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How to banish body breakouts

Karen Leland is the bestselling author of Time Management in an Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day. She is featured columnist for The Huffington Post Living section. Read her blog and contact her at karenleland.com.

Clear skin from head to toe

You're just about to put on your brand new pink polka dot bikini and head out to the beach when you notice that small band of blemishes on your back. Sometimes it seems like body breakouts occur at the most inopportune times and in the most inconvenient places. To spend this summer free and clear, here are five smart ways to banish body breakouts.

Woman in Towel

Exfoliate

Jordana Mattioli, a medical esthetician at plastic surgeon Dr Adam Kolker's office, recommends using a body wash containing salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid that dislodges oil and debris from your pores). Leave the wash on for a few minutes so that the active ingredients can penetrate, rather than rinsing it down the drain right away. Alternating with scrubs also works, but Mattioli says to make sure they aren't too oily and rinse clean, as opposed to leaving a slick residue on the skin.

Use antibacterial products

"Oil plus bacteria equals a breakout," says Mattioli. The solution is to control and remove excess oil via exfoliation and then to use an antibacterial product (such as benzoyl peroxide) to help kill the bad bacteria that cause acne. "Benzoyl peroxide is a tried and true (and FDA approved) treatment for banishing breakouts," she says. Available both over the counter and in a stronger prescription version, you can find benzoyl peroxide in washes, spot treatments, lotions and gels.

Let go of the loofah

"The warm, moist environment in your shower is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which can exacerbate body breakouts and inflammation of the skin," says Ellen Miller, Senior Beauty Editor for Shape magazine. Miller recommends tossing out all your in-shower exfoliators, like loofahs and nylon puffs. Instead, choose a special oil-free body wash that contains salicylic acid. "I recommend Peter Thomas Roth Blemish Buffing Beads, because it smells light and citrusy — not like medicine — and contains moisturizing ingredients to prevent over-drying," says Miller.

Be well watered

Dr Andrea R Frayser, N.D. says that one key to managing body breakouts is to make sure and drink a sufficient amount of water — not juice, sodas or teas, but plain water. "Water helps your body to properly dispose of cellular waste materials and assists in maintaining internal balance, which is key to controlling breakouts," says Frayser.

Use precaution when working out

"I have seen patients develop acne after taking up Bikram yoga," says Medical Aesthetician Susan Perry. "You want to avoid excessive heat (no super-hot long showers, saunas, steam rooms or baths) since it stimulates oil glands into further production, which can lead to more breakouts," she says. In addition, Perry recommends rinsing off as soon as possible after sports, wearing breathable fabrics when working out and laundering exercise clothes in fragrance-free detergent. Oh, and for you mountain bikers out there, make sure the insides of your sport helmets are treated with an antibacterial wipe before and after use. "I see lots of teens get acne from their helmets," says Perry.

Check out more acne banishing tips

Natural remedies for adult acne

Acne treatment dos and don'ts

Best ways to cover acne for your skin type

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