And just because you get facial breakouts doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll also see bumps elsewhere on the body, and vice versa. “Body acne can be completely separate from acne on the face,” explains Engelman.
Why are you breaking out all of a sudden?
From the emotional to the physical, pandemic-related issues are contributing to the rise in acne.
For one, there’s the lifestyle change. “You’re sitting, and there’s more friction on your butt, which can lead to butt breakouts,” Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, previously told Allure. All that rubbing of butt on couch can irritate the skin and lead to breakouts.
The rise of at-home workouts isn’t helping, either. More time spent in sweaty clothes (because who’s changing right after a workout anymore?), and then sitting in those sweaty clothes on the couch, can cause clogged pores.
There’s also the fact that many of us, for various reasons, aren’t taking as much care of our skin as we used to. “People are exhausted, mentally and physically,” says Gohara. “I’ve been in athleisure since March, and I think the same [thinking applies to] skin care. People aren’t taking care of their skin, because they’re like ‘I can’t deal.'” Forget bells and whistles like sheet masks (or butt masks), people are also showering less, which can lead to oil buildup on the body. Others are showering more, which can lead to irritated skin.
Diet is also contributing to newfound body breakouts. “If you are like me, while sitting at home, you may be grabbing for those donuts, ice cream, and wine. Pandemic-related poor diet may be exacerbating your acne,” says Chang. “Studies show that high glycemic diets (high sugar and carb foods) and dairy may worsen acne.”
Lastly, there’s the emotional toll that this year has taken. “Pandemic-related stress may contribute to acne flares,” Chang continues. “Stress induces the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and elevates cortisol levels in the body. Stress has been shown to promote oil production and increase inflammation in the skin, in turn, causing acne flares.”
How to treat body acne
What we have here is a perfect storm of acne-causing factors, and absolutely zero of them — from the stress-inducing global pandemic to the fact that it’s exceedingly difficult not to spend many hours per day on the couch — are your fault. This isn’t so simple as “I slept in my makeup and now I have a zit.” It’s a compounding of the communal experience right now, and it’s showing up on backs, chests, and butts. As always, but especially right now, try to be gentle with yourself and your choices.