"Sporadic acne breakouts occur for nearly everyone," says dermatologist Anthony M. Rossi, MD, an assistant attending at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Bad news for us all (though slightly comforting in a misery-loves-company sort of way).
In fact, acne is the most common skin conditions afflicting Americans; about 50 million of us suffer from unslightly blackheads, whiteheads, and deeper bumps and lumps on the face, neck, chest, upper arms, shoulders, and back, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Now, it's easy to cover up the angry inflammation with sweaters and long sleeves. But in the midst of summer? That's not an option. Your best defense is prevention (and treating any existing breakouts). Read: The Best Ways to Treat, Cure, and Prevent Back Acne.
It also helps to know what's causing your breakouts in the first place. Essentially, a pimple forms when your hair follicles or sweat glands become blocked, Rossi says. Though genetics, hormones, emotional stress, and medication can also influence your acne.
Here are seven bad habits you're probably guilty of that are plugging your pores, boosting bacteria, and worsening back acne. Make the fixes today so you can stop stressing and reduce your risk for scarring.
Note: If you have cystic acne (deep, painful pimples that won't go away with lifestyle tweaks or over-the-counter products), see a dermatologist; prescription medications are stronger and work better to treat severe breakouts.