind that benzoyl peroxide is infamous for bleaching your clothes and sheets, so wear a shirt you don’t care about when using it.
6. Switch Your Sunscreen
Sorry, but breakouts are not an excuse to skip on sunscreen, especially if you're using acne treatments or retinol, which make your skin hypersensitive to the sun. Instead, look for a for a lightweight formula that's non-comedogenic (aka won’t clog pores), and apply it to clean, dry skin every morning.
7. Call for Reinforcements
If you’ve tried over-the-counter products and they just aren’t cutting it, it's time to chat with a dermatologist about trying stronger treatments, like a prescription retinoid or antibacterial gel, says Dr. Day. But don't feel like a derm is your last resort—a doctor should, in an ideal world, be your first line of defense. Acne may not be curable, but it is treatable, so get started on your clear-chest journey, now.