A. A spotty back is caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands (the glands that produce oil).
Q. What triggers it
A. Experts believe that there are a few triggers, including hormonal changes in puberty, too much fat and sugar in the diet, zinc and vitamin B6 deficiency , and stress.
Q. What can I do about it
A. For a start, try wearing cotton next to your skin and letting as much air on your back as possible. You could also try to keep your hands off the spots: touching them all the time just transfers bacteria.
Q. Is scrubbing them a good idea
A. No, you shouldn't be too aggressive when cleaning your back - you'll just strip the skin of its natural protection and leave it vulnerable to bacteria. But it is a good idea to keep your back scrupulously clean: use a mild astringent wash and a long-handled brush in the shower.
Q. Can I add anything to the bath
A. Yes, beauty experts recommend adding a few drops of lavender or tea tree pure essential oil straight to your bath and then soaking yourself in it for a while. You don't want an oily bath, so don't use a carrier oil. Afterwards, you can dab lavender essential oil straight on to the spots: it's very gentle, kills bacteria and helps to heal blemishes. (Don't dab tea tree oil directly on to your back as it is too strong to use neat.)
Q. What about diet changes
A. Drinking lots of water to flush out toxins is always a good idea (there may be an increase in spots to start with, but this is temporary and a sign that your body is getting rid of the toxins). Eat as much raw fruit and vegetables as possible, and go for whole grains. Cut right down on sugar and dairy fats. Take a good all-round vitamin and mineral supplement, and a daily antioxidant formula.
Q. Is there anything I can do to clear it up quickly for summer
A. There is a treatment that many beauty editors swear by: Guinot Hydradermie is gentle and deep cleansing, and widely available at beauty salons.
Q. Should I see my doctor
A. Yes, if you feel it's a problem you can't deal with easily. There are some effective acne treatments available on prescription. However, they take time to work, so it'll be a few weeks before you see any difference.
For more advice and information on the different types of acne and suitable treatments, visit the Acne Support Group
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By Sheena Miller