How To Treat Body Acne | Donaldson Plastic Surgery

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By Tatjana Dzamov |

All About Adult Acne

The Blemishes On Our Faces and Bodies Have Various Causes & Different Solutions

How to treat adult acne

Acne. Pimples. Pustules.

No matter what we call it, these irritated areas of bacteria buildup can be a major source of insecurity and even discomfort for some patients. We can feel them coming on, they show up, get irritated and cause us to feel less than the best version of ourselves. Should we pop them? Should we put something on them? Should we leave them be? What can we do to prevent them next time?

Our experts are here to help you get a hold of your unique skincare situation and live a more confident daily life. Now, let’s get under your skin! 

What Causes Adult Acne? 

Acne can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Diet
  • Poor sleep
  • Improper skincare routine
  • Unbalanced hormones
  • An increase in strength training
  • Genetics 
  • An underlying virus

“Most people have been exposed to Strep and it can live in the body without appearing as Strep Throat. When someone consumes a lot of eggs, dairy and sugar – three common trigger foods – it can inflame acne. If the virus is already present and you already have acne, this diet can make things much worse.” 

Tatjana Dzamov

When Should You Avoid Touching or Attempting To Treat Acne?

You can have regular pustules or you can have full-blown cystic acne – the big, red, angry and painful ones. This typically involves a very deep infection. Many patients believe they can just squeeze it all out and clean it, but you should not. This type of acne should never be messed with because all you’re doing is pushing the infection deeper and deeper into the skin.

Surgical intervention may be used in some severe cases to surgically remove the infection before it spreads further.  

What Causes Tiny Pimples On The Chest?

The primary driver of these small blemishes is simply hormones. Chest acne typically develops and fades like facial acne, but friction from clothing, excessive sweating, inadequate cleaning and some cosmetic products could make things worse. 

“For us women, we use all kinds of hair products – including conditioner. In the shower, conditioner can run down the back and the chest; if this isn’t properly cleansed or exfoliated after, then it can accumulate in the pores which creates a build-up of bacteria and a perfect storm for acne.” 

Tatjana Dzamov
A close look at a patient receiving a deep cleaning facial

What Does It Mean When Pimples Show Up Suddenly? 

This could be indicative of a recent behavior or lifestyle change. Dietary disruptions, such as a large intake of alcohol or added sugar, can cause us to break out. The introduction of a new skincare or makeup product is often a culprit when it comes to spontaneous acne. Patients should watch out for parabens and synthetic fragrances before eating them, breathing them in or putting them on their skin. 

“So many labels say ‘natural’ on them but that word has lost its meaning. It’s often used to cover up what is actually inside of the product. As professionals, we need to step in to help educate consumers and get them to question what’s in their food and their skincare products.” 

Tatjana Dzamov

How To Treat Adult Acne 

Professional Treatments

If you are experiencing hyperpigmentation as a result of acne, then microneedling, BBL treatments and chemical peels can help.

Many patients mistake permanent scarring for temporary hyperpigmentation due to acne that has healed or is still healing. If you’re experiencing more of the blue, purple or reddish pigmentation, it will likely go away on its own. You’re still in the healing process but the inflammation is so deep that it takes more time.

“These are all effective methods when it comes to treating acne but you still have to address the underlying cause. No matter how much product you use or how many treatments you do, the skin can always inflame again.”

Tatjana Dzamov

At-Home Care & Upkeep

Medical Grade Acne Pads

A proper skincare regimen is your greatest line of defense against face and body acne. In fact, we really should spend as much time and effort on our bodies as we do our faces.

  • It all begins with cleansing and the use of a benzoyl peroxide body wash. Acne pads with glycolic and salicylic acid are also critical to this equation because they can exfoliate the skin, liquefy excess oil and kill the acne-causing bacteria. You should also avoid products with harsh sulfates. 
  • The next step is hydration.  Lock in the moisture by using a product that contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and/or ceramides.
  • The final phase is protection. Sadly, the sun is not your skin’s friend and you should use a lightweight sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher throughout the entire year to protect against UV exposure. 

What Happens If Acne Isn’t Addressed? 

Laser therapy being performed to reduce acne scars

You’re going to have a persistent problem on your hands and your skin will continue to be inflamed. And because we tend to pick at our skin, this neglect can lead to permanent scarring. 

How To Remove Acne Scars? 

In the right hands, microneedling combined with a chemical peel can be a phenomenal treatment for acne and acne scars. However, microneedling can’t be used on all areas. This is where Morpheus8 comes into play. This effective treatment deploys a series of needles and radiofrequency into the skin to generate more collagen, tighten skin, emulsify fat and ultimately reduce the appearance of scars. 

Some BroadBand Laser treatments (BBL) can be used on scarring but must be avoided by patients with darker skin tones.

How To Prevent Body Acne: The Lifestyle Choices You Can Make To Stay In The Clear 


Our food has a lot to do with how we look, how we feel and how our skin reacts. The following are some of the most common, diet-based irritants that can cause pimples: 

  • Dairy: Too much dairy can cause the body to produce an excess amount of oil which will clog the pores 
  • Sugar: Too much sugar can cause a lot of inflammation and glycation that breaks down collagen and elastin fibers
  • Caffeine: While caffeine does increase cortisol, that is not a driver of greater inflammation; the real culprit with caffeine is its ability to cause increased oil production in the skin
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can directly contribute to a change in hormones; a rapid change in hormones can trigger acne

The Role Of Hormones

High testosterone can cause acne – but this goes beyond just simply measuring your current levels. There could be two patients with identical testosterone levels, but one may break down the hormone in a way that makes it stronger. Those individuals are more likely to have acne. 

Estrogen dominance can also cause breakouts. Symptoms of estrogen dominance typically mirror those associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), including heavy periods, bloating, pain, irritability, tender breasts, etc. 


Sweating, in general, is great for detox. But if you sit in your sweat or don’t wipe down your equipment, you may experience an acne breakout. 

People who lift heavy weights tend to have greater inflammation. Trying yoga, dabbling in meditation and focusing on lighter weights with more reps can lead to less impact on our joints which also reduces inflammation. 

Gut Health

If you’ve tried making changes to your diet and still don’t see relief, the issue could be due to an imbalance of gut bacteria or Dysbiosis. If you have food sensitivities and acne, a gut health test could help you determine the root causes of your issues. 

The Impact Of Genetics 

We’re not doomed by our genetics! We actually have control over about 80% of our genes and use epigenetics (diet and lifestyle) to essentially turn them on and off. While our genes do play a role in how our skin looks, feels and reacts, we have a number of excellent tools at our disposal to counteract what our parents gave us.

Other Lifestyle Choices & Habits That Can Make A Difference:

  • Using satin pillowcases 
  • Avoiding smoking 
  • Keep out of the tanning bed
  • Don’t touch your face so much 
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Get less stressed! 

Tatjana & Dr. Weston Author bio

About The Authors 

Tatjana Dzamov is the senior medical aesthetics expert at Donaldson Plastic Surgery. With 25+ years of experience, she is our resident expert and helps patients handle their acne issues on a daily basis through professional treatments and custom skincare regimens.

Dr. Marguerite Weston is our in-house functional medicine expert. With roots in sports medicine and family practice, she is well-versed in how certain lifestyles and dietary choices impact our bodies. Dr. Weston routinely creates specialized wellness plans that get to the root cause of patient pain points, which sometimes include acne breakouts. 

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