Back Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Woman with back acne getting treatment

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions among people of all skin types. It can result in whiteheads, blackheads, and pus-filled spots.  It is a common phenomenon during the teenage years, thereafter resolving itself in the early 20s.

It, however, tends to persist in some people into late 20s and 30s. Here, find out what back acne is, what causes it, and how it can be treated.

What is Back Acne?

Also referred to as bacne, back acne is more common than you might think. Just like your face or chest, your back also has hair follicles and sebaceous glands that secrete sebum. Sebum is a waxy substance that helps in keeping your skin moisturized.

Once this waxy substance comes into contact with dead skin cells and bacteria, your pores can get clogged, leading to pimples on your back. It has the same characteristics as facial breakouts, including blackheads, pimples, whiteheads, oily skin, scarring, and red spots.

What Causes Bacne?

A rise in hormones in the blood can cause excess production of oil, leading to breakouts. Several causes are to blame for the formation of breakouts on your back. Many times, it is triggered by the production of high amounts of sebum and dead skin cells.

When these are produced in high amounts, the follicles are blocked. Everyone has P. acnes bacteria living in their skin. This bacterium is linked to the result of acne. However, these bacteria do not normally cause any problems unless a buildup of oil occurs.

Once there is a buildup, if your skin is acne prone, the perfect environment for bacteria growth is created. This then leads to inflammation and the formation of pimples.  The other trigger is poor lifestyle habits, including labor-intensive work and workout.

If you sweat too much and don’t shower immediately, breakouts are likely to occur. The American Academy of Dermatologists now shows some link between diet and acne. Certain foods could raise blood sugar levels, which is a common acne trigger. Other causes include:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis: This is an inflammatory condition characterized by erythema and scaling
  • Dandruff: Presents itself in abnormal shedding of the skin
  • Laser treatment: As a result of the heat emitted during laser therapy, folliculitis occurs
  • PCOD: Polycystic ovarian disease may lead to Truncal acne
  • Shaving and waxing: These can cause folliculitis
  • Heat or friction: Occlusion, friction, and heat can lead to acne
Flowers beneficial for the skin in a pounder bowl

Bacne Treatment

The cause of acne determines the form of treatment. It is recommended that you begin with the same skincare routine you would for your face. If you work out or sweat too much, ensure that your clothes are loose and be sure to shower immediately after your exercise. Several treatments can be effective, including:

1. Topical Creams

Topical medications tend to be highly effective in mild breakouts. If you have just a few pimples, over the counter medications can help in combating them. Be sure to clean your skin thoroughly using ingredients containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide at least twice a day.

Apply it on the affected area not just on the spots. This is a sure way of getting rid of dead skin cells that could be blocking the pores. You will notice a change in about 4-8 weeks. You might also want to check out this page for other creams beneficial to your skin.

2. Pills

If you have severe acne, including nodules and cysts, your doctor may recommend oral medication. Some of them may include:

  • Contraceptives: Medications that control hormones such as birth control pills can reduce the production of oil on the skin.  For girls in their teenage years, these may not be recommended due to a possible interruption of ovulation.
  • Antibiotics: These kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. You may need to take them for about 2-6 months to experience changes.
  • Isotretinoin: This is a strong medication that can present certain side effects. For instance, because it has the potential to harm unborn babies, it is not recommended for pregnant women. Blood tests may be required before your doctor prescribes it, and they may need to monitor you after prescribing it.
  • Procedural Intervention: Several procedures such as laser can reduce the level of p. acnes. Sometimes, chemical peels are given to treat papules and blackheads. For large cysts, drainage and extraction may be used when they fail to respond to medication.

Home Remedies

Use the following home remedies to clear bacne:

  • Baking soda: This is a great exfoliate and can neutralize the pH parity of the skin.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Neutralizes the pH of the skin and contains antibacterial properties.
  • Honey: Contains medicinal properties. Mix it with oats to cleanse the pores and soothe your back.
  • Aloe Vera: Contains multifarious benefits, including anti-fungal and astringent benefits.
  • Lemon juice: Contains citric acid, which is excellent at cleansing the pores.

Bacne Prevention

The factors that predispose you to acne on your back, including genetics and hormonal fluctuations are beyond your control, which means you cannot always control it.

However, there are certain habits you can practice to reduce your chances of developing it in the future. They could include:

  • Avoid certain medications: Lithium and androgens, for example, can heighten your chances of developing acne.
  • Keep off pressure on your back: If you carry objects that put too much pressure on your back such as sports equipment, avoid it. Prolonged pressure on the back can lead to acne mechanica.
  • Limit the use of Oil-based skin care products: Sunscreens, moisturizers, and oily products can lead to flare-ups on your back.

If you are always in tight clothes or wear them occasionally but over prolonged periods, you may be at risk of flare-ups. Such clothes tend to trap sweat and block pores, which could then lead to breakouts.

As soon as you notice the appearance of pimples, begin to use anti-acne creams such as benzoyl peroxide and retinol. Before the treatment, moisturize your skin.

While it is completely normal to experience acne on your back and other parts of the body, it can lead to more discomfort and embarrassment, especially due to lack of information.

If you try home remedies and over the counter medications unsuccessfully, it might be time to check with a dermatologist.

Young woman doing skincare, peeling off pore strip from her nose

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