When we think of acne breakouts, we typically think of blemishes on the face. Acne, however, can appear anywhere on your body, including your back. Back acne is so common that it’s often called ‘bacne.’
Similar to acne on your face, back acne can be uncomfortable and frustrating. It also can cause people to feel self-conscious, especially if you wear bathing suits, tank tops, spaghetti-strap dresses, or workout clothes that show part of your back and shoulders.
Fortunately, back acne is treatable and preventable.
Leading Causes of Back Acne
There are many potential causes of back acne, including genetics, hormones, and lifestyle factors. It can be hard to identify one reason, and your back acne may be due to multiple factors.
Breakouts on your back can involve any type of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, and more. Like your face, your upper back contains many sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum (an oily substance).
Sebum helps lubricate and protect your skin. That said, too much sebum leaves the follicles vulnerable to being plugged with dead skin cells and the excess oil. The pores on your back are also more susceptible to becoming blocked because this skin is thick.
Common causes that contribute to back acne include:
- Hormones: Teenagers’ changing hormone levels is one reason they’re prone to breakouts. That said, adults can get hormonal acne as well. Hormonal acne often occurs during periods of hormonal changes, such as puberty, pregnancy, or a woman’s menstrual cycle.
- Genetics: You may be more likely to develop acne if it runs in your family. Also, genetics helps determine your pores’ size, which may make you more vulnerable to breakouts.
- Sweat: The longer sweat remains on your skin, the greater the chance it can lead to acne due to potentially clogging your pores.
- Hair products and sunscreens: The oils and substances in hair, body, and sunscreen products can contribute to your breakouts. For instance, your hair conditioner likely contains oils to soften your hair. These ingredients, however, can clog your pores when it runs down your back.
- Foods you eat: Some foods may contribute to breakouts in certain individuals, although the mechanism isn’t always well understood. If you struggle with breakouts despite following acne treatments, you may want to examine the type of foods you eat, especially foods high in sugar, whey protein, cow’s milk, chocolate, and foods high in grease.
- Nutritional deficiencies: It can be hard to eat a well-balanced diet all the time. Vitamin deficiencies have been linked to acne, especially in vitamin E, vitamin A, and zinc.
7 Ways to Treat and Prevent Back Acne
Identifying what may be causing your back acne can help you determine the best ways to treat your breakouts and prevent future ones. Fortunately, small changes in your lifestyle can often significantly impact your acne and help you avoid future breakouts. These seven strategies can help you treat and prevent back acne.
1. Avoid tight-fitting clothes, purse straps, and backpacks that can cause friction on your skin
Tight-fighting clothing, purse straps, or backpacks can rub against your skin. This irritation can cause back acne to flare. If you’re prone to back acne or are currently experiencing it, try to select clothing that doesn’t rub against you and switch to holding backpacks or purses until your skin has recovered.
When your back is acne-free, try wearing backpacks and clothing a little looser than usual, especially in the warm months when you’re more likely to sweat.
2. Keep your skin dry and clean of sweat and moisture as soon as possible
If you sweat during the day or a workout, you’ll want to change clothes and shower as soon as possible. If you let the sweat sit on your skin after a workout, it increases your risk of a breakout. The oils and sweat generated while exercising can become trapped in your pore and create a blockage.
If you’re unable to shower after exercising, use an oil-free cleansing wipe to clean areas that are prone to breakouts, such as your face, neck, and back.
3. Wash your workout clothes after every use
When you exercise frequently, it can be tempting to skip washing your favorite sports bra or workout shirt if they don’t smell. However, washing your workout clothes after every can reduce your risk of back acne.
Additionally, look for workout clothes with moisture-wicking properties, made of cotton, or fit loosely to allow airflow and reduce friction.
4. Clean your skin gently
It’s tempting to scrub your back hard, especially since that skin is thicker than some other areas of your body. However, this additional friction can irritate your skin and leave you vulnerable to breakouts. You especially want to avoid scrubbing hard when you have acne on your back as you can cause further irritation. This irritation can cause your acne to take longer to heal.
If you’re currently experiencing back acne, use gentle cleaners designed for acne. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends letting the cleanser sit on your skin for a couple of minutes to help the medicine better treat the back’s thick skin. However, keep the instructions on the cleanser in mind as well.
If you want a gentle cleanser that uses natural ingredients, Innate Skin’s Clear Skin AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser works well for the face, neck, or can be used on your upper back. It can help unclog pores and treat blackheads and whiteheads.
5. Use non-comedogenic hair and skin products
To avoid your hair conditioner or sunscreen contributing to breakouts, try to buy products that are labeled as non-comedogenic and safe for acne-prone skin. These types of products are free of substances that clog pores. Additionally, be sure to rinse your hair and back well after using conditioners.
6. Watch what you eat
If you struggle with breakouts, you may want to investigate whether the foods you eat are contributing to your acne. Research suggests that individuals prone to acne may benefit from eating a low-glycemic diet. Low-glycemic foods don’t raise your blood sugars quickly. As a result, your body doesn’t experience high blood sugar spikes that can cause inflammation and increase sebum production, as high-glycemic foods may do. Also be aware that many foods can trigger acne in some people.
7. Supplement with acne vitamins
If you struggle to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs consistently, there are vitamin supplements designed to provide the nutrients needed for healthy skin. If you think a vitamin deficiency may be contributing to your back acne, Innate Skin’s Clear Skin Vitamin Pack is specially designed to provide the combination of necessary nutrients to help heal and prevent acne.
You Can Treat and Prevent Your Back Acne
While acne on your back is frustrating, you can treat back acne and prevent future breakouts. The more you understand what may be contributing to your back acne, the better you’ll be able to target the problem and prevent future breakouts.
The Clear Skin Vitamin Pack has helped many people with back acne to clear up their skin. Whether you have painful cystic acne on your back (which is the worst!) or a milder form, it is definitely worth giving the 60 Day Pack a try because chances are it will be the solution you have been looking for.