Last Modified on Feb 26, 2014
Acne, in general, is a skin condition caused by excess production of bacteria in the pores of the skin. While the condition is often thought of as merely a facial skin condition, acne can occur anywhere on the body. Acne that develops on other parts of the body is called body acne and responds well to gentler, natural treatment options.
What is Body Acne?
Body acne forms in much the same way as facial acne – through the overproduction of bacteria in the pores. However, body acne often appears thicker than facial acnes as the pores elsewhere on the body are larger. Body acne can form on the chest, shoulders, arms, legs, and buttocks and often appears as large red sores and lesions.
Natural Remedies for Acne on the Back and Body
Body acne is often considered a genetic condition, which often makes it difficult to identify a treatment option that is not too harsh for the skin. Natural treatments, however, not only treat acne but also nourish and moisturize the skin. Apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and borax are among the most effective, least abrasive treatments for body acne.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used as both a toner applied to the skin and a supplement taken orally. The vinegar functions to balance the pH of the body and eliminate breakouts naturally. Apple cider vinegar is also a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is also lauded as a natural antiseptic agent with anti-inflammatory properties. The chemicals in tea tree oil kill bacteria in the skin, naturally reducing body acne. The oil also moisturizes the skin and reduces redness and inflammation.
Borax is considered a natural cleaning agent that functions to treat acne in a variety of ways. The compound is a powerful antimicrobial agent, so it eliminates bacteria and other toxins in and on the skin. Borax is also considered a hormone normalizer as well as an anti-inflammatory agent, both properties that make it an effective cleanser for treating body acne.
Acne anywhere on the body can cause physical and emotional damage. However, natural remedies effectively treat acne and reduce the risk of this damage naturally.
Table of Contents
- QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
- Acne Inversa Remedies
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil
- Borax, Sea Salt, Tea Tree Oil
- Clay Mask
- Coconut Oil
- Dietary Changes
- Epsom Salts
- Multiple Remedies
- Remedies Needed
- Scalp Acne Remedies
- Selsun Blue
- Sesame Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Tea Tree, Witch Hazel, Aloe
- Witch Hazel
Acne Inversa Remedies
01/26/2014: Jennifer from United States: "I have been suffering from self diagnosed acne inversa for 20yrs. At this point I am so desperate for it to be all over with. I just recently had a flare up under my right arm and have several holes where the infection came out of. One of them is an open area that looks like I was stabbed. It's the largest I've ever had. Under my left arm I have been "leaking" for the past four months after a flare up. Funny thing about my last flare up was that when the boil finally busted- after a bath with epsom salt- it seemed like all of my affected areas started to leak at the same time. My other arm pit began leaking more the areas on my abdomen began to weep as well. I would like to know what can I do to close the holes and help myself heal. I have been doing alot of research and have a beginning regimen prepared but feel that I have to heal from these last flare ups to begin it. Please help!!! I don't know how much more I can take."Replies
01/27/2014: Nanowriter from Hotspot, Texas replies: "Jennifer, I don't have any direct experience with your disease, but here are my thoughts and suggestions.
I think your disease is caused by a virus, and that the weeping of fluid from your sores after the magnesium sulfate bath was a sign of the virally infected cells bursting due to the magnesium, sulfate or both. I would see that as a good thing and the reason it was global is because the minerals were absorbed into your body and thus attacking the virus everywhere.
I would begin taking vitamin C to bowel tolerance every two hours and also use a trace mineral supplement. Experiment with the antivirals like selenium, colloidal silver, baking soda, olive leaf extract, etc. Always a good idea to research them first and I always check the Amazon reviews to see what has worked for other people, etc.
You might want to experiment with the epsom salt baths to see if it improves your condition. It may take several baths and it may look worse before it starts to get better. Mineral baths are an old treatment for skin problems.
Please let us know what works and what doesn't!"
01/27/2014: Louwrence from Rustenburg, South Africa replies: "Hi Jennifer, Make magnesiumsulfate (epsom salts) paste by grinding the epsom salts untill it is very fine then add glycerine very slowly until it is a firm paste. Put it onto the holes to draw out the junk, then you may solve the problem. It may be painful in the begining, when it does not burn anymore the hole is clean & should heal. Cover with a plaster."
Aloe Vera Gel
[YEA] 12/02/2007: Jack from New York City, NY: "I had bad acne on my outer thighs and butt. Tried all different scrubs and creams but they were never fully effective. Cleaning with which hazel and then putting Aloe Vera gel on my skin has cleared it all up! It has taken a few weeks, but I can visibly see a difference and I'm not getting any new pimples. The Aloe Vera gel (100% with no coloring) has also reduced the redness on my face - it's great stuff!"
