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Top 10 Dermatologist-Recommended Treatments for Acne on the Back, Chest, and Buttocks

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

The components and products to manage breakouts on the back, chest, and buttocks.

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Latest update: Blemishes can occur on areas apart from your face. However, ultimately, the dissimilarity between acne that emerges on your complexion and acne that manifests on your body is actually quite minimal. In both circumstances, oil, bacteria, and obstructed hair follicles all contribute. These breakouts can also have a similar appearance regardless of their location – yes, you can even experience whiteheads, blackheads, and inflamed, crimson pimples on your body.

“We are not exactly certain why some individuals with acne on their faces either do or do not develop body acne,” clarifies Shari Marchbein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University. “However, what we understand is that acne is a persistent, multifactorial skin condition (meaning it has numerous causes, including your genetics) and is the most prevalent skin ailment in the US (affecting over 90 percent of teenagers and more than 50 percent of adult women).” 

Amazon PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash Benzoyl Peroxide 10%

Below, you will discover multiple body acne treatments that have been endorsed by dermatologists and can be applied throughout the day to prevent body breakouts. 

Why We Appreciate It: The formulation contains high-strength benzoyl peroxide, which is excellent for addressing acne.

It’s Important to Note: It does not produce as much lather or foam as other body washes. 

When we envision an exceptional body wash for acne, PanOxyl is the first bottle that comes to mind.

Both of our dermatologist specialists concur — this choice is the superior cleanse for individuals with body acne. “This cleanse includes potent benzoyl peroxide in a foamy composition that eliminates excess sebum from the dermis and addresses acne concurrently,” clarifies Josh Zeichner, M.D., a derma expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

We adore the fact that this wash contains 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, which will effectively eliminate body acne in its tracks. It boasts a relatively thick texture that doesn’t really lather up as much as your typical foaming cleanser. It’s widely available at most drugstores nationwide, and we appreciate that it’s also budget-friendly. Like all benzoyl peroxide products, it’s important to be cautious about potential bleaching of clothing or sheets after use. Simply pat dry with a white towel and you’ll be good to go.

Price at the time of publication: $9

Main Ingredient: Benzoyl peroxide | Size: 5.5 ounces | Type: Wash

Why We Love It: Given that it’s a spray, you can easily apply it to any area of the skin.

Ulta Bliss Clear Genius Body Acne Spray

It’s Worth Noting: The key ingredient in this formula is salicylic acid, and it may not be effective for everyone.

Breakouts on the back are quite common when it comes to body acne—especially in areas that experience friction from activities like exercising (for example, sports bra straps). Not only can it be challenging to see or notice acne on your own back, but it can also be bothersome to treat an area that’s hard to reach.

Dr. Zeichner recommends the Bliss Clear Genius Body Acne Spray for individuals dealing with back acne. “This user-friendly spray delivers potent two percent salicylic acid to the skin,” he explains. “It can be sprayed at any angle and effectively treats even those hard-to-reach areas on the back.”

Some customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the product’s effectiveness in treating back acne (psst… not all body acne is caused by sweat). It’s important to remember that different ingredients may need to be tried to effectively address back acne. If you find that salicylic acid isn’t strong enough, consider experimenting with a benzoyl peroxide treatment or consulting a dermatologist.

Price upon publication: $18

Main Component: Salicylic acid | Volume: 3.5 ounces | Category: Spray

Reasons We Appreciate It: This is primarily a non-irritating solution, which makes it suitable for your private areas.

It’s Important to Note: This product has a fragrance, which might cause discomfort for individuals with sensitive skin.

Dealing with dermal blemishes on your posterior can be embarrassing and frustrating — unfortunately, it can happen to numerous individuals. When addressing butt acne, it is crucial to select a mild formula that will effectively eliminate acne without causing irritation to your intimate regions. Dr. Zeichner endorses the traditional Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash since it contains salicylic acid in a non-irritating formulation to treat acne and cleanse the skin while still maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier.

Target Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash

One aspect we are not particularly fond of regarding this cleanser is the added scent. Therefore, if you have a heightened sensitivity to fragrances, you might want to consider an alternative unscented option. Nonetheless, this product should be safe and effective for addressing butt acne.

Price upon publication: $9

Main Component: Salicylic acid | Volume: 8.5 ounces | Category: Wash

Why We Enjoy It: The formula offers the highest level of 10 percent benzoyl peroxide along with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide.

