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Baby Got Backne!

Oh, you're going to be humming Sir Mix-A-Lot for the rest of the day? My bad. The awful pun in the title was just too good to pass up.

I've always been pretty lucky acne-wise. Sure, I had pimples as a teenager that made me think the world was like, totally, like, going to end. (High school with a zit? No thanks. Cough, cough. I'm sick. Staying home.) But overall, my skin was probably pretty average. So could someone please explain why my chest and back are breaking out at the ripe old age of 24? I'd really appreciate that.

Seriously, this is an important issue for several reasons. Most importantly, because in order for me to show off the girls tops need to be low. Like, LOW. There's no under the chin cleavage going on over here. By the time I get low enough to the hint of chest that reminds people I'm a woman, there's acne. I don't need any more reasons to be self conscious of my chest, honestly.

I am going to say that this has definitely gotten worse since I started running and working out on a more regular basis. I'm guessing sweat = acne. Rude. So I'm curious - do you find that more exercise = more acne? Has it gotten better or worse with age?

For the last 10 years off and on I've used this St. Ives scrub on my face most days:


P.S. I'm not plugging this product. But if the people at St. Ives want to sent me a lifetime supply of the stuff I WILL TAKE IT. Thanks. Since I use that stuff on my face and it seems to work I'm guessing I should just lather my entire body with it? That could get expensive, fast.

I Googled sports induced acne (AKA "research") and got a bunch of really unhelpful information. Namely, that sports induce acne. Freaking genius figured that one out. I need remedies, people! This article actually had a decent scientific explanation - read it if your idea of a good Saturday is learning about acne. For what it's worth, I came across several articles saying that exercise was GOOD for acne. Here are a few things that tend to help:

-NOT wearing sythetic fabrics. Maybe the old cotton tee really is best?
-No makeup when exercising (totally guilty of this - left on from the day before)
-Showering immediately after exercise (again, guilty!)
-Don't reuse sports bras or shirts

I'm embarrassed about that last one. Sometimes I hang up a sports bra and wear it the next day, or give it a quick shower rinse and call it clean. Apparently that makes me some kind of nasty monster.

Do you deal with sports induced acne? Or do you find that regular exercise reduce skin problems?
VANITY ALERT: I always think my skin looks best right after a workout. I have a glow that doesn't come naturally for a hermit like me. But definitely, more exercise - more body acne. Ugh. 

Do you plan to hum "Baby Got Back" for the rest of the day?
No shame. We're all friends here.  


  1. I always shower after a run, but I sweat like a man. Especially in the summer due to the ATL humidity. I use Neutrogena body wash with salicylic acid and it does a great job on my body!

  2. Yep, I have it too. It's not horrible but it's there a bit. I have just been using Neutrogena Clear Body Scrub to keep it tolerable. I actually only started getting the chest acne a couple months ago....right down in there too...not up top so much. My back gets like one at a time. I just hope it's under my sports bra so no one at the gym can see it. Haha...great strategy, eh?

    By the way, if I take a class that I don't sweat much in, I totally will wear my bra again too. I only have 4 sports bras I enjoy wearing. Well, there are 7 days in the week and I don't do laundry every day. You do the math.

  3. Love that stuff! Its pretty harsh on my face so yes, I use it on the body! Hope it works for you.

  4. I think it sounds like you have already answered your own question... shower after you workout out.

    And believe me, when you get to be your Mother's age, you will regret that you didn't take your makeup off every night and wash your face before bed.

    I have also read that acne is aggravated by hormones so monthly cycles cause havoc too.

    Are you eating anything that you never used to eat?

    How often are you changing your jammies and tees?

    Any chance you are using harsher laundry soaps?

    All things to consider.

    But I repeat... wash your face before bed! You will remember and thank me 20 years from now!

  5. I use that same scrub and have since I was in high school. It's freakin' fantastic! I use it on my back and chest in the shower too.

  6. If you skin feels really oily, use dish shop to wash your chest and back. Yeah, it sounds crazy but I first learned about that trick on a pregnancy message board and it really works.