Apple Cider Vinegar
[YEA] 07/13/2012: Edith from Ventura, California: "Organic ACV used as an allover toner after showering worked for my boyfriend. He is 45 and has had incurable cystic acne on his back and bottom since he was 12. The cysts were very large, purplish, and would explode and leave painful, weeping, wounds. After two weeks of ACV application, and drinking three tablespoons per day, his acne completely disappeared. I think that it was the topical application that helped him the most. Thank you to everyone who posted information about ACV--it has really helped a lot."
[YEA] 07/29/2011: Vanessa from Clovis, Ca: "Have had acne since early teens and I'm now 22 and have tried EVERYTHING! I saw all of these post about ACV and decided to try it. Iv'e been on it for about 3 weeks and have seen a really big difference in my shin. My chest is completely clear and back 90% better. Face 99% better! :)
I cant drink it with water its horrible! So Iv'e been just taking a measuring spoon 1 tablespoon of the ACV one in the morning and one at night and having a glass of water in my other hand and drink ACV first then drink glass of water right after. Ive also been using ACV on a cotton ball each night as a toner on my face chest and back and sleep on it and shower in the morning. It has worked wonders. I will use this tool for the rest of my life! :)"Replies
07/12/2012: Freya from Kent, England replies: "Hi, I was just wondering how long did you use this apple cider method for before you started to see an improvement, please be honest?!"
Apple Cider Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil
[YEA] 07/16/2011: Misty from Somewhere, Indiana, Usa: "Another "yea" for ACV/TTO. My favorite method of application is to soak some cotton in vinegar (the pasteurized cheap stuff works), then add 1-3 drops tea tree oil. I then use tape or an adhesive bandage to stick the cotton over the acne sore. I leave it there for hours. Even new pimples can disappear (or at least significantly shrink) in less than a day using this method.
Warning: I advise using this method only on non-sensitive areas. If you experience painful burning, this may not be the right method for you. The area will be a little red, especially if you use a larger piece of cotton than is your pimple."
[YEA] 05/31/2010: Lor from Greensboro, Nc: "Backne Treatment/Cure
My son is only 14 and was suffering from Backne(acne on the back) for about a year. It was getting worse from sweaty sports and it got to be that he would not remove his shirt so I could examine it. When he finally agreed I was sad b/c he was young and already suffering with body issues.
I went to work investigating and trying different products. I read about a TX of Apple Cider Vinegar and Tea Tree oil.
He started treating himself by GENTLE washing with acne face wash and DRYING of back (no scrubbing or harsh cleaners). He then uses Stridex pad to further clean. He then dabs on Tea Tree oil with a cotton square and then dabs on Apple Cider Vinegar with a clean square.
The results are amazing. He does this at least once a day and often twice during sports or when needed. He is very impressed by the results and I am thrilled by the all natural ingredients and expense $10 for a bottle of TTO and $2 for a quart of ACV. He has been doing this for 6 months now.
The one caveot is the smell of the TTO. It really stinks. You will get used to it so dont be afraid. Also it will dissapate after 20 minutes. My son usually goes with out his shirt for 20 minutes and no one has commented on any smell so he is happy.
He has classmates that are on all kinds of medicine and tx from dermatologist and still dont have the kind of results that we have had."
[YEA] 09/08/2011: Maria from Syracuse, Ny: "I have tried some of the remedies on the Earth Clinic site for bacne. I have had bacne my whole adult life. After using the 20 Mule team Borax on a back brush every morning in the shower my back is clear of acne! It did take about 2 months for it to clear up. I am so glad to have found this site. I love how my back looks now."
[YEA] 12/21/2008: Rachel from Montclair, NJ: "Borax instead of soap: After reading all of the information about borax on the earthclinic website, I decided to experiment with it. I started using borax in place of the liquid bodywash that I normally used in the shower. I have always had breakouts on my chest and back and have tried everything (acne creams, soaps, kits for problem skin, alcohol, changing laundry detergent) and never had any lasting success keeping my skin clear from breakouts. Well let me tell you, since I started using the borax to wash myself with, my skin is COMPLETELY CLEAR! I've been using the borax now for about two months straight and will never go back to bodywash. I also started using it on my face and I will no longer buy facial cleansers again since the borax works so well. I still do use regular shampoo. I tried using just borax to wash my hair and the first day my hair looked great but the following two days my hair looked terrible. I now add a small handful of borax to my shampoo and use that with very good results. It is winter in NJ right now and usually I have a lot of static in my hair, but the borax seems to be counteracting that. I attribute the lack of static to the borax as that is the only different thing I am doing.
