The very fact that most adult men didn’t want to identify themselves or talk about body acne for this story is a testament to the gravity of this problem, and the body image issues associated with it. However, by identifying the cause of body acne and making some lifestyle changes, one can conquer this unmentionable skin disorder, the causes of which run deep. According to Dr. Deepali Bhardwaj, one of Delhi’s leading dermatologists, common causes of body acne in adult men is excess proteins, steroids, and certain hormonal issues. “Eating too much of fried and fatty foods, following wrong diets, consuming milk in some cases, and stress could lead it, as also a lack of hygiene (which means especially post gym when there is sweat on the body), just taking a mild shower and wearing the same clothes for several days.”

“Excessive male hormones, like testosterone, lead to excessive oil production that blocks hair follicles, causing inflammation and overgrowth of bacteria, which cause body acne,” explains Lovneet Batra, clinical nutritionist at Fortis La Femme, Delhi.

A toxic build-up due to lack of water intake and, consequently, the release of toxins in the form of sweating, is listed as other reasons by natural skin and wellness expert Suparna Trikha Dewan. “For those men who don’t sweat enough because they don’t drink enough water, exercise, and wear synthetic or nylon clothing be it in the form of trousers or shirts, these are the main causes that could lead to body acne, besides the fact that it is also related to one’s personal hygiene. So bathe regularly and deodorise the body, especially under the armpits. I find a lot of men have body acne in the thigh area due to an unhygienic lifestyle, so that needs to be taken care of,” she elaborates.

Yatan Ahluwalia, grooming, style and etiquette consultant and columnist, says even though it varies from person to person, the back, besides the face and chest, is a very common area for body acne in most adult men. Dr. Bhardwaj lists the shoulders, forehead, nape, upper chest, and back as acne-prone areas.

To remedy this, the first thing to ascertain is if your skin is oily or dry. “For oily skin, washing with a mild soap or a face wash and application of cooling herbal packs helps. Dry skin tends to peel off, particularly in winters, thus inviting the pores to get infested by acne-causing bacteria. In such a case, washing the area with a non-foaming herbal face wash and application of serums or even oils enriched with anti-acne herbs helps. This generally takes care of mild cases of acne, and prevents its recurrences. In moderate to severe cases, medication prescribed by a dermatologist may be required,” advises Ayurveda expert Vaidya Deepak Bhanot from beauty and wellness brand The Ayurveda Experience.

Ahluwalia, too, recommends natural solutions and organic brands. “The idea is to keep the area free of sweat, dirt and grime. The pores should not be clogged, and you may use an astringent or a body wash that has been formulated for oily or acne-prone skin. Also check if the cause is allergens in products or the detergents you may be using to wash your clothes,” he adds. Home remedies like mixing lemon juice, Fuller’s Earth and sandalwood powder, white vinegar in equal quantities and applied as paste on the acne and washed off after 15-20 minutes are recommended by Dr. Bhardwaj. “Take a bath using a transparent soap with lesser chemicals in the morning and evening, and apply a powder post to the gym. Also, wearing a deodorant and ensuring hygiene will help control body acne. In addition, get your blood tested, and consult with a dermatologist to find out any underlying hormonal disorders that could be leading to acne and eruptions. Avoid excessive proteins or supplements, and do not take shots for bodybuilding as they may contain steroids,” she cautions. Dr Bhardwaj also points out that among the various kinds of treatments are chemical peels such as lactic acid, mandelic acid, and salicylic acid, and laser treatments like CO2 laser and Erbium YAG lasers that can treat adult acne.

Trikha Dewan stresses on the importance of having a high water intake to control body acne. “Consume about eight to 10 glasses of water in a day and have regular meals of raw foods like salads and fresh fruits — most men are into eating heavy gravies or rich garlic-based foods, which not only leads to sweaty odour, but also emits certain toxins in the body,” she cautions. Another healthy lifestyle habit to inculcate, says Ahluwalia, is to avoid synthetic fabrics, and keep the acne-prone areas well ventilated by wearing lightweight breathable fabrics. “Pure cotton is best, and nothing too clingy or body hugging should be worn,” he says. Trikha Dewan, too, is all for natural fibres like jute, cotton, and linen replacing synthetic clothing. “Change your lifestyle by using fragrances, essential oil splashes,  healthy, exercising regularly, and making a conscious effort to ensure harmful toxins are flushed out of your body. However, start looking at medication when there’s bacteria build-up with puss formation and red blotches, as that happens when left untreated; so that’s the time when you may require medicated antibiotic or antibacterial creams to treat body acne,” she explains.

From a grooming perspective, can make-up be used to conceal it? Ahluwalia advises against it. “Avoid make-up on body areas with acne as it will clog the pores further. Keep it clean, dry and apply products as recommended,” he says. The Ayurveda Experience offers herbal packs with astringent and pore tightening properties. They also have the anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties, which are useful in preventing and treating acne in oily skin. “Our herbal anti-acne oils and serums contain herbs that heal the damaged skin barrier and balance oil secretion by the sebaceous glands, which become hyperactive to combat dryness otherwise, and are suitable for dry and moderately dry skin,” says Vaidya Deepak Bhanot.

FIVE LIFESTYLE HABITS TO KEEP BODY ACNE AT BAY BY LOVNEET BATRA

• Avoid dairy, whey protein, sugar, gluten, refined flours and refined oil

• Limit alcohol consumption and stay hydrated

• Load up on greens and seasonal vegetables, and consume plant-based proteins like lentils

• Build strong gut health

• Get enough sleep