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Hit the Zits: How to...

Hit the Zits: How to Minimize Body Acne

For some, the lumpy, red, blotchy grossness of acne was confined to the awkward pubescent years of adolescence. The affliction only added to the already seemingly painful experience of being a teenager, but for most, the whole ordeal was quickly and eagerly left behind once adulthood arrived. However, there are some people whose acne may have left their face only to migrate to other parts of their anatomy. Body acne is just as difficult to deal with as facial acne, perhaps more so in some ways. And being that it’s often genetic, it can prove inescapable.

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The cause of acne is easy enough to understand. Without getting into the dermatological nitty-gritty, suffice to say pores become clogged with dead skin cells and naturally occurring oils, providing a friendly environment for bacteria. Once the bacteria take hold, there you have it: as that tormenting little brat in junior high used to call it, pizza face—or pizza back or butt or chest or arms. To some, it may seem a trivial cosmetic affliction. But to those who are afflicted with it, it’s not trivial at all. If you’re battling body acne, try adding these products and techniques to your arsenal.

Scrub, Breathe, and Sweat
If acne results from clogged pores and hair follicles, it stands to reason that keeping said pores and follicles as clear as possible would go a great distance in helping to prevent acne. You can give your skin some breathing room by exfoliating, wearing loose breathable clothing, and working up a sweat. Exfoliating with body scrubs will minimize the dead skin cells that form the outermost layer of our largest organ. Airy clothing, preferably of natural fibers, will keep your skin’s inevitably secreting oils from having a chance to fester. And a good sweat on a regular basis, either by way of exercise or a steam or sauna, will keep your pores open, preventing the dead skin and oil from mingling with any bacteria.

Acid Wash
Alpha hydroxy acid and benzoyl peroxide are two organic compounds that pack a great chemical punch when it comes to treating body acne. They can be used either separately or in conjunction and are found in a variety of medicated cleansers and moisturizers created specifically for the purpose of beating back the ravages of aggressive acne outbreaks. These compounds can be found in lower concentration in many over-the-counter products, such as Glytonic, Proactiv, glominerals, Regimen, and AKTA. And, of course, your dermatologist can make recommendations for prescription cleansers that have higher concentrations of active ingredients.

Salty and Holistic
The opposite tack from the chemically dependent cleansers mentioned above is the more holistic (and some would say theoretical) approach of cell salt therapies. Developed in the nineteenth century by Dr. William H. Schuessler, they’re based on the notion that humans are composed of twelve mineral compounds; if an imbalance exists among those twelve minerals, it’s believed the body will become unwell or in some way diseased.

Cell salt devotees and homeopathic practitioners contend that acne is the result of a deficiency of calcium sulfate. So if one who suffers from acne takes supplements of that compound, the acne will theoretically subside. And while the amount of calcium sulfate in cell salt therapies is nearly unnoticeable, it would do one no harm to try it. However, evidence of its efficacy, from a scientific perspective, is nonexistent. But anecdotally speaking, cell salt therapy is said to cure acne and a few other maladies as well. 

Bring the Pain: Lasers and Microdermabrasion
The beneficial effects of some kinds of lasers on skin are well documented, and when it comes to acne, laser treatment can appear to be the magic bullet you’ve been waiting for. And indeed, pulse-dye lasers and infrared lasers can not only start to clear up acne after one or two treatments, it can also help with any scarring that might have been the result of acne. The downside is that it is $200 to $500 per treatment. But it might be worth it in the end—if the treatments take. Especially if you have some dermatological real estate to cover rather than merely a troublesome patch of problem facial skin.

Microdermabrasion is another approach. Dermabrasion, the practice of using a brush to intensely exfoliate your skin, is kicked up a notch with microdermabrasion, which blasts away the topmost layer of skin with tiny little granules, thereby stimulating the growth of a fresh new layer of skin that will be free of acne and other blemishes and wrinkles. The most surprising detail you’ll want to know is that this procedure is rumored to be quite painless.

So, no matter where an acne problem strikes, there are a variety of ways to deal with it. It all just depends on how aggressive you’re willing to get and, as with most things, how much money you’re willing to spend. To that end, as with most things, perhaps it’s best to start simple and go from there. 

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