It’s Important to Mention: Since benzoyl peroxide has the potential to discolor linen, it is wise to be cautious with your clothing and towels.

Benzoyl peroxide is a potent ingredient for addressing body acne. “Benzoyl peroxide is without a doubt my preferred choice and one of the most effective non-prescription ingredients for treating acne on both the body and face,” explains Dr. Marchbein.

Amazon CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Dr. Marchbein deeply admires the Cerave Acne Foaming Cream Wash due to its inclusion of the powerful 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, as well as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, all of which help calm the skin and maintain a healthy protective barrier. “Given that acne-fighting ingredients can sometimes cause dryness, it is especially important to combine them with hydrating and skin repairing components such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides (all of which are present in Cerave),” she states.

While benzoyl peroxide can effectively treat body acne, it can also bleach clothing and fabrics quite easily. However, since this cream cleanser is designed to be rinsed off, it should not have a bleaching effect on fabrics. To err on the side of caution, it may be wise to use your oldest or white towels when using this product.

Price at the Time of Publication: $18

Key Ingredient: Benzoyl peroxide | Size: 5 ounces | Type: Facial cleanser

Why We Like It: This product is specifically formulated to address body acne while providing hydration and soothing effects for the skin.

It’s Worth Noting: The salicylic acid in this formula may not effectively treat all types of acne.

This is a well-loved product from Maëlys Cosmetics that is designed to target body acne. With its 2 percent salicylic acid content, this formula offers a gentle yet effective solution for bacne, chest acne, and any other forms of body acne you may encounter.

We appreciate this formula because you can spritz it on your body, allow it to dry, and then put your garments on — it’s not formulated with benzoyl peroxide, so you don’t have to concern yourself with inadvertently bleaching your clothing. We also admire the fact that it contains moisturizing and calming ingredients like glycerin, niacinamide, and aloe. We selected this product as the satchel savior in our Shape Skin Awards because the nozzle can be spritzed from all angles and it dries rapidly.

Ulta Maëlys Cosmetics GET-BACK Targeted Body Acne Spray

Once in a while, individuals find that salicylic acid doesn’t effectively treat their body acne. If that’s the case, you might want to consider an alternative acne-fighting component like benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, or retinoids. However, salicylic acid is a good starting point to observe how your acne reacts.

Price at time of publication: $39

Key Component: Salicylic acid | Volume: 3.38 ounces | Category: Spritz

Reasons We Appreciate It: The formula includes salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid—which are all standouts in treating hyperpigmentation.

It’s Worth Mentioning: This product is rather costly, and you don’t receive a substantial amount of exfoliating pads for the price.

At times, you can eliminate active breakouts on the body but are left with hyperpigmentation or dark blemishes afterwards. Dr. Marchbein recommends the Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads for this specific issue because it contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids. While both are exfoliating acids, here’s the distinction between them.

“For those with hyperpigmentation or darkness remaining after the breakout resolves, my go-to is Skinbetter Exfoliating Peel Pads, which combines salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid in addition to anti-inflammatory ingredients,” she states.

Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads

I generally suggest utilizing once weekly to the thorax, posterior, or any other impacted regions.

The largest drawback to this selection is that these skin peeling pads are quite costly — $115 for a set of 30. This would be an excellent indulgence option for individuals battling hyperpigmentation. Furthermore, they can also be utilized on the facial area.

Price at time of publication: $115

Crucial Component: Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid | Quantity: 30 peel pads | Category: Peel pads

Why We Appreciate It: This product resembling a serum contains lactic and citric acid to exfoliate the skin.

It’s Important to Mention: For the price of $50, you receive slightly less than an ounce of the product.

This is a long-standing cherished solution for Renée Rouleau clients and customers when it comes to spot treatment. The Anti Bump Solution performs admirably when it comes to tackling those troublesome, cystic acne bumps on your body that are challenging to address.

Dr. Zeichner endorses this choice for his patients. “The Renée Rouleau Anti Bump Solution consists of a blend of lactic and citric acid, which are two alpha hydroxy acids that provide exfoliating benefits to the skin,” he explains. “This can aid in clearing breakouts and achieving an even skin tone.”

One of the downsides of choosing this option is that it falls on the more expensive end for a spot treatment — $50 per bottle, to be precise. Additionally, it is solely accessible on the brand’s official website, making it a product that is not widely obtainable.


