- Back acne is a common skin condition resulting from buildup of dead skin cells, oil and bacteria on the skin.
- It can often be treated with natural remedies, lifestyle changes and over the counter products.
- More severe back acne can be treated with prescription medication.
Acne occurs when sebum, the oil naturally produced by your skin, becomes trapped inside a pore along with dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria. One of the most common places for acne to appear is the back. By changing a few habits and using over the counter products or prescription medication, you can get rid of back acne quickly and prevent it from recurring.
What Causes Back Acne?
Back acne, sometimes referred to as “bacne”, is a common type of body acne and has many of the same causes as facial acne including hormonal fluctuations during puberty or during the menstrual cycle. Diet, stress and genetics may also contribute to breakouts.
Other causes include not showering after working out, wearing tight, non-breathable clothing that traps sweat against the skin, oily hair touching your back and comedogenic or pore-clogging sunscreen.
6 Ways to Get Rid of Back Acne Naturally
Back acne can often be resolved by a few habit changes and all-natural acne treatments. The following remedies involve slight changes to your daily routine to eliminate potential causes of your back acne and dry up existing blemishes.
Use tea tree oil
Use tea tree oil by dampening a cotton pad with water and pouring a few drops of the extract on it. Swipe the cotton pad over the affected area or individual lesions. Repeat once or twice a day until your acne clears up.
Tea tree oil works well for back acne because unlike benzoyl peroxide, it does not stain clothing and can be applied both day and night.
Shower right after exercising
By showering immediately after exercise, you minimize the amount of time that sweat sits on your skin, working its way into your pores and causing breakouts. Take care to wash your back using a non-comedogenic, oil-free cleanser.
Avoid tight or irritating clothing
Tight clothing, especially in synthetic non-breathable fabrics such as polyester, can prevent sweat from evaporating from your skin. Opt for loose-fitting clothing in breathable fabrics for both your exercise wear and regular clothing to reduce back acne. Make sure that tight-fitting garments such as sports bras are made of breathable fabrics.
Keep hair off your back
Both your hair and the products you put in it may contain oils that block pores if they frequently touch your back. Wash long hair regularly and keep it in a bun or ponytail so it doesn’t transfer oils onto your skin.
Don’t let hair products touch your skin
Make sure that shampoo and conditioner are thoroughly rinsed from your skin before getting out of the shower or wash your hair in the sink to avoid those products coming into contact with your skin at all.
Eliminating the buildup of dead skin cells can rapidly improve your acne. Use a chemical exfoliant such as glycolic acid or a mechanical exfoliator such as a scrub brush on your back. Use caution if you have very inflamed acne to prevent causing further irritation.
Best Products for Back Acne
If you have chronic back acne that doesn’t respond to natural remedies, you can use over the counter products. These products often work more quickly than DIY remedies.
For back acne, you can use acne body washes formulated with active ingredients every day and spot treatments to apply to individual blemishes. Anti-acne body sprays are also available for easy application.
These products work by killing acne-causing bacteria or reducing sebum production to dry out existing blemishes and prevent new ones from occurring.
Benzoyl peroxide is available as a gel, cream or lotion and in concentrations ranging from 2-10%. It releases oxygen inside clogged pores to kill the bacteria that causes acne without causing bacterial resistance.
Use a soap or cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide in the shower. At night, apply a gel or cream containing a higher concentration directly to blemishes, keeping in mind that benzoyl peroxide can bleach clothing and bedding.
Salicylic acid works in several ways to clear up acne. As a beta-hydroxy acid, it’s lipophilic, meaning it dissolves in oil and can effectively break up clogs in pores that lead to blackheads and whiteheads. It reduces inflammation and sebum production to discourage more acne from developing.
Salicylic acid is available in many types of skin care products including cleansers, gels and creams.
Zinc can be either ingested orally or applied topically in a cream. It is an anti-inflammatory and can reduce sebum production. Although oral zinc is considered more effective than topical zinc, it is associated with side effects including nausea and vomiting, so a topical cream may be an overall better treatment.
Masks can supplement your daily skin care routine to combat acne. You can simply apply a rinse-off product you already use, such as a salicylic acid cleanser, to your skin and wait 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off, so the active ingredients have more time to penetrate your skin.
Best Prescription Options for Getting Rid of Back Acne
If your back acne does not respond to over the counter products, consult a doctor or dermatologist. He or she can prescribe a stronger medication to treat your acne.
Some common prescription options for acne are retinoic acid, isotretinoin and adapalene, all of which are retinoids that calm acne flareups and reduce inflammation. If you have severely inflamed, cystic acne you may also be given antibiotics.
If your acne is caused by hormones, it can be managed with combined oral contraceptives, a certain class of birth control pills. Another treatment for hormonal acne is spironolactone, an anti-androgen that causes reduced sebum production.
You can spot-treat individual blemishes by using serums or gels containing high concentrations of active ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Alternatively, hydrocolloid bandages (sometimes referred to as pimple stickers) can quickly dry out blemishes and reduce inflammation in a matter of hours.
How to Get Rid of Back Acne Scars
Acne can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, atrophic or pitted scars and hypertrophic or raised scars. The appropriate treatment method depends on what kind of scarring you have.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is treated with hydroquinone, a skin bleaching agent. Particularly dark patches of hyperpigmentation can be lightened with laser therapy and chemical peels.
Back acne is caused by changes in hormones, diet, stress and genetics. It can also be caused by wearing tight clothing that traps sweat against your skin or pore-clogging hair products that end up touching your back.
You can get rid of back acne naturally by showering immediately after exercise and wearing breathable, loose-fitting clothing. Tea tree oil is effective at reducing inflammation and drying out acne lesions.
If your back acne persists, over the counter topical treatments containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are effective at clearing up active acne and preventing further breakouts.
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