Back acne, commonly referred to as “bacne,“ is one of the most common types of acne, affecting more than half of all people who suffer from acne breakouts. Acne itself is one of the most common skin conditions, which affects over 50 million Americans each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). When it appears anywhere on the body, acne can make patients feel self-conscious, and when acne appears on the back, it can often take the form of cysts or nodules, which are painful and uncomfortable. Back acne and other body acne can affect patients of any age and gender and there are a wide variety of potential risk factors for developing back acne, including hygiene practices, skin care routine, stress levels, and family history. When navigating acne treatment and prevention, it can feel overwhelming, which is why it is best to consult Dr. Michele Green in NYC, who is an expert in treating all types of acne, and permanently remove your back acne.
There are many treatment options and prevention practices that can be implemented to cure back acne and prevent future outbreaks. Prevention can be as simple as adjusting your post-workout bathing or increasing the frequency with which you clean your linens. When these changes are not enough to prevent your back acne, there are many over-the-counter topical cleansers and creams available containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to help remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve your acne breakouts. When these topical treatments fail to improve your bacne, it is time to consult with Dr. Green to see which combination of cosmetic treatments such as HydraFacials, prescription medications such as oral antibiotics or Isotretinoin (Accutane)may be needed. Dr. Green can also help to determine the best skin care products available to keep your skin clear and smooth.
Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades providing some of the most discerning men and women from around the world with the best non-invasive treatment options. In her private dermatology office, located in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, she expertly utilizes the most cutting-edge technology and innovative treatment techniques to give her patients natural-looking and long-lasting results that help them to look and feel like the best version of themselves. She is consistently voted as one of New York’s best physicians by Super Doctors, New York Magazine, and Castle Connolly. When you work with Dr. Green, she recommends the best specially formulated skin care products and in-office cosmetic treatments to deliver optimal results, whether it be Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels, laser treatments, or more.
What is back acne (bacne)?
Back acne, sometimes also known as “bacne,” is a common form of acne breakout that appears on the back. Though the face is the most common area that patients experience acne blemishes, body acne, including chest acne, back acne, and acne on the buttocks can frequently occur and be frustrating and uncomfortable for many patients. Bacne can develop almost anywhere on the back but is found most commonly along the shoulders and upper back or down to the waist. Pimples on the back can take many different forms, from whiteheads or blackheads to painful red bumps, cysts, or nodules. While acne breakouts are most closely associated with those who are going through hormonal shifts, back acne can happen to anyone and can be caused by a variety of factors outside of hormonal changes. When not treated properly or in a timely manner, acne breakouts can lead to acne scars.
What are the different types of acne?
There are several different types of acne that can develop on the back:
Closed Comedones (Whiteheads): Whiteheads are also known as closed comedones and form when the pores or hair follicles are clogged with dirt, debris, and sebum. Whiteheads are called closed comedones specifically because the pore stays closed, trapping the debris under the skin and causing a white top to the bump.
Open Comedones (Blackheads): Similarly to whiteheads, blackheads are formed when oil, dead skin cells, and other debris clog the hair follicle. However, unlike whiteheads, blackheads are open comedones, meaning that the pore is open on the surface of the skin. The open comedones are black in appearance due to the reaction of the sebum in the pore to the air
Papules: Papules are a type of inflammatory acne that appear as red bumps on the surface of the skin. Papules can often feel tender or painful and form when the clogged pore becomes inflamed.
Pustules: Pustules are often times called pimples and, similarly to papules, are a form of inflammatory acne. However, unlike papules, pustules are filled with pus as a result of an accumulation of white blood cells in the area. Often, pustules appear white or yellow in color due to the pus.
Nodules: Nodules develop when a clogged hair follicle becomes infected with bacteria. Nodules may form deeper into the tissue and result in a hard, red bump on the surface of the skin, which is often painful.
Cysts: Cystic acne develops when pus-filled acne is also infected with bacteria. Cysts also form deeper under the surface of the skin and will also form a red bump on the surface, which causes pain and discomfort.
What causes back acne?
Back acne is caused when a buildup of dirt, oil, dead skin cells, sweat, and/or other debris is trapped in the pores of the skin. Clogged pores can trigger an increased production of sebum from the oil glands, known as sebaceous glands, which can further contribute to the buildup of debris in the clogged follicles. Sometimes, when the pores are clogged, bacteria known as cutibacterium can become trapped within the pores, which leads to an inflammatory reaction and more painful pimples. The pores on the back are also particularly susceptible to sweat acne, which can occur when sweat, friction, and heat combine to clog pores and trap cutibacterium on the surface of the skin. Friction can be caused by backpack straps, sports equipment, non-wicking clothing, hats, and headbands. When friction is involved in causing an acne breakout, this is known acne mechanica. Luckily, there are some easy lifestyle changes that patients can make to decrease your risk of developing acne mechanica on the back.
Why do I have back acne?
There are many risk factors that can contribute to the development of back acne:
Family History: There are biological factors that are a risk in the development of acne on the back and patients who have a history of acne breakouts in their family may be more susceptible to breakouts themselves. Additionally, if there is a family history of overactive sebaceous glands, you may be more likely to have a higher sebum production, which can lead to a higher risk of pores getting clogged with oil.
Hormone Shifts: Changes in levels of hormones can also contribute to the development of acne on the back. People who are going through puberty and pregnant people may be more likely to experience body acne due to the hormone fluctuations occurring.
