Skin Care from the Neck Down
Recommended Body Care Products
One pertinent fact for skin anywhere on your body is that every inch has the same needs when it comes to skin-care products. Skin is skin and it needs to be protected from the sun and it is far healthier and softer (and, dare I say it, younger looking) when the products you apply are loaded with antioxidants, ingredients that mimic the structure of skin, anti-irritants, and cell-communicating ingredients. Just like the face, the skin on the body can also function better and absorb moisturizer better when it is exfoliated, so the use of a well-formulated AHA or BHA product can create smooth, even textured skin like you've never experienced before.
The following is a daily list for those often-forgotten parts of your body.
The "Don't Forget Me!" Body Care List...
Though we often think of acne breakouts as a facial issue, for those who struggle with blemishes on other parts of their body, such as backs, neck, thighs, or buttocks, they know all too well how frustrating this can be. Regardless of where a blemish occurs, the same solutions that apply for breakouts occurring on your face apply from the neck down, too:
This skin disorder is one that lots of people struggle with. It is a very common problem involving tiny, benign, raised bumps found typically on the upper arms, thighs, shoulders, and back. Keratosis pilaris tends to be more severe during the winter months but no one is sure why that is the case and it definitely isn't consistent for everyone. Basically, these bumpy rough spots are clogged pores that can get red and irritated but rarely itch. Regrettably there is no available cure or universally effective treatment, though it is generally well accepted that unclogging pores and reducing inflammation can greatly improve matters (Source: eMedicine Journal, July 2, 2001, volume 2, number 7).
AHAs (typically lactic or glycolic acid, both very effective forms of alpha hydroxy acid) can help exfoliate skin cells, but these aren't effective for dissolving the sebum (the hardened oil inside a pore) that cause the problem. As a result, AHAs can't penetrate into the pore and exfoliate the lining of the pore to help remove the plug. For this type of problem a BHA product (with the active ingredient salicylic acid) and a pH low enough for exfoliation to occur can make all the difference in the world. It is also helpful to avoid bar soaps which can irritate skin or cause clogged pores. A gentle body shampoo is best. Keep in mind you can't scrub away the plugs, this will only inflame the area more and still leave the skin feeling rough and bumpy below the surface where the problem exists and the abrasive can't reach.
Note: We hear from many readers dealing with keratosis pilaris that their dermatologist consistently recommends treating it with an AHA product, specifically LacHydrin, available at most drugstores. We're not sure why these doctors aren't recommending BHA products instead, but suspect it's because they're unaware of the small number of options available. Needless to say, the comments we hear are that the AHA product did not reduce the keratosis pilaris, and the doctor had no other options to offer, which left the patient frustrated. Given what we know about keratosis pilaris and how BHA products work, it makes sense to consider them before trying an AHA product, however well-intentioned your dermatologist's advice may be. Some cases of KP may respond well to an AHA exfoliant, but most will find BHA is the superior choice.
Another common condition that can manifest itself as visible red bumps on the arms and thighs is bacterial folliculitis. This inflammatory condition involves an infection of the hair follicle by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. It begins with mild swelling and redness around the hair follicle and may eventually become small, inflamed pustules. This condition is most common in persons with a lot of body hair, but can occur on anyone. The most common form of prescribed treatment is a course of oral antibiotics (penicillins, cephalosporins), but topically applied antibiotics are also helpful (Source: The Skin Sourcebook, 1998, pages 162-164). You can also try treating the affected area with daily application of a product containing 5% or 10% benzoyl peroxide. This topical disinfectant is often helpful in keeping these inflamed, acne-like bumps under control.