Ah, the feeling of wearing tank tops in the summer and feeling the sun on your skin is a welcomed experience for most, but not for those who experience back acne, or “bacne”. Like acne on your face, acne on your back or anywhere on your body can be debilitating and downright embarrassing.
You often feel isolated, welcoming the colder months for its long sleeves and layers over the summer so you can cover up what you have going on. But you’re not alone, acne affects anywhere from 40 to 50 million at any given time. We get into what’s causing that pesky back acne, and how to get rid of back acne.
What Causes Acne on the Back?
To be able to treat it, we need to know what it is first. Acne is most commonly known to occur on your face, but it can actually form anywhere on the body where there are sebaceous glands and hair follicles. Your back has a large quantity of these pores. If you have an oily skin type, your sebaceous glands will be more likely to secrete excess oil that may interact with bacteria and dead skin cells which clog up your pores, and thus creates acne. This process triggers inflammation and produces white heads, black heads, pustules and papules and even cysts.
Genetics: If your parents suffer from acne on their back, you’re more likely to also experience bacne (thank mom and dad).
Hormones: Similar to acne on the face, back acne can flare up commonly during puberty, menstruation and pregnancy. Back acne is common during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy. Hormonal in-balance affect both men and women and works its way from the bloodstream towards the skin to be purged from the body.
Exercise: Working out and sports may be triggering your back acne. That excess sweat and moisture mixing with dead skin cells and excess oil is a sure way to clog pores and result in acne.
Lifestyle choices: Like acne on your face, there are many triggers to breakouts – the same goes for back acne. Things like your diet for example: are you having dairy when you shouldn’t be? If you’re not getting regular sleep or if you’re under a lot of stress at work can all be triggers for flare ups.
How Do You Get Rid of Bacne?
1 – Exfoliate
Acne causing bacteria that is responsible for triggering breakouts cannot live in the presence of oxygen, meaning, we need to open up those clogged pores! But before you reach for that loofah, think again. Loofahs and sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria so ditch these harsh and abrasive tools.
Instead, use an exfoliator, like the kind you would use on your face can help to exfoliate the skin a little deeper. Look for an exfoliator with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide help to unclog pores, remove dead skin cells, and reduce inflammation. There are different types of body wash available with these ingredients in them to help clear your body acne that you can get at your local pharmacy or drugstore.
2 – Do your laundry more often
Make sure to change your clothes right after a sweat sesh and at the end of every day to avoid build up on your clothes can combine with the pores on your back. Also, wash our sheets, pillow cases, and blankets regularly.
3 – Tie your hair up
If you have long hair that you wear down very often, this may be contributing to the build up of dirt and oil on your back, neck and shoulders. Try to get your hair off your back by wearing it up as often as you can, especially during exercise. Also, make sure to read the label of your hair products. Try to use shampoo and conditioners that are non-comedogenic and not contributing to clogged pores.
4 – Keep a consistent routine
Whether you’re experiencing acne on your face or back acne, practicing good skin care habits will really help you to maintain your skin and keep breakouts manageable. Cleanse twice a day with gentle and effective products with active acne-fighting ingredients to reduce inflammation and help reduce breakouts in the future.
5 – Shower immediately after working out
Sweat, heat, and friction from tight work out gear can wreak havoc on your skin. Try to get work out gear with breathable fabrics specifically made for exercising. Shower immediately after working out when possible. The longer the sweat and bacteria sit on your back, the more likely you are to get a breakout. Make sure to always bring a change of clothes, so you don’t risk having to put on your old sweaty shirt, undoing the cleansing you did in the shower.
6 – Check your laundry detergent and shower products
Laundry detergent is one of the most overlooked culprits of bacne. The fragrances found in a product can really irritate skin and cause inflammation and trigger acne. We all know fragrance in your face products is a huge “no”, the same goes for your detergent. Similarly with any shower product that runs down your face and back, so check your shampoos and all body soap for irritants. Trial using zero products for a month, and if it clears up, then you may have to re-introduce 1 product at a time to figure out which one is flaring up your skin.
7 – Take the load off
If you’re someone that wears a backpack, or heavy gear usually like sports or music equipment, the pressure on your shoulders and back can be what’s contributing to your bacne. The friction, sweat, and heat from the pressure can result in acne. This specific type of acne is called acne mechanica and can be treated with topical acne treatment, or may go away itself with a proper hygiene routine.
8 – Avoid oil-based products where possible
It’s important to understand the labels of the products you intend on using on your skin and back. Avoid oil-based products, fragrance, and alcohol. Look for labels that say “noncomedogenic”, meaning it won’t clog your skin.
9 – Consult a doctor
If you’ve done all of the above and your self-care measures just aren’t cutting it, it may be time to consult a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist will be able to assess your situation and determine whether you do have acne or another skin condition. After diagnosing you, the doctor will be able to prescribe medication and different types of treatment where necessary. Treatment may vary from prescription topical creams, oral acne medication, laser therapy, steroid injections, or chemical peels, depending on the severity of your back acne.
Does Bacne Ever Go Away?
While there is no absolute cure to get rid of acne. It can be treated with a consistent routine, good habits, and acne treatment. Just remember to keep a balanced lifestyle to supplement your routine by keeping a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and manage stress. Remember that you’re not alone and treating your acne is a journey, not a sprint.