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How To Get Rid Of Back Acne – Causes, Treatments & Prevention

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Back acne is a common struggle for many people. The unsightly acne also called as ‘bacne’ can be quite challenging to get rid of. Not only back acne affects our self-confidence, but also poses a threat of permanent scarring if left untreated. Learning how to get rid of back pimples can be annoying and time-consuming but is not an impossible task.

What Is Back Acne?

Back acne is characterized by the appearance of pimples or cysts that appear on the upper or lower back. The back pimples or back acne may differ in severity and therefore are characterized differently. People who are prone to getting acne possess oil-producing glands that are sensitive to certain hormones.

The effect of hormones may cause back acne varying in severity. These may begin as a few spots to a large cluster of affected areas with pus-filed pimples. For instance, a severe case of Grade 4 acne may consist of several cysts or spots whereas mild case of Grade 1 acne may consist of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads.

The skin surrounding these pimples may feel itchy, hot or tender. Depending on the severity, they may heal on their own or might burst. If left untreated, they may develop into permanent scars.

Also Read: How To Find The Best Dermatologist For Acne Treatment?

What Causes Back Acne?

The reasons for back acne can be many but the most common reason is the production of excess sebum by the oil-glands which eventually causes bacteria to proliferate along with the dead skin cells. This combination leads to the development of blackheads and whiteheads resulting in pimples on back and shoulder. Here are the factors contributing to pimples on the back –

  • Hormones – Most of the back acne or cystic acne go hand in hand with hormonal flare ups which are common during puberty, menstruation and pregnancy. When hormone levels are imbalanced in the body, it kicks in excess oil production leading to unpleasant back acne. Men also experience back acne due to excessive testosterone levels.
  • Hygiene – If your hormones are balanced, then hygiene might be the cause behind back acne. If you experience regular yet modest acne in the form of blackheads and whiteheads, try to up your skincare game and prevent them.
  • Heredity – If your family members suffer from back acne, then the chances are that you are prone to getting them too.
  • Stress – Stress can trigger back acne indirectly by influencing the physiological functions of the body. The hormonal imbalance due to stress might be the cause of back acne.
  • Exercise – If you tend to notice back acne after a workout, then the sweat from the exercise is to blame. Make sure that you do not wear tight clothes while working out.
  • Medications – Certain medications can trigger back acne as a side-effect such as anti-depressants.
  • Poor diet – Poor diet lacking in vital minerals or vitamins can also be the underlying cause of back acne.

Also Read: What Would A Dermatologist Prescribe For Acne?

How To Get Rid Of Acne On The Back?

There are many options available to get rid of back acne faster. It is best to visit your dermatologist and seek advice on getting rid of back acne. The dermatologist will thoroughly examine and analyze the acne on the basis of its severity and help you with the relevant option to treat them better. Some of the options that help you dealing with back acne are –

  • Topical creams – Most treatments suggested by the dermatologist involve the use of topical creams to be applied directly to the skin. This is usually the first line of treatment. Many over-the-counter creams are easily available in the market that is effective in treating mild to moderate acne.

These topical creams or gels generally contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as the main ingredient that fights the bacteria inside the pimples and helps heal them faster. These creams should be applied directly to the affected area once or twice a day. The results can be seen within 4-8 weeks on regular application of the cream. This treatment works best with mild acne or just a few spots.

  • Oral medications – If the acne severity is more than usual with the presence of cysts and nodules, then oral medications are prescribed by the dermatologist for back acne treatment.

  Most common medications used to prevent back acne are –

  1. Antibiotics – These are usually prescribed alongside topical medications to kill bacteria and cure inflammation.
  2. Birth control pills – These are particularly effective against hormonal imbalance and reduce the amount of oil produced by oil glands. Birth control pills may interrupt with ovulation so it is not recommended for teenage girls.
  3. Isotretinoin – This is a powerful oral medicine used for severe back acne and it can benefit up to 2 years after the treatment. However, it has certain side effects such as depression, joint pain, dryness etc. and should strictly be taken upon prescription by the dermatologist.
  • Skin procedures – For larger cysts or extremely severe acne, advanced skin procedures may be used to get rid of them completely. These include laser or light therapy, drainage or extraction procedures etc.

Also Read: What Does Isotretinoin Do For Acne?

How To Treat Back Acne?

Many advanced skin procedures and therapies are available for effective and faster treatment of back acne. It is recommended to consult your dermatologist before you go for any such treatment option. The most popular option available for back acne treatment is the use of chemical peels. Apart from that, laser or light therapy is the secret weapon for treating back acne with no downtime.

