As if breakouts and blemishes on your face weren't threatening enough in the weeks and days leading up to your wedding day, some brides also have to deal with the pesky problem on their backs. Known as bacne, this type of breakout develops for the same reasons that it does on the face. "Oil becomes trapped within your follicles, promoting growth of acne-causing bacteria and inflammation," explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Unfortunately, he explains that bacne is more common during warmer months—which you might otherwise know as the middle of wedding season—because sweat mixes with dirt and oil and becomes trapped under your clothing.
The good news is that there are several solutions for clearing up bridal bacne in time for your big day. Here, dermatologists share their bacne-battling tricks.
Use an exfoliating body wash as an insurance policy.
To keep your skin looking clear ahead of your wedding day, Dr. Zeichner recommends using a gentle exfoliating body wash, such as Dove Exfoliating Body Wash to remove dead cells from the surface of the skin. "This helps keep your pores clean and prevents blockages that would otherwise lead to pimples, without disrupting the skin barrier or causing inflammation," he says. "Think of it as an insurance policy to prevent breakouts."
Reach for benzoyl peroxide.
If you're developing red, angry breakouts, Dr. Zeichner suggests swapping your skin care products for varieties that contain benzoyl peroxide (BPO). "BPO lowers levels of acne-causing bacteria and can help open up the pimples themselves," he says. "Apply a BPO cleanser, such as Clean & Clear Continuous Control Daily Acne Face Wash, to your back to help remove excess oil and dissolve the connections between the cells that block the pores."
Retinol is a vitamin A-derivative that helps regulate and clear skin. It used to be that you could only score retinol in prescription form, but since January of 2017 it has been available in low concentrations over the counter. "Differin is one over-the-counter retinol-containing acne treatment that I recommend," says Mona Gohara, M.D., dermatologist at Advanced DermCare.
If there's enough time between the onset of a bacne breakout and the date of your wedding, it may be worthwhile to ask your dermatologist to prescribe you something stronger than what you can find over the counter. "Certain prescription medications help kill the acne-causing bacteria, as well as decrease inflammation, redness and size of the acne bump," says Ted Lain, M.D., dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology. "Of course, every medication has potential side effects, so having a conversation with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of any treatment option will help you to decide on the best option."
Use SPF 30 or higher.
"The last thing you need after clearing up your back is residual marks," says Dr. Gohara. "Make sure to apply sunscreen so UV rays don't make the situation one that lasts months. Do not cake on the makeup to camp the problem." This, she explains, will inevitably drive the process further.
Visit your dermatologist.
Bacne can sometimes be more difficult to treat than acne on the face or chest, so an in-office visit with your dermatologist may be necessary to determine a get-clear plan that works best for you. "If over-the-counter treatments or behavioral modifications, don't lead to improvement, see your derm stat," says Dr. Lain.