What You Need to Know About Back Acne

Unfortunately, acne can appear in other areas besides your skin. Dealing with acne on your face can be annoying, but back acne – often referred to as “bacne” – can be more frustrating. You may find yourself self-conscious to wear strapless shirts and tank tops during the summer due to embarrassing breakouts. But with a few simple modifications to your skincare routine, those pesky pimples will be a thing of the past.

What Causes Back Acne?

Medical experts estimate that facial acne affects 92% of people while back acne affects 60%. Acne can affect any part of your body with oil-secreting glands or hair follicles including your chest, neck, and shoulders. While back acne often affects people with an active lifestyle, many can still suffer from this condition.

Your back contains many sebaceous glands that secrete an oily substance called sebum. Like dead skin cells and bacteria, sebum builds up within the hair follicles on your back and clogs them. Clogged follicles eventually break down, causing acne lesions to appear. Back acne also results from poor hygiene habits and failing to wash clothing and sporting equipment. Severe cystic acne on the torso is generally more common in males and tends to scar.

Types of Back Acne

Like facial acne, several types of acne lesions can occur on your back such as:

  • Whiteheads: Whiteheads develop from clogged follicles beneath your skin, forming a white bump.
  • Blackheads: When a plugged follicle on your skin’s surface opens, it forms a blackhead. The black appearance results from a chemical reaction between sebum and air.
  • Papules: These tender acne lesions appear on your skin as small pink bumps.
  • Pustules: Commonly referred to as “pimples,” pustules contain white or yellow fluid while surrounded by reddened skin.
  • Nodules: When an acne lesion develops deep beneath your skin’s surface, it hardens and forms a large, painful nodule.
  • Cysts: These larger, pus-filled acne lesions can be extremely painful and even scar your skin.

What Causes Back Acne?

Hormones can be a huge factor in causing acne. Hormones such as estrogen and testosterone cause sebaceous glands to secrete sebum. The follicles may be unable to handle the excess sebum, thereby causing them to clog. Women may also experience breakouts because of hormonal changes in their menstrual cycle. Acne can result from heredity factors. You’re at greater risk if one or both of your parents suffered from severe acne.

Finally, you need to consider environmental and situational factors. For instance, acne occurs on areas of your body where the skin is more susceptible to heat, pressure, and friction. If you take part in sports, you may suffer from acne mechanica along your hairline from wearing a helmet. Furthermore, tight uniforms create the perfect conditions for clogged pores and breakouts.

Keep in mind that athletes aren’t the only ones prone to this condition. Musicians can develop acne around the chin from holding their instruments beneath their chins. Students carrying heavy backpacks may develop back acne from the pressure of the straps. Finally, people who drive frequently can develop back acne from the pressure of the seat against their backs.

Treating Back Acne

Back acne can be difficult to treat because applying topical creams without a helping hand can be tricky. As a result, back acne often goes untreated. But, you should never suffer in silence. Besides prescription and over the counter medications, some effective tips to combat back acne include:

  • Shower after exercising: Sweat and dirty clothing from exercising can cause back acne. Be sure to always wash your skin to remove excess oils, debris, and bacteria before they clog pores, causing acne breakouts.
  • Exfoliate: Unlike the face, the pores on the back are much larger and more prone to clogging. Thus, they can tolerate an exfoliating cleanser several times per week. Doing so will keep your pores free from dead skin cells and other debris.
  • Switch your laundry products: Some detergents can irritate your skin, which causes dryness and inflammation. If you notice increased flare-ups, swap out scented detergents for unscented detergents.

If you fail to see improvement, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. Early interventions can prevent possible scarring. For more information about back acne, contact us at Short Hills Dermatology today!

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