One last thing, the borax that I am using is the stuff you can get in the laundry aisle--20 Mule team borax. I love using borax and I love the Earthclinic website!"
EC: Read more about borax here: http://www.earthclinic.com/Remedies/borax.html
02/20/2009: Pam from Garner, NC replies: "I would like to know the recipe for 20 mule team borox body wash."
10/11/2012: Citygirl27 from Richardson, Tx, Usa replies: "Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup (depending on load size) of Borax to your washing machine loads. Do this for a good few loads to make sure no nasties are residing in your clothes or sheets. Also adding vinegar in the "bleach" part of your washing machine, instead of bleach, is beneficial. You can use ordinary white vinegar, no need to use your expensive ACV :) ."
Borax, Sea Salt, Tea Tree Oil
[YEA] 08/17/2012: Gizmo from Springfield, Mo: "I had tried practically EVERYTHING to try to rid myself of acne on my legs and buttocks. I had a lot of tiny pimples and large red ones. It was embarassing and made me self-conscious. I stumbled across an article about the therapeutic benefits of ocean water and clearing up complexion. I decided to experiment and purchased Sea Salt (made from evaporated sea water) and Tea Tree Oil. I mixed 1/4 cup of salt and 1/4 tsp of Tea Tree Oil in a spray bottle with hot water.
When I take a shower, I use a bit of 20 Mule Team Borax (the kind in the laundry detergent aisle) and wash my acne prone areas with this. After I dry off, I spray the sea salt/tea tree oil mixture on my buttocks/thigh area and leave it on there for the rest of the day. I work from home so I was also reapplying the mist 2-3 times a day.
Sea salt will draw out the impurities from your skin so expect your acne to get a bit worse before you see results. After 4 days, there was a remarkable difference! I'm on day 7 and my little zits are all gone and I only have a few red ones left which have greatly reduced in size and redness. It will sting a bit but it is bearable. I've read it takes longer to have clear skin in that particular area so you will need to be patient. I had tried the apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, Witch hazel, exfoliating and borax alone before trying the sea salt and although it helped, I was still not happy.
I expect after another week, I will have perfect skin again! Good luck!"
[YEA] 02/01/2012: Mary from Dallas, Tx, Usa: "I have suffered from pimples on my back and buttocks for most of my adult life. What I've found to be very helpful is to use a clay mask regularly - 1 to 2 times a week on the problem areas. I've even left it on over night.
Mint julep mask is very good for this.
Another tip: ladies, change your bra daily, I noticed I was getting breakouts in the area where my bra straps were - on the shoulder blades. I believe the sweat and dirt buildup on the straps contributes to the problem.
Make sure you are not constipated either, it will exacerbate the problem."Replies
02/01/2012: Sophie from Dayton, Ohio, Usa replies: "I've had body acne and also folliculitus on my legs. The thing that helped me the most was taking weekly baths with ACV. I use just the regular grocery store kind, and I use about 4 cups in warm bath water. I soak until the water gets cold. Sometimes I add 2 cups of epsom salt if I have it around. In the begining I was taking the baths two to three times a week until the acne cleared up, now just once a week for maintainence. The baths also help prevent/eliminate shaving bumps."
02/02/2012: Francisca from Zug, Switzerland replies: "Hi, I advise you and everybody with skin or hair problems to read the book Skin Fitness, Safe and healthy skin care! I haven't finishing reading it yet so there are many details I haven't yet read but I already have some good tips: make sure your body don't overheat, during the day or at night (I often feel cold so I have always tended to over dress to make sure that I am hot enough, maybe because of that I have skin and hair problems! ), by trying to get used to live a bit colder you finish getting used to it (so I hope.... ). As far as washing your hair the authors advise people to use only a conditioner but I haven't yet read the details. I tried that today and I will see how it goes because when my perm is gone I don't want to go back to my overly straight hair, with no volume at all! Lately I tried a few methods of washing my hair like using baking soda but my hair got extremely dry, UT but the same thing happened. Then I tried only water but I looked like a homeless person with horrible hair. I know that usually you should try to quit using shampoo over a period of time so that the hair gets used to living without it but.... Difficult to look so bad.... Well, I will go on reading and if there are anymore useful tips I will pass them on. In the meanwhile one of the most important things seems to be: don't overheat!"
[YEA] 05/28/2013: Braveheart from Vancouver, Bc: "For Body Acne, put organic coconut oil all over your body and pick off any black specs that come out of your pores. Look closely you will see them. Some call it morgellons but I think it is a parasitic fungus everyone has but it affects others differently or not at all. Once we started getting them out of my whole family, all our acne/bumps/rashes started to go away."
