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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Eva Simmons-O’Brien

Dr. Eva Simmons O’Brien received her MD from Yale University and is a board-certified dermatologist. With over 30 years of experience, she has worked for hospitals, established her own private practice, and consulted for organizations such as the FDA. Today, Dr. Eva runs her own practice in addition to serving as our Chief Science Officer.

What Causes Body Acne?

What Causes Body Acne?

What Causes Body Acne?



Oh no...the dreaded bacne. If you struggle with acne in other parts of the body than the face, you are not alone. And trust us, it’s not because you have poor hygiene. But that could be a part of the equation. 

Q: What Causes Body Acne?

Body acne usually shows up on the upper half of the body in the form of whiteheads, pimples, and cysts rather than blackheads. The upper part of the body has a lot of sebaceous glands as opposed to the lower half of the body, which is why body acne typically develops on the back, chest, and arms as opposed to the legs. 

We know how embarrassing body acne can be, especially for its stigma of being caused by poor hygiene. Fret not: Disco is here to break down all of the potential triggers of body acne and offer some quick solutions. 

A: Oil Buildup, Friction, & Chemical-Loaded Products

It’s important to remember that hormones and genetics ALWAYS play a role in the cause of acne. Some people are more prone to oil buildup than others, and hormone imbalances or medications can sometimes disrupt your skin health. 

Aside from hormones and genetic factors, the main causes of body acne are oil buildup, friction on the skin, and chemical-loaded products. 

Excess oil is caused by an overproduction of sebum from the sebaceous glands, just like the face. Areas of high oil buildup are a breeding ground for bacteria that can become trapped in pores. Dead skin cells that have not been washed off can also build up in your pores, causing a blockage. Overactive oil glands, sebum production, and dead skin cells have an easy fix, however: always shower after a workout or sweating, and avoid wearing sweaty clothes for prolonged periods. 

Second, friction from tight clothing, backpacks, or athletic pads can cause body acne. The main difference between body acne and face ance is that the red bumps on the body are more often than not from folliculitis, which is triggered by inflammation of the hair follicles. Friction can also include wearing tight clothing and sitting for prolonged periods. The butt area can develop acne bacteria if it’s pressed up against a couch or seat, not allowing air to flow freely and the sebaceous glands to sweat. Overall: avoid friction, especially if you’re healing your body acne. And again, shower immediately after working out. The longer the sweat stays on the body, the more likely acne-causing bacteria can clog the pores. 

Last, chemical-loaded products in your body care routine could definitely be contributing to your body acne. Check your laundry detergents, the fabrics you wear, and your body wash, and lotions, and ensure that you’re not using anything on your body that you wouldn’t use on your face. The best solution is to switch to an all-natural alternative with vegan and cruelty-free ingredients, so you can ensure that the products you are using will never cause a breakout. 



We made the Disco Invigorating Body Wash with preventing body acne in mind. The body wash lathers into a eucalyptus-smelling foam and is formulated with all-natural ingredients like Aloe, Horsetail, Chamomile, Papaya, and Sea Kelp Extract. Aloe is an antibacterial ingredient that can gently cleanse the skin of acne-causing bacteria without irritating the skin. Horsetail is an antioxidant that smoothes the skin, clearing dead skin cells through gentle exfoliation. Chamomile soothes the skin and protects against further damage and environmental factors that can contribute to body acne. 


P.S. If you’re still struggling with healing body acne, consider your diet. Wellness encompasses much more than just the products we use to treat our skin. It depends on what we’re putting into our bodies as well. Processed foods, dairy products, and sugar are all big culprits of breakouts. Focus on a well-balanced whole foods diet and monitor how your skin changes. We promise you’ll look and feel your best.

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