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Acne mechanica is a form of acne common in young athletes, students,
soldiers, and others. It is triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction
or rubbing of the skin. Acne mechanica can occur anywhere on the face or
body. Those who are already prone to body acne are more likely to
develop acne mechanica.
What Does Acne Mechanica Look
varies in appearance from small, inconspicuous comedones to inflamed
papules and pustules.
In the beginning stages the skin may feel rough or bumpy, even if no
breakouts are easily visible. As the source of the friction continues,
these tiny breakouts become irritated and progress to more obvious,
The Cause of Acne Mechanica
traps heat against the body for a prolonged period of time, rubs or puts
pressure on the skin, can trigger acne mechanica. Athletic equipment is
a prime culprit, especially among teen boys. Football or hockey pads,
baseball caps, sweatbands, and helmets can elicit a breakout on the face
or body of athletes. Sports gear traps heat and sweat against the skin,
which can easily lead to acne mechanica.
Soldiers are another group commonly affected by this form of acne.
Packing heavy gear for long periods of time puts pressure on the skin,
causing irritation and breakouts. Those soldiers stationed in hot, humid
areas have a higher chance of developing acne mechanica.
Tight clothing and undergarments can also cause acne mechanica. It's not
uncommon for acne to develop under tight bra straps, the inner thighs,
or on the buttocks of sufferers.
Other causes include backpack or purse straps, playing a musical
instrument (for example, tucking a violin under the chin), and excessive
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Treatment of Acne Mechanica
Most cases of acne
mechanica respond well to over-the-counter
salicylic acid or
benzoyl peroxide treatments. Try a facial cleanser or body wash containing one
of these ingredients, and use it daily. Thoroughly cleanse the affected
areas, but do not scrub. The added friction caused by scrubbing away at
the skin can actually worsen breakouts. It's best to use a soft
washcloth or your bare hands.
Instead of a cleanser, you can also try
benzoyl peroxide lotions. Apply
to all areas affected by acne. Begin by applying just a few times per
week, and gradually work up to twice a day. Allowing your skin to
acclimate to the treatment will help prevent uncomfortable dryness and
possible peeling of the skin.
Also, be aware that
benzoyl peroxide will bleach fabric. Wait until the
product is completely absorbed before getting dressed or wear old
clothing you don't mind getting stained.
Wearing synthetic fabric seems to worsen acne mechanica because they
trap heat against the body. Whenever possible wear natural fabrics, like
breathable cotton. Since most sports uniforms are made from synthetic
fabrics, make it a habit to wear a cotton t-shirt underneath. This is
especially important under athletic pads, to help reduce the amount of
friction on the skin. Athletes suffering from acne mechanica should
always shower immediately after sporting activities as well, to rinse
away irritating sweat.
Maybe the best treatment of all is to avoid the cause of acne mechanica,
if at all possible. Try a handheld bag instead of a backpack. Don't wear
hats or caps for long periods of time.
Some causes of acne mechanica you can't realistically avoid. Soldiers
can't stop packing gear. Athletes shouldn't stop playing sports. The
best you can do is limit the amount of heat and friction on the skin
when you can, and focus on clearing acne with topical treatments.
See your doctor if you are having trouble controlling acne mechanica
after several weeks of using over-the-counter products. He will have
additional suggestions to help clear your skin.
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