Some or most of us may have a frustrating experience with having back acne or "bacne" for short. We can't seem to wear backless clothes that we're dreaming of because of those annoying zits and we may want to hide them so that other people won't comment or start to give unsolicited advice on our back acne.
Well, let me tell you that you can still embrace a strappy top or dress while having back acne.
Personally I’ve found that bacne is much more embarrassing than the pimples on my face. Something about the fact that bacne can be more easily covered up, until the day you want to wear a bathing suit or homecoming or prom so to me it seems more like a surprise to others. I’ve had the days where I made sure my hair covered my back, I scratched my itchy back and then all of a sudden I’m bleeding on my back.
What Is Back Acne?
The name "back acne" already speaks for itself - it's a type of acne that's located at our back or most other people's back and it's almost similar to any acne types in a sense that this acne is caused by clogged pores and bacteria that is built up in our body.
Back acne is characterized by oily skin, blackheads, red spots, yellow-pus filled pimples and scars. Back acne may leave us feeling insecure about our physical aspects and get emotionally burnt out.
Back acne affects more than half of people with acne and it can be particularly troublesome and embarrassing. Some people struggle with back acne and chest acne just as how they struggle with facial acne itself.
According to Kara Shah, a board certified general and pediatric dermatologist in Kenwood Dermatology in Cincinnati, “bacne” is a result of the build up of dead skin cells and oil within the skin’s pores that's combined with an overgrowth of common skin bacteria called "Cutibacterium acne" which is the one responsible for triggering an inflammatory response.
She adds that "acne on the back and shoulders is commonly associated with sports activities causing increased sweating and friction from athletic gear and clothing."
Causes of Back Acne:
Certain foods can also worsen or aggravate your back acne such as certain carbohydrates like white bread and potato chips as these are known to increase your blood sugar levels. Even dairy products can also be a contributing factor in having back acne.
TREATING BACK ACNE
Like any other acne types, back acne also has various treatment options ranging from home remedies to self-care habits as well as medications. We also have some tips on how to manage that back acne:
Home remedies for back acne:
- Tea tree oil - diluted
- Exfoliators and scrubs
- Low glycemic/anti-inflammatory foods
- Reduce dairy intake
- Stress Management Techniques
- Zinc-rich foods
- Aloe Vera
- Epsom salt
- Vitamin D
How to treat and prevent back acne
- Shower after a workout
- Wear loose or cotton fabrics
- Use the right cleanser for your body
- Keep your hair off your back
- Change your diet
- Apply sunscreen (or avoid too much sun exposure) on your back
- Change sheets and pillowcases weekly
- Eliminate pressure on the back from backpacks, or bags.
- Eat skin friendly foods
- Consider Medication
Shower after a workout
to prevent build up of oils, sweat, and dirt from clogging your pores
Exfoliate your back with either a physical exfoliate like a mitt, brush, or scrub. The skin on your back is thicker and able to handle physical exfoliators compared to skin on your face which is more delicate
Wear loose clothing with breathable fabrics
Loose or breathable fabrics help to keep moisture off your skin to prevent back acne.
Use the right cleanser
You may be getting back acne due to an allergy to the cleanser you are using to wash your body with. If you are uncertain, try changing your body wash to something without fragrance or go for a sulfate free one and see if it makes a difference. You may also find a body cleanser that contains BHA salicylic acid that can help with back acne.
Keep your hair off your back
The extra hair product or oils that you use may be rubbing off and irritating the skin on your back or clogging the pores which can lead to more back acne.
Change your diet
For some people acne has to due with what is going on internally, so you may want to consider monitoring your diet to cut out any food intolerances you may have and to heal your digestive system. Common culprits are diary, but it could be any food so keep in mind how you feel after eating certain food types.
Sunscreen is an important step in skincare, but we may be neglecting the skincare on our bodies. If some body sunscreens are too heavy for you, you may consider using the sunscreen that's formulated for your face on your back too. You can also avoid too much sun exposure on your back, as sun damage can lead to hyperpigmentation and inflammation in skin.
Change sheets and pillowcase weekly
Sounds simple, but the oils from our hair and bodies as well as product that we use can build up on our bed sheets and pillows leading to more back acne.
Eliminate Pressure On Back
pressure on the back such as having to wear a backpack for a long period can irritate skin on the back causing back acne. If possible, try to eliminate pressure on the back for long periods.
Eat Skin Friendly Foods
Skin friendly foods are any foods that don't cause you digestive issues and are low on the glycemic index scale.
Aim for plenty of vegetables, lentils, some fruits, and complex carbs instead of refined carbs.
if your back acne isn't showing any signs of improvement after 1-2 months of trying the above steps, you may want to consider seeing a dermatologist who can prescribe you stronger medications to get rid of the back acne depending on the cause. Some back acne may be due to fungal causes instead which would require a different treatment versus regular back acne.
I started having bacne young and I had kids pointing it out and telling me I “had something on my back.” In my years I’ve learned that these tips can really help with stopping back acne in its tracks.
Back acne may be tricky to manage and treat just like any other acne but with a proper skin care routine as well as patience, back acne can be successfully managed