Back Acne (‘Bacne’) 101: Types, Prevention, and Treatment


So what are the best treatments for back acne? Follow these tips.

1. Use an Over-the-Counter Treatment

For treatment of mild back acne, over-the-counter acne creams and gels containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, and sulfur can help get rid of blemishes and prevent new ones from popping up.

Of course, applying acne creams to your back will likely require assistance from someone. It might be easier to use a body wash with acne-fighting ingredients.

“Regular body washes aren’t strong enough to help with body acne,” says Yoram Harth, MD, a dermatologist and medical director of MDacne in San Francisco. “To have a real effect, you need a medicated body cleanser, preferably with ingredients like salicylic acid that can unclog your skin pores and kill acne bacteria.”

2. Regularly Wash Your Skin

For body acne treatment, choose body washes that say “noncomedogenic” or “oil-free” on the package to avoid clogging your pores.

Avoid antibacterial soaps, astringents, and abrasive scrubs that can make your acne worse. And be gentle when cleansing your skin. Harsh scrubs, loofas, and exfoliators can damage the protective layer of the skin and make body acne worse, says Dr. Harth.

3. Shower After Your Workout

Heat and humidity encourage bacterial growth, so shower immediately after a workout, suggests Harth. If you can’t shower immediately, use an oil-free cleansing wipe to remove as much sweat from your body as possible, and then change your clothes.

4. Don’t Squeeze or Pick Back Lesions

One bacne treatment that won’t work: picking or popping a pimple, which can worsen any occurrence of acne and damage your skin. “The skin on the body heals slower than the skin on the face, and frequent picking can lead to brown spots and scars,” says Harth.

5. Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can darken acne, triggering scars on your back and body. Always wear sunscreen and reapply as directed. This not only improves acne, it can help protect your skin from sun damage and skin cancer.

6. Wash Your Sheets 

Get into a habit of changing or washing your sheets once or twice a week, especially if you’re a back sleeper. This removes bacteria and dead skin cells from bedding, which can clog your pores and prolong back acne.

7. See a Board-Certified Dermatologist

If self-care measures don’t improve back acne, make an appointment with a dermatologist who is board-certified.

A skin specialist can evaluate your back, determine whether you have acne or another skin condition, and then prescribe a medication to control lesions, if necessary.

Treatment for back acne might include prescription creams, antibiotics, oral acne medication, or your doctor may suggest laser therapy, chemical peels, or steroid injections, depending on the severity of back acne.


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