I am sure you often ask yourself “why do I have back acne?”, and often come up with silly answers from friends or articles that don’t quite make sense. So I took it upon myself to do some research and find out what causes these irritatingly painful pimples on one’s back.
Back acne or “Bacne” is so common these days but it is not as widely discussed online like acne/pimples on the face. Many people end up wearing clothes that don’t show off that much skin or don’t show their back at all because they get embarrassed.
In this article, I’ll talk about possible causes of Bacne, some methods to make the swelling go down, and how to reduce/eliminate new spots from coming back.
What is “bacne” and why do I have it?
What really causes it? Is it sweat, is it an allergy? What is it really? Read below on the different possible causes of back acne (or body acne for that matter). Remember, we all have different skin types so there can be so many reasons but in the end, it’s always good to see your dermatologist. Home remedies are ok but self-medicating can be dangerous.
1. Excessive Sweating
Yes, your theory on sweat causing back/body acne is mostly correct! Let me explain further. If you love working out or if you have a condition called hyperhidrosis (which means you sweat a bucket, and yes that is not really an understatement).
Sweating on your back or chest means that the area will attract lots of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes that form this red (sometimes pus-filled) inflamed spots on the face or skin.
Your sweat can stay on your sports bra or shirt and when you don’t change immediately this can cause bacteria build-up which causes acne. This can also happen if you wear backpacks. Make sure you change shirts often or that you have your bags washed.
If you’re on the pill and you suddenly stopped it because of mood swings (or because your doctor told you so) and you notice that you’re getting back/body acne, then you have to go back to your OB or to your dermatologist to fix this issue.
Some people are very sensitive to hormonal changes, especially women. So if you’re on your period or if you’re pregnant, this change can cause your back acne to appear. There are many things you can do to reduce or to get rid of acne but I’ll discuss it in a bit.
In relation to hormonal changes, puberty can cause back acne (or just acne in general). I made it separate from the post above because this is for teenagers who may experience a sudden increase in the acne on their faces or backs.
The hormonal changes caused by puberty can cause the sebum glands to overproduce oil which when mixed with sweat, is the perfect “home” for bacteria that causes acne. Not to mention the bad smell. That’s why a lot of teenagers entering puberty tend to start using antiperspirants or deodorants.
4. Oil-rich Food
Some people have very sensitive skin that reacts when they eat oily food. They notice that when they eat chocolate, nuts, or anything oil, they suddenly get lots of acne on their face. It is sad but you have to avoid this food when you notice that you get acne after consuming them.
Also, avoid natural oils like avoid cooking with coconut milk because it may not be oily but when heated produces natural oils that can still aggravate or trigger your acne. You have to find substitutes for your favorite (oily) food. There are lots of oil-free alternatives, you just have to a bit more research.
5. Trapped Oil
Trapped oil between your skin and a layer of dry skin can cause acne. This is quite normal if you are an active person and the skin also constantly peels and heals itself by gently shedding (thus the need to exfoliate).
6. Unwashed Bedsheets
If you notice that none of the above causes your acne, try to ask yourself, “when do I change my sheets?”. If the answer is every month then that’s not a good sign. I recommend that you change your sheets frequently. As it is, you should be changing it every 14 days.
If you already change it every 14 days, try to change it weekly. If you sweat during sleep or if you have sleep hyperhidrosis then this could be the culprit. Sweat that gets stuck on your sheets may be attracting bacteria that causes your acne.
Before we go to the next part which is how to get rid of back/body acne, watch online vlogger Asia Jackson as she explains what causes body acne.
How do I get rid of back acne?
Exfoliate by using a loofah or a plastic sponge from the grocery or even your local drugstore. This will get rid of dry skin that can trap oil in between the fresh layer of skin causing acne.
Please take note to not exfoliate every day as this can dry your skin. If you dislike holding on to a loofah or a plastic scrubber you can opt to buy exfoliating gloves that are so handy and very affordable. Make sure to wash your exfoliating tools after using them to prevent bacteria from staying on it.
2. Use soaps or prescribed skincare with salicylic acid
When you go to the dermatologist, he/she may ask you to buy products with salicylic acid or similar ingredients to gently remove the excess oil from your skin. Also, your doctor might ask you to change some hair care products you use.
Some hair care products clog your pores or could cause oil build-up (comedogenic) which can aggravate the acne. You can either wash your hair separately, not letting any of the products touch your body. If that gets too tiring or time-consuming, better change to non-comedogenic products for the meantime.
There are some pills that can help reduce and eliminate acne, first are antibiotics but recently there are many antibiotic-resistant infections so doctors usually opt for birth control pills. Yes, some may cause acne but other brands may actually help reduce or remove it.
Birth control pills are kind of a trial and error at first, but when you find the best brand you’ll have that “glow” without all the acne, believe me. The last resort for oral medication is Isotretinoin which is a medication that can last for up to 2 years after taking it. You take it for about 6 months continuously.
The downside is when taking Isotretinoin, it isn’t safe for pregnant women and has many side-effects. A friend of mine who took this medication had mood swings and very sensitive skin for a while. Usually, doctors try not to prescribe this medication unless absolutely necessary.
4. Topical creams
You may try the over the counter stuff recommended by the doctor. It’s usually ointment with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If this doesn’t work your doctor may also give you medicated soap or prescription topical medications like creams/ ointments.
5. Different skin procedures
For some severe cases where there is heavy scarring, some people opt for laser treatment or other light therapies to kill the bacteria and reduce the scarring on their back or any part where the acne is really bad.
Another option is excision, drainage or extraction. These procedures are minimally invasive and are done if the medication doesn’t work anymore. The doctor removes the cyst/acne by making a tiny cut or by punching a hole to remove the entire mass (if it’s not liquefied).
This is usually recommended last because it can cause scarring for some people. But if you have watched Dr.Pimple Popper a.k.a Sandra Lee, she always says that if you do it right the scars are barely there and are extremely hard to spot as you’d have to look really closely to find it.
Back acne can be embarrassing at first but always remember that with any problems, there are solutions or steps you can take to make sure the acne slowly goes away. I know it may take time but believe me, it will be better.
I also had back acne at some point but now it’s all gone, thanks to some of the tips I included above. If you have any questions about back/body acne, please don’t hesitate to ask me and I’ll make sure to send you well-researched answers.
Please remember that I am not a doctor and that although I can give you good advice, I still recommend you see your dermatologist especially if it is already causing pain or if you see that some of the acne becomes pus-filled.
Don’t forget to share this article with friends and family who want to learn more about back acne and how to avoid/ get rid of them. Click on the social media buttons below to share it on your different social media channels.
Ready to Make a Change Now?
My name is Oscar and I am the founder and director of Stop-Sweating-Now.com and have been researching and writing about hyperhidrosis for many years.
I have been sweating excessively for the better part of my life. I looked for solutions for well over a decade, but I never found anything that lasted.
It all started when I was around 14 years of age, when I suddenly found out that I was sweating more in my armpits than I should. At first I thought it was something that would go away soon, but I was wrong.
I had given up hope and accepted to live the rest of my life being embarrassed with ugly sweat stains in my armpits.
However, after a few years of not searching for any solutions anymore, I gave it another shot. And I found what finally gave me the freedom I had longed for so many years.
After finding a solution to my problem, I decided it was important to shout out my message to those that are suffering from what I had lived with so many years.
My goal is to help people find their freedom from sweating by sharing my expertise because hyperhidrosis is an underdiagnosed condition.
People don’t know that it is a medical term and can be treated effectively.
That is why I am here: Sharing with you what I know, what works and what does not work.
Want to learn more about what I did? Click below!