Price at time of publication: $50

Crucial Component: Lactic acid, methyl gluceth, and citric acid | Quantity: 0.5 ounces | Category: Serum.

Why We Appreciate It: This item offers both physical and chemical exfoliation, resulting in smoother skin.

It’s Important to Mention: To gauge your body’s reaction, start using this once per week.

Sometimes, you may require additional assistance in the realm of exfoliation—this scrub from Differin is designed to fulfill that need. Dr. Marchbein recommends this scrub to her patients because it contains a combination of acids and beads that effectively exfoliate skin prone to acne. 

“The Differin Acne Body Scrub utilizes physical exfoliants (such as vitamin E beads) along with chemical exfoliants AHA/BHA (specifically, a mixture of 2 percent salicylic acid and 1 percent glycolic acid) to address mild body breakouts and hyperpigmentation while providing moisture to the skin,” explains Dr. Marchbein. “This product may also benefit individuals with keratosis pilaris (commonly referred to as ‘strawberry skin’) as it helps to smooth rough bumps on the arms and legs.”

We admire the fact that this formula effectively treats multiple skin concerns, and we appreciate that it is both cost-effective and readily available at drugstores. However, it is crucial to mention that some scrubs can be slightly drying and irritating, so it may be advisable to limit usage to a few times per week, rather than using it daily. 

Amazon Differin Acne Clearing Body Scrub

Price at the Time of Publishing: $11

Main Ingredient: Salicylic acid | Size: 8 ounces | Type: Body scrub

Why We Appreciate It: Unlike traditional pimple patches, this option covers a significant area.

It’s Important to Mention: Applying this patch to certain areas on your back can be quite challenging.

Acne patches are highly effective in bringing troublesome pimples to the surface, but standard dot patches may not be sufficient for specific areas of your body. That’s where the Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Surface comes in. We adore this product because it offers a relatively large surface area, enabling users to cover a larger cluster of pimples anywhere on their body. 

One drawback of these patches is that if you are dealing with back acne, it can be quite difficult to apply them to specific areas on your back.

Seek the assistance of a relative or companion to execute it on your behalf should that become the circumstance.

Price at time of publish: $16

Main Ingredient: Hydrocolloid | Size: 10 patches | Category: Patches

Reasons for Our Appreciation: It’s a cost-effective and efficient product that stimulates the turnover of skin cells.

Notable Comment: This lotion tends to leave a greasy layer on your skin.

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Surface

Naturium is gaining popularity on TikTok, and for valid reasons – the brand offers some truly remarkable and budget-friendly skincare products. The Naturium Skin-Renewing Retinol Body Lotion consists of, as you may have guessed, retinol. This ingredient aids in accelerating the regeneration of skin cells on your body while simultaneously providing hydration to your skin.

Retinol is an excellent component to utilize if you have any post-acne marks on your body and require a quicker healing process. This lotion can also enhance the texture, firmness, and overall tone of your skin.

A few individuals have expressed dissatisfaction with the greasy film that this product leaves behind on the skin. If you prefer a body lotion that fully absorbs into your skin, you might want to explore other options.

Price at time of publish: $28

Main Ingredient: Retinol | Size: 8 ounces | Category: Lotion

How We Chose

Dealing with facial acne can be a hassle, and the struggle with body acne is equally exhausting. When selecting the best treatments for body acne, we took into consideration the entire range of available options, including the texture, ingredients, and concentration of active ingredients. We also relied on our personal experience with some of these body acne treatments and interviewed two certified dermatologists to obtain their recommendations for the most effective treatments for body acne as suggested to their patients.

Naturium Skin-Renewing Retinol Body Lotion

What to Understand About Treatments for Body Acne

Causes of Body Acne

Pimples, whether they are large cystic lesions or smaller whiteheads and blackheads, result from a combination of bacteria, abnormal shedding of skin cells (known as hyperkeratinization of hair follicles), inflammation, and oil produced by nearby oil glands.

All these factors have the potential to lead to four primary categories of acne lesions: comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (red inflamed bumps), pustules (pus bumps), and cysts.

For acne on the physique including the chest, back (“bacne”), and buttocks, perspiration and wearing snug garments while exercising/sweating can obstruct oil glands and plays a significant role in exacerbating or causing acne in these areas. “It’s particularly crucial for those who experience flare-ups with body breakouts that they wear clothing with fabrics that wick away moisture and that they change out of sweaty clothes immediately and shower right after exercising,” elucidates Dr. Marchbein.