  • Chemical Peels – Different types of peels are used as per the severity of back acne. The dermatologist will be the right person to suggest the right kind of peel required as effective back acne solution.
  • Glycolic Peel – Glycolic peel is not only effective in treating back acne but it also helps to remove uneven skin tone and induce skin repair.
  • Salicylic Acid Peel – Salicylic acid peel is used as a superficial peel to treat the first layer of the skin. It is usually suitable for all skin types. Salicylic acid peel is extremely effective in removing excess sebum and opening clogged pores. The peel also helps in regaining lost skin texture.
  • Pyruvic Peel – Pyruvic peel is a medium peel that penetrates the skin and removes acne from within. It also helps in promoting the growth of collagen and elastin fibers.
  • TCA Peel – The trichloroacetic acid peel or TCA peel works by drying out the first layer of the skin. The top layer with acne gets healed and peels on its own revealing clear skin from underneath.
  • Mandelic Peel – The mandelic acid peel is an alpha hydroxy acid peel which is considered the best remedy for back acne. There is no risk of hyperpigmentation post-treatment with this peel.
  • Lactic Acid Peel – Lactic acid peel is among the best back acne solutions for sensitive skin types. It not only removes the dead skin cells but also brightens the skin tone.
  • Laser treatment – Laser is the secret weapon in treating back acne much faster than any other method. Back acne generally responds slower to prescription medicines, unlike laser treatment. As laser works by killing the acne-causing bacteria, cleaning out the debris from the pores and also regulating the excess oil production on the skin. It helps to clear back acne more quickly and effectively treating the scars as well.

Also Read: Are Acne And Pimples The Same Thing?

How To Prevent Back Acne?

To help prevent the back acne from forming or coming back, the following tips should be followed –

  • Exfoliate – The back acne-causing bacteria cannot survive without oxygen so it is important to open up the clogged pores. Exfoliate in the shower with a gentle scrub containing salicylic acid to slough off dead cells and dirt.
  • Shower after exercise – Don’t let the dirt or sweat sit on the skin after a workout. Always make it a habit to take a shower after exercising.
  • Keep your hair up – Long, untied hair may add oil or dirt on the back causing acne breakouts. So tie them up in a ponytail especially during a workout session.
  • Change your sheets and pillowcases weekly – Pillowcases and sheets may be swarming up with bacteria so it is important to change them every week and keep back acne at a bay.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes – Wear loose-fit clothes made with cotton and sweat-wicking fabric while working out to prevent back acne.
  • Eat healthy – It is important to eat healthy and avoid acne breakouts especially if you are prone to getting them easily. Foods having high glycemic content such as refined flour, white pasta, sugar etc. can trigger acne and should be avoided. Eat loads of green veggies, whole grains and fruits instead.
  • Choose skin products accordingly – Avoid using harsh skin care products that may irritate the skin. Also, use oil-free skin care products that are non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. Use sunscreen to protect your back from the sun when you are outdoors.
  • Resist the temptation to pick back acne – Avoid popping acne on the back as it will only make the condition worse.

Also Read: What Is The Best Treatment For Comedonal Acne?

FAQ’s 

Is b’acne the same as the pimples on my face?

Bacne are back acne but they are different from pimples on your face in terms how they are formed. Bacne is caused by the clogged hair follicle due to the action of bacteria and dead cells. A pimple, on the other hand, is caused by excess sebum and bacteria along with dirt which clog the skin pores. These are red, inflamed and filled with pus.

Do scrubs help with back acne?

Scrubs definitely help with back acne by opening up the clogged pores and clearing them up. A scrub containing salicylic acid is especially helpful in killing the acne-causing bacteria inside the pore and sloughing off dead skin cells. It is important to remember that gentle scrubs should be used for back acne.

Why back acne Worse During the Summer?

Back acne becomes worse during summers due to the accumulation of sweat, dirt and dead skin cells. These provide an ideal ground for acne-causing bacteria to accumulate and cause bacne.

Does Lower Back Acne Create more Irritation than Upper back acne?

Lower back acne can be more irritating than upper back acne due to constant friction from clothes and accessories such as belts etc. The constant rubbing on the skin can irritate and inflame hair follicles combined with bouts of intense sweating and heat.

Can Stress Cause Back Acne?

Although there is no direct link of stress causing back acne, it can worsen the already present back acne. Stress can trigger excessive production of sebum (oil) from the sweat glands leading to back acne. The situation may become worse if you sweat profusely when anxious or stressed, triggering back acne due to clogged pores.

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About The Author

Kushneet Kukreja

Kushneet Kukreja

A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.


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