    If it doesn't feel oily, you're probably just dirty. :)

  7. So I'm a mom and often have to do stuff immediately after working out so I can't clean up immediately so I use preperation h wipes. The witch hazel is a calming astringent and also reduced inflamation so it will reduce the appearance of bad breakouts. But talk about embarrassing, having to buy preperation h wipes ;)

  8. What to know what's worse than body acne? Body fungus. I got it last summer after excessive sweat trapped by my sports bra and had to get a prescription for anti-fungal cream. I can't believe I just admitted that. All in the name of making you feel a little less gross about wearing the same sports bra two days in a row:)

  9. I totally get breakouts on my back from working out. I shower right after and don't rewear sports bras, but it still happens. Yuck! Glad it's not just me lol.

  10. I think it's definitely a heat/bacteria issue. Maybe try getting some of those facial wipes (Target's brand is really cheap) and wiping down your back before you put on your clean workout gear. Then immediately take a shower when you're done.

    You're only 24? You're a baby :)

  11. I'll own up to my fungus, too. If I don't strip out of my sweaty clothes and shower pretty much immediately, my skin becomes a breeding ground for gross. It's genetic. My brother has the same problem. It's gross and mortifying, but totally not contagious, I swear!

    That said, um, I will still rewear stuff if I get lazy. I own like 10 sports bras, so I don't tend to rewear those unless I've gone two weeks without doing laundry, but pants? Sure. I have favorites, okay?

  12. oh i totally reuse workout bras/shirts. after a workout, i hang them on the edge of the bed to "air dry". i keep re-wearing the same shit for probably two weeks. i don't own that many workout shirts! and it costs $8 to do a load of laundry in new york, NOT INCLUDING DRYING, so i am not doing that shit every other day.

    this is why i run alone.

  13. As long as everyone else is being honest! I do too! I also don't have the luxury of coming home right after a workout and showering so that normally has to wait 2-3 hours later.

  14. I definitely have the exercise induced acne. It sucks. Showering and not reusing sports bras and shirts usually helps a bit. The immediate removal of sweaty clothes and showering asap seems to be the best treatment for me.

  15. In moist climates, it's even more important to shower, wash your face before bed, and use exfoliating scrubs. The damp air keeps your skin from naturally shedding dead cells. St. Ives is awesome for all kinds of body parts. The acne I get on my face seems to be hormonally induced, any thoughts on how to prevent that would totally be appreciated! :)

  16. This will make me sound like an old lady, but I had the same problem when I was your age. Seriously. I never had acne when I was younger. Then around the age of 23-24 I started getting breakouts. It has since cleared up. The funny thing is that in talking to friends I have learned that they had the same issue! My advice is to be patient little lamb- you will grow out of it! Hahaha

  17. I think acne development really depends on the person and their skin (oiliness, toughness, etc). I don't always shower immediately post-run/bike, and definitely will re-wear clothes (except bike shorts) without washing them, and I haven't found that I develop more acne. However, since I've started swimming 3-4 times a week, my face has been breaking out in ways it hasn't in over ten years. Go figure.

  18. Luckily for me, my acne attacks mainly my face, although I've experienced your problem. I've been using some sort of zit-remover since I was ten. TEN. I hated when my friends in high school would be like OMG!!! I have a ZIT!! Going to school with only one zit would have been a dream come true for me. I'm still waiting to experience that day, actually. Seems like you got some helpful suggestions from other commenters, and I don't really have any, so go with those!

  19. Um I think you found your remedy....don't reuse your sports bra! Ewww! I couldn't....I also hate not showering immediately. And I wear cotton shirts most days. No backne here!

  20. I don't rewear sports bra's and I have about 20 shirts so that's not an issue. I try to wash my face off as fast as I can because I had horrible acne the first year I started running. Getting older doesn't help either. hahano.

  21. I don't get acne but sometimes I have a red heat rash type thing that happens between the girls and under them. I TOTALLY blame running and sweat. I can't say it works but sometimes I dab some Teatree oil on and sometimes a straight vitamin E oil (Bio Oil over this side of the pond), I figure stripping the sweat by showering straight away strips the oil away so if I replace it it helps?!

    PS my running kit today consisted of me rummaging through the wash basket and hauling out kit I can remember wearing more than once before already - eeewwwww can't believe I just owned up to that!

  22. Try products with sulfur - it inhibits bacterial growth by acting as a limiting reagent against the sulfur produced in bacterial metabolism. I like DDF products, especially their mask. Put a dab of that stuff on an emerging zit, and it's gone in no time.

    1. True. Sulfer soaps are excellent for sports acne, as there is often a host of bacteria involved.

  23. Ugh yep I do the sports bra thing too.... AND my bacne gets worse when I do =( also, WHY is body acne so much more painful than regular zits??? It's especially frustrating because you can't avoid having stuff come into contact with body acne -- you HAVE to wear clothes etc ya know? Ugh.

