As you strive to get bikini ready this summer, you may find yourself focusing less on how to tone up flabby thighs and more on unsightly skin issues like “bacne” … or dare we say it, cleavage zits! Sure, acne most commonly plagues the face, but other body parts — the back, chest, butt and arms — aren’t immune to these nasty eruptions. What’s worse, according to New York City Dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D., acne is actually more common as the weather heats up, thanks to frequent application of sunscreen, lotions, bug spray and creams coupled with excess sweat and clothes trapping in heat.
Here are five strategies to help keep pesky pimples at bay:
1. Cover up carefully. Fusco recommends non-comedogenic (yes, you need to look for that term on the label; you’ll thank us later!) oil-free sunscreens. And when it comes to working out in the heat, make sure to wear cotton T-shirts or tank tops to help wick away sweat. If you work out in a class, bring a towel and always use it on a mat. Mats are teeming with bacteria, particularly the community ones.
2. Exfoliate! Regularly exfoliating your skin helps prevent the clogging pores that give rise to zits. Your best bet: A granular exfoliant cleanser that you can use in the shower to cover all of your acne-prone parts. Oatmeal is a natural exfoliant and some citrus-based cleansers offer similar sloughing activity. Even a soft back brush or a long loofah does the trick.
3. Be proactive. Don’t wait until your zits fully erupt to start zapping them with medication. Topical benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid (OTC) is a good start, says Fusco. A new product from SkinCeuticals, Blemish+ Age Intervention Serum, gets rave reviews.
4. Watch your hormones. If you’re suffering from irregular menstrual cycles, excess hair growth (in unwanted locales), mood or weight changes or sensitivity to heat or cold, visit your doc. There’s a chance you may be suffering from polycystic ovaries, thyroid disease or some other hormonal problem.
5. Avoid the sun. Sure, it’s tempting to hit the beach to dry out pimples, but do everything you can to resist. Your risk for sun damage is far worse than the temporary benefit of drying out zits. What’s worse, sunbathing with unprotected, inflamed pimples can cause dark spots. Our advice: opt for cleansers and drying agents during breakouts — and wear oil-free sunscreen at all times.For daily beauty tips follow SELF on Facebook and Twitter.Get SELF on your iPad!