Planning a wedding in London. Is there anything I can do about back acne and bumps on my arms?

Dear Dr Irwin, I am almost 29, asian skin type IV, live in London. I'm getting married in a few months and I have a big problem with my arms and back. I used to have acne on my arms and back. Acne on my back ceased but i still have some small bumps on my arms. The brown marks from the acne is still on my back and arms although they have reduced significantly over the years. I need to have clear arms and back for my dress - is that possible?? I have tried isotretenoin 0.05% on my upper arms but no change. Thank you in advance.

My apologies for the delay on this one.   But ladies…….. please……..if you have a skin problem that needs to be fixed before your wedding, try to start 6-12 months ahead!!!

 But I’m a realist and you only have a couple of months so……. here are some things to consider.

  1. Are you sure this is acne both sites – acne is rare on the arms and fairly common on the back?   Did your dermatologist see these and did he/she think you might also have keratosis pilaris?   This is a common, inherited skin condition often found on the backs of the arms.   It’s treated differently than acne so it’s important to know.  See your doctor!!
  2.  Also, it sounds like the acne is fairly quiet on your back now but even if you get just 4-5 lesions a month, they will heal with a brown spot so please get the acne treated if you want to wear a backless wedding dress.  Use a 5% salicylic acne wash (a drugstore product) with a soft, long handled brush while you are waiting to see your dermatologist.  If you get irritated, stop the wash.
  3. Also at the drugstore, they often have a back medication applicator with a long handle so you can reach that area more easily to apply medication.
  4. If it really is just stubborn brown spots on your back that have been there for years, consider the Fraxel Dual laser (link here) but be sure to find a expert clinic to do this.

Hope this helps.  Dr. I


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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