08/25/2010: Toriterese from Madison, Wi : "I've wondered about dietary changes for chest acne. I have done alot of changes to address my facial acne, and have noticed a direct link to dairy and facial acne. Any suggestion what chest acne would be? I've refined my diet pretty well... Can't figure this one out."Replies
09/02/2010: Louis from Sydney, Australia replies: "Look in encyclopedia under 'Grover's Disease'"
[YEA] 09/02/2012: Dnkjn from Berks, Pa replies: "I had a food allergen with pork. Once I stopped eating pork my acne cleared up. I'm working on what other food(s) I might be allergic to as well."
10/11/2012: Citygirl27 from Richardson, Tx, Usa replies: "Wheat will often do the same. You may have a wheat sensitivity."
[YEA] 02/01/2008: V from Toronto, Canada: "Changing my diet cured my back acne after about 12 years of suffering. It was pretty bad, especially in winter, occasionally I had cysts on my back, and even two surgeries to remove them with nasty scars left, but I am a guy, and do not care much of the scars. I visited doctors, tried medications, and of course it didn't work well, because acne at an adult age is a sign of internal disorder, and it can not be cured by tablets or gels. Finally I went through a cleaning program by myself (colon and liver), stopped esting any artificial food, and also easy digested carbohydrates (bread, cookies, sugar, portatoes and so on), and my acne virtually disappered in some months. I have again it only if violate my diet."Replies
03/19/2009: C.S.M from VERO BEACH, FL replies: "Popular Low-Glycemic Diet Shows Promise as Acne Treatment
This study was reported at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology today.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Health) Mar 09 - Most patients with acne report an improvement in their condition when they follow the low-glycemic diet originating in Florida known as the South Beach diet, researchers reported here at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Panta Rouhani, PhD, with the University of Miami, and colleagues analyzed 41-item questionnaires completed by 2,528 patients who said that they were on the diet at the time they completed the survey and 467 who were not following the diet.
"Today, it is generally accepted by dermatologists that diet and acne are not related; however, this notion is based on only two primary references," the authors wrote in their poster presentation.
"Diet is a well-recognized factor in acute and chronic hyperinsulinemia," they added. "Recent evidence suggests that diet-induced hyperinsulinemia triggers a hormonal cascade, eliciting an endocrine response that simultaneously triggers unregulated epithelial growth and keratinization as well as androgen-mediated sebum secretion."
The South beach diet mimics the nutritional characteristics of diets found in non-Westernized populations known to be acne-free, they said. It is free of processed foods, cereal grains, dairy products, refined sugars, and refined oils and almost entirely comprised of unprocessed fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, fish, and seafood.
Whether adherence to a low-glycemic diet can alter acne in Western populations is unknown.
In the study, patients with acne lesions (75.3%) were asked if any changes in their skin occurred and whether these changes were improvements in their acne.
Overall, 86.7% reported noted skin changes to be improvements (90.7% of those on acne treatment versus 81.7% of those untreated, p < 0.001).
Most (86.7%) noted these improvements within 3 months of starting the South Beach diet (58.0% of those on acne treatment versus 42.0% of those untreated, p = 0.34).
Of patients on conventional acne treatment, 91.0% either reduced the dose or amount of treatment they were using.
The investigators said that the improvement in acne after a low-glycemic diet suggests that lifestyle factors such as nutrition may indeed play a role in the pathogenesis of acne.
They added that future research is needed to further clarify the underlying pathophysiologic mechanism and independent roles of nutrition, weight loss, and exercise."
[YEA] 10/22/2008: Amanda Rene from Anderson, CA: "Prepare a bath as directed on the epsom salt container. Do not use ANY soap, bubble bath, etc in this bath. Soak in it for a couple minutes. Then, using a washcloth, scrub the skin for a minute or so. Soak the area in the bath for 20 minutes. Towel dry. Do this daily or every other day.
I found this out accidentally and I was pleasantly surprised to see it had an effect on my rear-end acne. I've been trying to get rid of it for 2 months! Soap and exfoliators seemed to make matters so much worse. After the first two soaks, the skin appeared softer and no longer red and inflamed. The cyst like formations were going away! I've been doing this for a week now and my skin looks and feels so much nicer now. I still have a few bumps but I bet they will be gone in another week. I hope this works as well for others as it did for me!"Replies
10/23/2008: Trina from Calgary, Alberta replies: "i agree that the epsom salts is a great help for this. but i was told to stop using ketchup and stop eating cold meats because of the nitrates, i decided to give it a try. now i take the epsom bath for sore muscles because i dont have the body acne any longer... hope this helps"
02/04/2012: Jennifer from Sunrise, Fl, Usa: "I've suffered from acne since I was 13, with bouts of body acne that spring up every now and then. Body acne is a humiliating and self esteem-damaging problem. One of the reasons that acne is so frustrating and hard to treat because a lot of us don't get to the root of the problem. Topical treatments just act like a band-aid to temporarily treat the existing blemishes, but doesn't keep new ones from popping up. To provide a lasting treatment for acne, you have to get to the root of the problem.
