Skin Care

How To Get Rid Of Acne On Legs: Causes and Prevention Tips



by Lydia


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We all get the occasional pimple here and there, but what happens when they show up on your legs? You might be thinking it's acne, or maybe they show up as red spots, and you're not sure if it's the razor you recently bought. Either way, whether it's on your thighs or thighs, it's not a pleasant experience having pimples on your legs.

So, you're pondering on how to get rid of acne on legs? There are various ways to go about this. First, it's essential to understand what's causing them. Then, once you have a clear understanding, you can address the issue with different solutions, from topical treatments to water-soluble cleansers.

In this article, we discuss all this and more, plus we also let you know how you can prevent getting acne in the first place.

1) What Causes Pimples On Your Legs?

Acne or acne vulgaris is when the hair follicle on the skin becomes blocked, and a raised red pimple appears over the blocked follicle.

The follicles are blocked with dead skin cells, sebum (oil) and dirt.

According to most dermatologists, it's rare for acne to occur on the legs. What might resemble acne is usually folliculitis, which refers to inflammation of the hair follicles. It comes in the form of small red bumps or white-headed pimples. The bumps usually center around the leg hairs, and even the thinnest ones can be inflamed.

There are several more causes that could lead to the formation of pimples or acne type bumps on your legs:

i) Sweat Build Up

Sweat and sweaty clothing that can trap debris can be a crucial player in leg acne. Therefore, it's essential to cleanse the area after working out or getting sweaty to clean out excess oil and dirt.

If working out in a community gym, you may be exposing your skin to equipment that's not clean. Hence it's essential to cleanse after working out.

ii) Clothing

When it comes to clothing, tight clothes and those made of non-breathable fabric/material can clog pores. This is because the debris is trapped against the skin.

iii) Laundry Detergent

Did you know that your laundry detergent plays an essential role when it comes to your skin? Most detergents contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which can strip the skin of oils and promote excessive oil production. In addition, fragrances can irritate the skin. This is especially critical for those with sensitive skin. Lastly, some detergents leave residue behind, which can affect the skin.

iv) Shaving Your Legs (Ingrown Hairs)

There's nothing wrong with having smooth skin; however, shaving your legs can contribute to ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs are caused when hair grows into your skin instead of out and can cause pimple-like bumps on the skin.

Razor bumps are usually caused by friction from the razor and ingrown hairs.

'Razor-like spots generally go away on their own after a few days.

2) Types of Acne & Spots On Legs

There are different types of ance bumps and spots you're likely to find on your leg. It's essential to know the difference to know how to get rid of acne on the legs.

i) Keratosis pilaris

They resemble tiny red spots and mostly appear on the thighs and upper arms.

Keratosis pilaris can appear anywhere on the leg but is most common on shins, thighs and calves. It doesn't hurt.

The spots can range in color from pale red to purple in a consistent pattern. In addition, they can appear slightly raised as though you have "goosebumps." The red spots are also known as chicken skin as it's thought to resemble the skin of a plucked chicken.

Keratosis pilaris is a common and harmless skin condition caused by a build-up of keratin inside hair follicles.

ii) Pustules

This is another name for pimples.

The pimples are usually red, small bumps that result from when an oil gland in the skin is blocked with oil and dead skin cells. It's common to find these little bumps on the thighs.

Pustules can be painful and appear in an uneven pattern anywhere on the leg. In addition, they can contain a yellow 'head' of pus, which can burst

3) How To Get Rid Of Acne On Legs

i) Cleansing with a Water-Soluble Cleanser

Thinking of how to get rid of acne on legs? One way to go about it is by using a water-soluble cleanser, as it will effectively clean the affected area without leaving any residue. Additionally, you can use a water-soluble facial cleanser or liquid body wash.

The aim is to reduce the oil and suppress the inflammation.

ii) Use a BHA to Exfoliate

Exfoliation is a necessary treatment to consider and learn about when considering how to get rid of acne on the legs. BHAs work well for acne because they can penetrate deep into the pores to unclog. This means keeping the pores clear, preventing future acne on the legs while also treating the current affected area.

iii) Treat Spots with Benzoyl Peroxide

When it comes to Acne vulgaris, Benzoyl peroxide is considered an effective treatment. The acid can be used as a spot treatment on the legs. The treatment aids in killing acne-causing bacteria to speed up the healing process for clearer skin. You can find over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide products at the drugstore or online.

iv) Cleanse With Salicylic or Glycolic Acid

Salicylic acid is also considered an effective acne bacteria-fighting treatment. Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble acid that penetrates deeper than any other acid to treat acne.

Glycolic acid is made of tiny molecules of carbohydrates that break down the top layer of skin cells. In addition, it assists the disintegration of sebum - the skin oil that can contribute to blackheads.

v) Use of Topical Antibiotics

Topical antibiotics are helpful in the reduction of bacteria within the hair follicles and feature an anti‐inflammatory and mild comedolytic effect; their bacteriostatic activity based on interaction with ribosomal subunits and the inhibition of protein synthesis.

For mild to moderate acne mechanica on the legs, topical antibiotics are used as a spot treatment, usually in combination with another acne medication like benzoyl peroxide.

vi) Topical Retinoids

When thinking of how to get rid of acne on legs, topical retinoids can also be considered. They are a mainstay treatment for moderate to severe acne and work by unclogging the pores, allowing other medicated creams and gels to penetrate and function more effectively. In addition, when taken orally, retinoids can reduce outbreaks by curbing the body's production of sebum.

For leg acne, topical retinoids are best used as a spot treatment that can be directly applied to acne mechanica once a day.

4) Tips For Preventing Leg Acne

It can help to know how to prevent leg acne from happening first. These additional tips will help prevent first even it's often said, prevention is better than cure. 

i) Shower After Working Out

Working out can often lead to excessive sweat, which poses a pore-clogging risk. Sweat build-up can clog pores if not cleaned out, making your leg acne worse. In addition, leaving sweat on your skin for long hours after working out only makes the bacteria further penetrate the skin. Sweaty workout clothes can also aggravate the problem, so it's essential to remove them as soon as you are done. Once you are finished with your workout, ensure to jump in the shower immediately, using a cleanser to clean out any debris that may clog the pores on your legs.

ii) Use Non-Comedogenic Lotion

If your pores are clogged easily, you'll want to consider removing thicker, comedogenic (pore-clogging) lotions out of your routine. Unfortunately, this also includes body oils that are also comedogenic (including the trendy coconut oil). Instead, search for lightweight lotions that specifically say they are non-comedogenic.

iii) Change Sheets Regularly

An additional way of how to get rid of acne on legs includes having a healthy bed routine. This includes changing your bed sheets regularly as they can harbor a lot of sweat, bacteria, dirt, and other debris that might be contributing to your leg acne.

iv) Monitor Shaving Habits

You can consider cutting down on how frequently you shave. In addition, invest in a good moisturizer with soothing ingredients such as aloe vera or shea butter and look at regularly exfoliating the leg area to unblock hair follicles.

It's also essential to ensure that you exfoliate properly and cleanse before shaving to prevent the formation of ingrown hairs.

Additionally, here are some more tips to consider:

  • Use a washcloth in a circular motion to raise embedded hairs
  • Use plenty of shaving cream
  • Always ensure to shave against hair growth
  • Lastly, invest in a sharp razor
  • You can also opt for laser hair removal as an alternative

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