Back Acne: Causes And Treatments

womans back
Photo by Patrick Malleret on Unsplash

Back acne can be particularly irritating considering the number of surfaces your back is in contact with during the day; beds, chairs, bags and clothing to name a few. If you’re prone to getting back acne and are looking for a resolution, look no further. We’ve summed up the causes for back acne and put together several treatments to get rid of it. But firstly, why does it form?

What are the causes of back acne?

Back acne is no different to acne forming anywhere else on the body and face. Acne forms as a result of clogged pores from excess sebum and dead skin cell build up. The natural inflammatory response is triggered to deal with this blockage, which results in the characteristic swelling and bumps associated with pimples.

While the odd pimple is very normal, recurring breakouts result in the condition known as acne, of which there are mild, moderate and severe categories. Below are some of the most common causes of back acne;

  • Improper cleansing. Not cleansing properly can lead to acne as the dead skin cells and oils accumulate to clog pores. This is especially the case with the back area; most find it difficult to reach certain areas in the shower.
  • Genetics. Genetics can largely dictate how prone you are to getting acne. Overactive sebaceous glands can be inherited which results in oily skin, and therefore acne.
  • Diet. An improper diet can indirectly lead to acne. Examples of foods that can lead to acne include dairy, refined sugars and fast foods which are high in fat.
  • Hormones. Hormones are a significant contributory factor in the development of acne. During puberty and the teenage years acne is most likely to form. For women, acne may be brought about during the menstrual cycle. Medications that alter hormone levels whether indirectly or directly can also cause acne.
  • Stress. High stress levels can indirectly lead to acne. Stress often leads to poor sleep quality and hormone fluctuations; both of these can affect skin quality and lead to acne.

Treatments: How to get rid of back acne

bathtub, cleansing for back acne
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Often you can remedy back acne through at-home treatments and by making some simple changes in your habits. Here are a few treatments for back acne:

1. Wear clean clothing

This is especially important during summer months or for those who live in warmer climates. Your t-shirt absorbs sweat during the day and the dead skin cells rub off onto the clothing. By not changing your clothing, you’re letting these contaminants rub on your back which can clog pores and result in pimple formation. Change your tops and undergarments often, daily if you’re particularly prone to sweating.

2. Stay away from tight clothing

Tight clothing during a workout can exacerbate back acne. Tight clothing can lead to chaffing around the back areas, this not only rubs dirt and sweat around these areas but it can also lead to heat rash.

3. Cleanse your back thoroughly

Ensure you’re cleansing your back thoroughly, you’d be surprised at the number of people that skip out on this part. Consider purchasing a shower brush or loofah which can make it easier to reach those difficult areas.

Using a loofah or brush is also a form of exfoliation which is essential to keep skin clear and healthy. By exfoliating the skin you’re effectively sloughing off the outermost layer of dead skin cells, this can reduce the probability of breakouts forming.

4. Use non-comedogenic moisturisers and sun lotions

Using thick, oil-based lotions and moisturisers can lead to back acne. These lotions can directly clog your pores which can cause breakouts. If you’re prone to back acne, stay away from these creams and instead purchase lighter, gel or water-based formulations which are non-comedogenic. You can check out which ingredients are likely to clog pores on a comedogenic scale.

5. Change your sheets regularly

Ensure you change your bed sheets often, particularly important if you sleep without a top at night. While you sleep your skin cells shed and the sweat and oils which are naturally produced at night rub off onto the sheets. By not changing your sheets you’re effectively rubbing around in these contaminants which can cause both back and facial acne.

6. Make some diet changes

As your diet can directly impact acne formation, it’s important that you stay away from certain foods. Try and stay away from foods with a high glycemic index, examples of such foods include white bread, potatoes and white sugar. You should also limit fast food consumption, as well as dairy; both of these food items are linked with increased breakout formation.

Not only should you limit certain food consumption, you should also increase intake of healthy foods such as fruits, lean proteins and vegetables.

To sum it up

Back acne is a condition with various causes and treatments, many at-home remedies are available to treat the condition. If none of these treatments work for you, or your back acne is particularly severe it’s best to visit a dermatologist who can prescribe medications and advice on how to best proceed.

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