With the tank top season almost here, back acne can be challenging to deal with. Wondering how to get rid of those pimples on your back? Well you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out all you need to know about back acne, including its causes and treatments. What is back acne? As the name suggests, the appearance of acne on the back is termed as back acne. Similar to the face, back acne is caused when the pores get clogged by dead skin cells, sebum and/or bacteria resulting in the development of plugs which turn into acne. Back acne may also be caused due to the overgrowth of a certain type of yeast on the back as a result of heat and humidity. What does back acne look like? Back acne can be similar to the acne which appears on the face. Based on the type of acne and cause, it can have certain characteristic features. Mild to moderate back acne is characterised by having few blackheads and whiteheads or a combination of inflammatory acne and non-inflammatory acne. Severe back acne may include the presence of painful, inflamed pimples on the back. Causes of back acne
  • Weather- Living in hot, humid weather increases your chance of developing back acne.
  • Diet- Consuming foods with high glycaemic index such as white bread and potatoes can cause an increase in blood sugar level and trigger acne.
  • Age- Owing to more active sebaceous glands, teenagers are more susceptible to developing back acne as compared to adults.
  • Genetics- Acne has a tendency to run in families, so you’re more likely to have back acne if other members of your family have it too.
  • Lifestyle habits- Certain lifestyle habits such as workout, wearing tight clothing, wearing a heavy backpack etc. can make you prone to having back acne.
  • Stress- Stress causes an imbalance in hormones which leads to a surge in oil production. Increased oil production can cause acne.
Who is prone to developing back acne? Although anyone could develop back acne, certain factors make you more prone to having it. If you live in a humid climate and are prone to sweating a lot, you’re likely to have back acne. In general, younger people are also more prone to developing acne as compared to older adults. Hormonal imbalances caused by birth control pills, pregnancy or an increase in testosterone could also make you prone to back acne. Also, back acne is common in people who are active in sports and exercise as it involves a lot of sweating. What does back acne indicate? Back acne is usually caused by clogged pores and doesn’t typically have a serious underlying cause. Having back acne is an indicator that you need to ramp up your hygiene. Poor hygiene, not exfoliating, build-up of bacteria and sweat are few of the causes of back acne, hence it’s essential to keep the back clean and dry. Although not always, but often back acne can also indicate an imbalance in hormones. A surge in certain hormones may trigger acne. Having back acne is an indicator that it’s time you review your lifestyle habits and have better hygiene practices. Types of back acne As with acne on the face, there are various types of back acne such as-
  • Blackheads- Generally not painful, these occur as small bumps when the pores are clogged with oil, dead skin or dirt and interaction with air causes these bumps to appear dark in color.
  • Whiteheads- These are similar to blackheads but these occur below a layer of skin, hence are closed. These appear as small skin coloured bumps.
  • Papules- These are small and pus-filled bumps with a white tip.
  • Pustules– These are also pus filled, raised bumps on the skin but are larger than papules.
  • Nodules- Often painful, nodules are pus filled lumps under the skin.
  • Cysts- These are large pus-filled nodules which may be painful.
How to prevent back acne?
  • Keep your skin clean by regularly showering and washing the skin.
  • Use washes or cleansers with AHAs and BHAs to avoid build-up of dead skin cells and exfoliate gently.
  • Exfoliate regularly to prevent clogged pores and increase the cell turnover rate.
  • Always shower after a workout or any exercise to avoid the accumulation of sweat and bacteria on the skin.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight as they can create excessive friction.
  • Avoid sun exposure as it can damage the skin.
  • Wear clean clothes to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Always keep your sheets clean as you’re in contact with them for a considerable amount of time and they could have a build-up of dead skin and bacteria if not cleaned regularly.
  • Eat a balanced diet and avoid consuming food with higher glycaemic index and dairy.
Back acne treatment and medications
  • OTC-treatments- OTC-treatments like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and adapalene can help treat back acne by exfoliating the skin and freeing any trapped sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells. OTC-treatments can be effective in treating mild to moderate acne and are an easier at-home treatment for back acne.
  • Medication- Oral and topical medications such as birth control pills, antibiotics, isotretinoin and other forms of retinoid may be prescribed by a dermatologist to treat more stubborn back acne.
  • Laser- Laser is a cosmetic procedure which involves exposure to laser which can help eliminate bacteria and unclog the pores to effectively get rid of back acne. Laser is typically used for severe acne.
  • Chemical peels- Chemical Peels treat back acne by exfoliating the skin, removing a layer of dead skin cells and resurfacing newer skin cells.
  • Steroid injections- Steroid injections help treat acne by reducing inflammation. They’re used as a treatment for severe acne.
Conclusion Back acne, like any form of acne, can become severe and cause serious scarring if left untreated. It’s important to determine the cause of back acne and start treating it in time to prevent aggravation of the acne. In general, having good hygiene, keeping skin clean and dry and regularly exfoliating can prevent back acne. FAQs
  • What causes acne on back and shoulders?
Back acne is usually caused by clogging of the pores by sebum, bacteria or dead skin cells. Acne on the back and shoulders can be caused by various reasons such as tight clothing, improper cleaning of the skin leading to accumulation of sweat and bacteria, excessive sebum production amongst many more.
  • What is the most effective back acne removal treatment?
Back acne can be treated using OTC-treatments but to treat severe acne, more effective professional treatments like laser, chemical peels and oral medication may be required.
  • How to get rid of painful pimples on back?
The easiest way to get rid of painful pimples on back is showering regularly and exfoliating using AHAs or BHAs. Oral medication such as antibiotics and steroid injections may be required in treating inflamed, painful pimples on the back.
  • Is it effective to use Benzoyl Peroxide for back acne?
Benzoyl Peroxide can be useful in treating back acne as it works as a bactericidal against the acne causing bacteria. It prevents the growth of the bacteria and also has exfoliating properties.