A guide to the how’s and why’s of body acne

Okay. We’re all familiar with facial acne. It can be red, it can be painful, and it can be chronic. But why do some of us get acne on other parts of our body?

Body acne is often overlooked, but it can be just as awful and embarrassing as facial acne. It can make you feel uncomfortable wearing singlets to the gym and leave you feeling like you have to cover up even when the sun is out. It’s not fun. 

The causes for body acne, just like facial acne, are widespread, multifaceted and often driven by internal and external triggers. But don’t worry, together we can get to the bottom of your body acne. First up, ask yourself these questions, and make note of the answers, to help us investigate: 

Where on your body is the acne? 

Where your body acne is situated can actually provide a whole lot of information about why it’s there and what’s going on. Just like facial mapping. So it’s always good to take note of where you get your flare-ups. Common affected areas can include:

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Back of arms
  • Chest 
  • Upper and lower back
  • Top of thighs
Next, what does your body acne look and feel like? 

The look and feel of your body acne tells us a lot about whether the driver is stemming from poor digestion and gut function, dietary choices, detox capacity, hormonal imbalances, inflammation or lifestyle choices. More often than not though it’s a combo of everything. 

Some of the things to note about your body acne, include:

  • Is it deep and cystic, red and inflamed?
  • Do you get blackheads?
  • Is the acne more superficial and predominantly whiteheads?
  • Does it feel like small, congested bumps?
  • Does it itch?
  • Is it more rashy and inflamed?
What makes your body acne better or worse?

Knowing this is crucial to identifying whether your body acne is potentially fungal in nature, includes a dermatitis or eczema component, made worse by your personal care products, triggered by stress, or fuelled by your diet. It can even come down to whether you’re waxing or shaving or worsened by your style of exercise! Answer these questions to help us determine treatment strategies:

  • Does sweating back it better or worse?
  • Would being in the sun and the sea make it better or worse?
  • Are there any specific products that make it better or worse? 
  • Are there any foods that make it better or worse?
  • Have you been feeling stressed or experiencing poor sleep?
  • Are you shaving or waxing the areas that are breaking out?
Will you need pathology testing? 

The answer is yes, we use pathology testing to thoroughly investigate the root cause of your acne. Whether it’s on your face or your body. General pathology is used to check for nutritional deficiency, inflammation, acidity, thyroid disorder and liver sluggishness. Functional pathology we recommend to check for gut imbalances, hormonal drivers or food allergies and intolerances. But don’t stress, we will help you navigate the world of pathology testing. It’s our specialty after all. 

What diet, supplements and herb will help your body acne? 

Okay, first up – any diet that’s full of anti-inflammatory, alkalising and antioxidant goodness is going to be best. Secondly, any herbs and supplements that reduce inflammation, support immune function, and promote efficient detoxification will also be beneficial. But we have to remember that everyone is different. You’re a unique individual with unique drivers causing your acne, and in that case we must create a customised, personalised treatment regime that’s all yours! 


Could it be a detox problem? 

Remember, your skin is a major organ of elimination, so if you have toxins pushing out through your skin, we need to ask lots of questions about your other organs of elimination and how they’re functioning. The areas include your lymphatics, lungs, kidneys, your liver, your digestive system and even the frequency of your bowel motions!


Can it be resolved? Of course! Let us tell you a good news body acne story… 

“I once treated a 33-year-old female client with persistent, red, inflamed cystic acne across her chest. She came to see me and she cried throughout most of her initial consult. She was understandably feeling really flat and deflated. Her acne was painful, would sit under her skin, refuse to come to a head and take weeks and weeks to heal. She’d been to a GP and dermatologist, and felt as if she’d tried everything. 

She wanted to try for a family and so didn’t want to go on the pill or roaccutane due to their awful side effects. I took her history and sent her off to our GP for general pathology testing. While waiting for the results, we worked on optimising her diet, improving her sleep and stress resilience with some gentle, and traditionally effective, herbal remedies. 

Once her blood tests came back we addressed the nutritional deficiencies, inflammation and acidity reported. We discussed DUTCH testing but for this client her skin cleared so significantly that further testing wasn’t warranted. We did discuss DUTCH for pre-conception to support optimal timing, as well as the quantity of her hormone levels. A super happy outcome!”


– Mel, Naturopathy + Nutrition Expert


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