Back acne, often referred to as ‘bacne’ not only forms on the back. More accurately it could be called body acne, since back acne is also found on the upper arms, lower back, buttocks and even legs. Like all acne, back acne can take on several forms – as blackheads, papules (pimples), and painful cysts and pustules which form deep in the layers of skin.

Back and body acne can occur at any time and can develop in teens when sebaceous glands overproduce sebum (oil) which can clog pores and hair follicles. This ultimately leads to acne breakouts and infestation. However, back acne, is not exclusive to teens, many adults (especially men) struggle with back and body acne.

Causes of Back and Body Acne

There are several reasons why back acne forms. The primary cause, however, tends to be from sweating, poor hygiene and lack of proper skincare.

Sweating while working out, playing sports, or working long hours in the heat, clogs pores, trapping oil and preventing dead skin cells from shedding. This leads to acne.

Poor hygiene and lack of proper skincare also contribute to back and body acne. Many people who are acne-prone, tend to focus on treating the face, and minimize the care and attention to the rest of the body.

Treating and Preventing Back Acne

Avoid tight-fitting, synthetic, clothing when working out. These prevent the movement of air around the skin and trap moisture, holding it close to the skin. Choose lightweight or cotton fabrics and loose-fitting designs. These allow the skin to breathe and help wick sweat away from the body.

Shower regularly, especially immediately following a workout or anytime you have been sweating. Never allow sweat and oils to dry on the skin – that’s a perfect recipe for a breakout. Shower immediately to wash away excess oils, sweat and dead skin cells. If you are prone to back and body acne, or even wish to prevent it, use an exfoliating wash, brush or sponge to ensure proper cleansing.

Select products designed for treating body acne. Use a pH balancing body wash, salicylic acid/benzoyl peroxide cleanser or a sulfur-based cleanser to remove excess oils, debris and bacteria from the skin surface. Products like Neutrogena’s Body Wash, Scrub and Spray designed to help clear and control back and body acne. Whatever brand you select, use a formula that contains Salicylic Acne, a proven acne-fighting ingredient to  help  prevent breakouts on the back, chest and shoulders without over-drying or irritating your skin. For hard-to-reach spots, try an acne body spray, like the one from Neutrogena. It’s quick-drying formula easily delivers acne medication to the source of breakouts with a breakthrough 360-degree pump that sprays from any angle—even upside down.

Exfoliate the skin on your back regularly. Use a back brush, loofah or exfoliating product to do the job. The key is to make sure that you encourage the removal of dead skin cells to keep pores clear. The pores on the back are much larger and, therefore, more prone to blockage. Exfoliate two to three times a week. Avoid over-scrubbing. This damages and dries the skin which will stimulate oil production and encourage another breakout.

Use clean linens, bath towels and tees. Keeping up with the laundry is important. Soiled sheets, pillowcases, towels and tees collect sweat, dead skin cells and breed bacteria. Change bed linens twice a week if you can, once a week at least to keep skin clear. Do not re-use bath towels and face cloths. Damp towels breed bacteria. Use a clean tee or shirt every day to prevent the spread of bacteria on the back and body.

Use topical treatments on pimples and pustules. Since the skin on the back and body is thicker than the face on the skin, a stronger topical cream or gel might be required. Look for preparations containing sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, alpha-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid or tea tree oil. Dab the cream or gel on pimples at night (allow solution to dry before contact with clothing or linens).

  • Sulfur (penetrates pores, dries and clears pimples and blackheads)
  • Alpha-hydroxy acid (dries up blemishes)
  • Benzoyl peroxide (unclogs pores)
  • Salicylic acid (dries up blemishes)
  • Tea tree oil (kills bacteria)

Choose products carefully. Daily products like shampoo, conditioner, sprays and styling products contain myriad of comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients that can cause breakouts. Look for non-comedogenic skincare and beauty products to help keep pores clear and prevent acne.

Learn more about Treating Back Acne here.