  24. I reuse my sports bra - at least 2 or 3 times and depending on how much I love that one sports bra.

    But I do like to shower after a run. Usually within an hour (run, eat, play on computer while eating, shower). I can't do anything without a shower.

    Have you try a loofah? Maybe that will help scrub the back and reduce the acne?

  25. Once in a while I'll get one on my chest but not often. More than anything, exercise affects my face. Especially around the hairline and like behind the bottom part of my ears. I used Proactiv for a long time effectively, and then it just stopped working. Now I use prescription Epiduo. That works great.

  26. i'm with pam, i have more trouble around my hairline. and damn you for getting that song stuck in my head!!!! :)

  27. I have wrinkles and pimples and it sucks. I don't seem to get many on my chest, but get them on my back and now the tops of my arms - which is horrible!! Seriously by the time I'm nearly 40 i really didn't think i have to be buying teenage skin products!

  28. i use dial body wash. its cheap, and is antibacterial. i got alot of backne when ifirst started running. i only wore cotton so id say nix that idea. my dad (a Dr.) told me to invest in good dry wick shirts and a body wash thats antibacterial--most people dont need it but when you sweat extra like running you do need it

  29. When I was at basic training I got front and back acne - BAD (is that TMI). I thought i had a rash it was soo bad. The medics explained that it was common because of all the sweating we were doing (it was summer - but you're indoors a lot so it's like summer inside). It went away when I returned to my normal amount of working out (instead of the super over drive workouts at basic training). The medic said was really well and wear clean shirts (those were the days before wicking shirts - hmm).
    Good luck friend - it's all good. Maybe you could get some falsies to boost your girl parts until the acne goes away.

  30. I used to get epic zits on my back. They have gone away since eating way more vegetables and eliminating dairy from my diet. I think dairy has a link to acne, pizza face as an insult describes both diet and looks.

  31. I feel (and smell) much better when I wear a cotton t-shirt. And don't worry; I wear the same sports bra more than once! You are not the only one!

  32. I used to break out on my chest sometimes when I wore a sports bra while running. I mainly wear running tanks with built-in bras now and I don't have much of an issue. I think the sweat would kind of build up on the top band of the bra, cause that is exactly where I would always break out. I also use Neutrogena oil-free acne wash on my face and chest in the shower and it works great.

  33. Check out I swear by her products. They're well researched, not tested on animals, available online at reasonable prices and they work! I don't work for her -- ha ha. But her products have cleared up ALL my skin issues.

    My Running Shortz

  34. I sometimes get acne on my back or chest and it seems to happen more in the winter when I re-wear my under armour tops. That explains a lot! Guess I just made more laundry for myself! lol

  35. I'm pretty sure I could never run in cotton, too much stretching and sagging material. If you get detergents that specialize in getting sweat and gross out of your clothes (and wash every time), it'll probably help.

  36. You could see a dermatologist and get on a mild antibiotic. My doctor put me on doxycycline. When I get stressed, my acne really flares up. I used to take it daily. Now I just take it when I notice it flaring up. It seems to help me. They may be able to give you a medicated body wash since it just seems to be your back and chest.

  37. I just went to the doctor for my breakouts, on my forehead and chest. I never had this problem until the last few years, never got zits growing up one at a time maybe. Dr. said adult onset acne is very common. I think I need to shower quicker after working out. I could never reuse workout clothes...too stinky and sweaty!

  38. This is happening to me too...I'm going to use ever ones advice too! Thanks for posting.

  39. Lol! That was incredibly clever, although evil because now I have to find that song and listen to it!

    I am guilty of some of the same gross things as you are. My chest acne isn't too bad and bacne is nonexsistent luckily. I do use my facial cleanser on my chest though, if I don't I notice I break out more.

    When I was preggers, my acne was AWFUL and I started using Aveeno clear complexion products and it really helped. I still use them and have a pretty decent complexion.

    Good luck! Hopefully you'll get your lifetime supply of facial scrub so you can use it as a whole body scrub :)

  40. Since starting this half marathon training, my face has decided to break out in BIG and RED and PAINFUL acne bumps just on my left (face) cheek. It's been so NOT fun. I just started using an acne gel, but I have to be careful what kind I use because I'm allergic to benzyl peroxide, which is in 99% of strong acne medicine.


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