Back Acne – How To Treat & Prevent Acne On The Back

Most people have had to deal with acne at one point in time; however each person’s case differs.  If you suffer from back acne than you probably already know what a serious pain it can be, literally!  Not only can it cause great discomfort by becoming itchy and irritated if left untreated, it can also create feelings of embarrassment and insecurity and can also be quite stressful.  Back acne is common however it is often harder to treat than facial acne.  This is due to the tough skin that our backs are made up of; it is more resistant to treatment.  This tough skin has thousands of sebaceous glands which produce a lot of oil and then cause pores to get clogged, attracting bacteria and causing a number of skin cells to die off.

Back acne is usually more widespread than facial acne and can even spread to the chest, arms, buttocks and shoulders in many cases.  It affects males and females of all ages and is often more severe in males.  Back acne is usually in the form of acne similar to that on the face or other parts of the body.  It can be anything from a pimple to a blackhead and can vary in size and shape.  In more severe cases back acne may form pustules or cysts.  These are very painful and form deep under the skin’s surface.

Causes of back acne

Back acne usually first occurs during puberty and if it’s not too severe will go away when the person reaches their mid twenties.  However some more severe cases can continue on well into a person’s forties.  Back acne is more likely to occur during puberty or for women when they are menstruating.  Sometimes back acne occurs due to a hormonal imbalance; however this is a rare occurrence.  Contrary to many beliefs back acne is not caused by things like stress, fatty foods, poor hygiene, genetics, or sweating, although most of these things can or do cause acne to worsen if you already suffer from it.

Back Acne Prevention

It is best to try and keep stress at a minimum, to maintain a healthy diet and shower after any physical activity that causes excessive sweating to occur.  Perspiration can get trapped against your skin and then mixing with oils it clogs the pores and hair follicles causing back acne to worsen.  Exfoliating on a weekly basis also helps and is safer to do on your back since the skin is so thick compared to the skin on our faces.  It helps get rid of all those nasty dead skin cells that can make back acne worse.  If you notice any bad reactions from exfoliating refrain from continuing exfoliation treatment and ask your dermatologist for other suggestions.

It is almost impossible to keep our backs free from being touched.  We always run the risk of something irritating the acne whether it be a shirt clinging to tightly to us, a type of detergent we use to wash our clothes, or a back pack that we carry.  However limiting what touches our back can help prevent further outbreaks from occurring.  A few things to remember are that when you have back acne the skin on your back becomes a lot more sensitive to different things.

You should always wash your back when showering to help keep the spreading of further bacteria at bay.  It is wise to only wash with a mild soap.  The best type you can use would be one for sensitive skin.  Many will say right on the bottle that they are for sensitive skin and/or dermatologist recommended.  Try to stay away from soaps with strong perfumes or scents as this usually causes irritation or allergic reactions.

Never wash your clothes with a strong detergent.  Like sensitive skin soap products there are also laundry detergents for people with skin problems.  A few other things that you want to try and stay clear of are taking really hot showers.  The heat from the hot water will irritate your back and cause the acne to become inflamed.  This can cause the spreading of further and more severe acne.  Don’t use things like loofas or scrub brushes on your back, it too will irritate the skin and make the acne worse.

If you use a wash cloth to bathe, wash your skin as lightly as possible.  When drying off with a towel after showering, be sure that you do not rub your back really hard with the towel.  It is better to just lightly pat your back dry, to prevent inflammation and irritation from occurring.  Avoiding tight clothing that will rub against the acne is also a good idea.  If you have a backpack that you need to carry for classes try to find one that fits loosely and will not rub against your back and shoulders or weigh your back and shoulders down too much.

Back Acne Treatment

Washing regularly can help treat back acne. However you want to make sure that you use one of the soaps mentioned above and that you do not excessively wash.  This can cause dryness and irritation to occur.

In most cases back acne is treated with the same types of medication as facial acne.  It is best to see a dermatologist so that they can diagnose you and find the proper treatment for you and your specific case of acne.  Back acne should never be left untreated as it will only get worse in most cases.  If left untreated it can even cause cysts or other types of damage to the skin.  Not only will seeing a dermatologist hopefully help prevent and treat your back acne, but it will also make you feel more confident.  Many times when a person has back acne it is a form of eczema and anyone who has had eczema knows that it itches a great deal and can be quite uncomfortable.  Seeing a dermatologist can help because they can give you medications or lotions to stop itching and irritation.

Back Acne Scars

Due to the severity of the condition, and people’s tenancy to let it go for too long without treatment, back acne often leaves scars behind. Back acne scars are similar to acne scars left on the face, but are often more severe. It is important not to confuse permanent scars with temporary hyperpigmentation (red marks). The red marks from acne will fade on their own with time, but scars are always permanent unless you get them treated.

Depending on the exact type of scar, there are a number of treatment options available for back acne scars. For ice pick, rolling, or boxcar back acne scars, dermabrasion or skin fillers can often produce good results. Keloid or hypertrophic scars, on the other hand, are more severe and will often require laser resurfacing or even a form of surgery to properly treat them.


Seeing a dermatologist is also a good idea because it helps minimize your chances of scarring.  Back acne is one of the types of acne that is more prone to scarring because it is itchy and gets irritated easily.  Never pick or squeeze your acne.  This will only cause further irritation and spreading of bacteria to occur.  In conclusion having back acne may seem like it’s the end of the world, but just try and remind yourself that its not!  There are all kinds of treatments and steps to prevention that one can take to make their situation better!  You are not alone in suffering with this skin problem!  Having flawless skin is rare, and 90% of people worldwide are affected with some sort of acne!  So take a deep breath and relax.  You are on the road to recovery.  It’s a step by step process but you can do it!

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