Ingredients to Search For

Acne is the most prevalent skin condition in the US, and having effective, over-the-counter alternatives to aid in improving breakouts is crucial. “Three primary over-the-counter acne-fighting ingredients which can be found in cleansers include benzoyl peroxide (my preferred over-the-counter ingredient for treating body acne), glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid), and salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid),” explains Dr. Marchbein. Maelys Cosmetics GET-BACK Targeted Body Acne Spray contains salicylic acid and Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads contains alpha hydroxy acids — glycolic and lactic acid.

Salicylic acid is a lipophilic/oil soluble beta hydroxy acid that is capable of penetrating deeper into the sebaceous/oil glands than AHA to aid in unclogging pores and treating mild comedonal acne (also known as blackheads). “Benzoyl peroxide, on the other hand, is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and treats blackheads as well as more inflammatory breakouts,” says Dr. Marchbein. CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser contains 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, plus ceramides to safeguard the skin barrier. “AHA/BHA are also beneficial for enhancing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (or dark spots left behind from an acne breakout).”

Ingredients to Steer Clear Of

For those in general who have acne, Dr. Marchbein recommends searching for non-comedogenic products and usually those that are oil-free (although certain oils like squalane are non-comedogenic and so can be used by those with acne). “Also, I advise caution when combining multiple active ingredients as this can cause dryness and irritation (like combining retinoids with AHA/BHA),” explains Dr. Marchbein. “And be careful using medicated acne cleansers if you are on a prescription acne routine — always discuss with your dermatologist first.”

Concentrations of Active Ingredients

According to Dr. Zeichner, it might be wise to select cleansers that have a higher concentration of active ingredients, and serums or moisturizers that have a lower concentration of active ingredients. “Since there is a relatively shorter contact time with the skin, I recommend using cleansers that contain higher concentrations of active ingredients,” he explains. “For example, when it comes to benzoyl peroxide, look for a cleanser that contains 10 percent.” PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash Benzoyl Peroxide 10% is our choice for best acne body wash and contains 10 percent.

When it comes to leave-on products, Dr. Zeichner typically suggests lower concentrations of active ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide, to minimize potential irritation. Studies have indicated that 2.5 percent is just as effective as higher concentrations in treating inflamed pimples, but it is associated with less potential irritation. Bliss Clear Genius Body Acne Spray is a leave-on spray that utilizes two percent salicylic acid.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How is body acne different from facial acne?

    Acne develops on the body in areas where there are higher concentrations of sebaceous glands, such as on the back, torso, and even the arms. “As sebum becomes trapped within the pores beneath adhesive skin cells, bacteria that cause acne grow to levels higher than normal, leading to inflammation,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “This is the same cause of acne on the face.” It’s estimated that 50 percent of individuals with facial acne also have acne on their body. However, only around 10 percent of people have body acne without any facial acne.

  • How do you prevent body acne?

    The best way to address acne is by preventing its development. “If you are prone to breakouts, ensure that you regularly use a cleanser with salicylic acid to keep your pores clear,” suggests Dr. Zeichner. “After working out, make sure to change out of sweaty clothing promptly, as damp clothing against the skin can contribute to pore blockage.” Instead of treating individual pimples, it is crucial to treat the entire affected area. This approach can help eliminate existing pimples and prevent the formation of new ones.

  • How does stress affect body acne?

    Stress has a significant impact on the skin, and stress-induced acne is a genuine occurrence. “The same hormones involved in preparing your body to cope with stress can also stimulate your sebaceous glands,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “This means that in response to stress, your body produces more sebum and promotes skin inflammation.” Studies have revealed that during stressful situations, such as exam periods in school, students experience more acne compared to other times. “Reducing stress as much as possible is important in preventing breakouts,” he advises. “Whether it’s through meditation or exercise, do whatever you can to minimize stress.”

Why Rely on Shape

Daley Quinn is a freelance writer specializing in beauty, lifestyle, and health, based in New York City. She is a former editor of a print magazine at Family Circle magazine and has been published in various print magazines and digital publications, including InStyle, Real Simple, Byrdie, Southern Living, Shape, and more. She also maintains her own blog, The Daley Dose.

Daley utilized her personal encounter in evaluating various treatments for body acne.

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