Here is a small, but certainly non-inclusive, list of what may be the problem and how to treat the acne problem accordingly.
Your acne might be hormonal if:
- You are female
- You are a young male/female (13-18 years old)
- You are pregnant
- You get breakouts around your menstrual cycle/you are menopausal
- You are taking steroids/growth hormone supplements
- You have a known (or suspected) hormone imbalance, such as a thyroid problem, PCOS, or have other symptoms of a hormone imbalance such as increased bodily hair, irregular periods, hair loss, or difficulty controlling weight.
- You have acne on your face as well as your body
If you have hormonal acne, clearly the way to treat it is to balance the hormones. For me and a lot of other women who suffered from hormonal acne, my skin cleared up considerably after taking birth control pills. Some women also notice their skin clearing considerably after taking hormone-balancing herbal supplements such as maca, raspberry leaf tea, dong quai, or spearmint tea. I have also seen a lot of women claim that drinking detox tea clears their skin considerably!
For all acne sufferers, you need to be on a CLEAN DIET. I travel to France several times a year and I notice that while many American girls have acne, I have rarely seen a French girl with even a blemish. Seeing the way that French girls eat, I am not surprised - the French eat mostly natural foods free of nasty American chemicals and preservatives. If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. Also, wash fruits and veggies THOROUGHLY before eating, because American pesticides contain estrogen compounds. Another French habit I noticed - and that I think Americans need to do more of - is drink more water and less sodas. 8 glasses of water will help clear your skin and give it a healthy glow.
Your acne might be due to retention hyperkeratosis (failure of the skin to exfoliate itself) if:
- Your acne responds well to exfoliation/chemical peels/Retin-A
- You have a lot of clogged pores and blackheads
- Your acne gets worse after periods of sweating (such as going to the gym)
For me, clogged pores are the cause of my body acne problems. My skin responded beautifully to using Aqua Glycolic body wash with a Japanese bath towel in the shower. Just put a little dab of body wash on every morning and scrub away (if your skin is blemished, do not overscrub - it will aggravate your acne). Be patient with this treatment - body acne takes longer to go away than facial acne - it took me 2 months to get perfectly clear body skin. ALWAYS take a shower after sweating or if you have some kind of product on your skin - like sunscreen - that can clog your pores. Also, if you have a tendency to have clogged pores, watch what shampoos and conditioners you use. When you rinse your hair, take care that the lather does not touch your body. If you live in a humid/hot environment, wear cottons or other breathable fabrics, and do not wear tight-fitting clothes.
Your acne might be product-related if:
- You don't take measures to prevent shampoo/conditioner residue from hitting your back/buttocks/chest or area(s) where there is body acne
- Your shampoo/conditioner contains pore-clogging ingredients or SLS
- You are using a product to control your body acne and your body acne has flared up worse after using it
- You also have acne on your scalp/suspect you may be allergic to a shampoo/conditioner you are using
If you suspect you might have product-related acne, switch your products. If the acne clears up, the product might be the problem.
Your acne might be fungus (pityrosporum folliculitis) related if:
- You are a man (although this condition occurs with women too - but is more common with men)
- You have a rashey kind of body acne, with chronic, red, itchy pustules on the back and chest, or sometimes on the neck, shoulders, upper arms and face
- Your body acne occurs mostly in the summer, after you sweat with tight-fitting clothes on, during sports activities, or are hot/sweaty
- You have come in contact with someone else with a fungal infection
This is the kind of body acne my fiance, and a lot of other guys, suffer from. This kind of acne benefits from using an anti-fungal shampoo (Nizoral or Head and Shoulders), coconut oil, or an anti-fungal cream on the affected area. Do not wear tight-fitting clothes when working out - wear something breathable instead.
Band-aids (quick fixes) to heal existing acne in the meantime:
- Tea Tree Oil/Alcohol solution - the best to kill acne bacteria/dry out existing acne
- Benzoyl Peroxide 5% - very good at killing bacteria/drying out acne - but beware, it will stain clothing.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - a lot of people rave about this cure, but it hasn't worked for me. I recommend the brand with "the mother".
Good luck everyone, hope that this helps someone with this frustrating problem!"