Poor Hygienic Practices: You may be more likely to develop zits on your back if you do not practice proper hygiene. After a workout or any form of intense sweating, sweat can get trapped on the surface of the skin if you stay in sweaty clothes or do not shower right away. Sweat that remains on the surface of the skin can trap bacteria on the skin and lead to a breakout. Additionally, if you do not change your sheets and pillowcase frequently, dirt, dead skin cells, and other debris can remain on the surface and clog the pores.
Diet: Diets that are high on the glycemic index, meaning rich in carbohydrates and sugars, can trigger acne breakouts. Foods that increase your blood sugar level, include breads, sugary pastries, cereals, milk, and soda, can also lead to increased likelihood of back acne breakouts.
Friction: Acne mechanica is more likely to occur when there is friction between an article of clothing or equipment and the skin, and is especially exacerbated when there is sweat in the area. When it comes to the back specifically, back acne can form in the area where the shoulder straps of a backpack rub against the back or other sports equipment or clothing.
Medication: There are some prescription medications that can increase your likelihood of developing body acne, including corticosteroids, androgens (also known as male hormones), and lithium.
Skin care: Skin care products that are heavier, such as some lotions and creams, may have a high oil content and can therefore contribute to clogging the pores. Some patients also may scrub their backs but the friction can actually contribute to the development of acne.
High Stress: Patients who are struggling with a stressful environment or anxiety may be more likely to develop acne breakouts across the body. Stress can lead to the overproduction of certain hormones, which can, in turn, trigger the increased production of sebum from the oil glands. This increased sebum production can clog the pores and contribute to bacne breakouts.
How to prevent back acne
While some of the risk factors for developing acne are biological, such as family history or changes in hormones, many risk factors are behavioral and can thus be adjusted in order to decrease the risk of acne on the back.
Hygienic Practices: One way to prevent back acne is to improve your hygienic practices, particularly surrounding work outs and other activities that make you sweat. To start, it is better to wear moisture-wicking, loose-fitting workout clothes during activities. Breathable fabrics will help to reduce the amount of sweat being trapped on the surface of the skin. Further, it is best to shower as soon as possible after a workout in order to wash away any sweat that has remained on your skin. Dr. Green recommends the use of an oil-free body wash.
Reducing Friction: As acne mechanica forms as a result of sweat and friction, to prevent breakouts on the back it is important to reduce the use of equipment that may rub up against the skin. Instead of wearing a backpack, try an over the shoulder or rolling bag to reduce the friction of straps down the back. If you must share sports equipment, make sure to wash it in between each use.
Use Oil-Free Skin Care Products: In order to reduce oily skin, it is important to keep the skin hydrated with light, oil-free cleansers, lotions, face wash, and body wash. When looking for this type of product at the store, look for labels that say “noncomedogenic” or “oil-free.”
Wear Sunscreen: Exposure to the sun can dry out the skin, which can then lead to an overproduction of sebum. The increased sebum levels can clog the pores and lead to acne blemishes. For that reason, it is very important to wear sunscreen anytime you are outside during the day in order to protect your skin from a variety of skin conditions, including acne and rosacea.
Reducing Stress: Mental and emotional wellness are also important for physical wellness. Stress can lead to hormone imbalances, which can lead to an increased sebum production. As much as possible, try to find ways to decrease levels of stress and anxiety in order to reduce the likelihood of acne blemishes.
Does back acne go away on its own?
In some cases, breakouts of bacne can resolve themselves over time. Additionally, adjusting lifestyle practices in order to keep the skin clean and clear can help to reduce the affects of acne. However, if acne continues to come back or severe acne develops on the back, it is best to consult with a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, in order to determine the best ways to treat the condition. Cases of severe acne may require prescription acne medication or other acne-clearing procedures that are found at a dermatologist’s office.
How to get rid of back acne with the help of a dermatologist
When navigating the many treatment options for back acne, it is best to begin by consulting a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green. Dr. Green can help determine the medications or treatments that will work best for your type of acne and lifestyle. Patients with severe acne or recurring breakouts may require stronger medication than patients for whom breakouts are less severe. For those struggling with severe acne, Dr. Green can prescribe antibiotic topical or oral medication or recommend more targeted treatment, such as acne surgery. Dr. Green can also recommend the best noncomedogenic skincare products available at her proprietary MGSKINLABs.
How to treat back acne at home
There are many over-the-counter body washes and medications that can help to treat mild breakouts of back acne at home. To start, you may want to acquire a lotion applicator in order to reach difficult areas of your back, which can be easily purchased online. When looking for body washes or topical cream to treat acne, it is best to look for benzoyl peroxide-based products, retinoids, and products containing salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide is an anti-bacterial ingredient that helps to clear the bacteria that causes acne. You can find body washes or topical creams containing benzoyl peroxide. It is best to leave the wash or cream on for 2-5 minutes before rinsing off, as benzoyl peroxide can stain clothing, towels, and sheets. As such, it is important to gently but thoroughly clean the area after use. Benzoyl peroxide can be found in different strengths but a product with 5.3% benzoyl peroxide is a good place to start, as a common side effect of stronger concentrations is dry and irritated skin. Retinoids are also helpful in unclogging the pores and can be paired with benzoyl peroxide in order to heighten the treatment. Retinoid gel should be applied on a daily basis for best results.
How to clear back acne with medication
When it comes to treating severe acne, cystic acne, or nodular acne, topical creams are often not enough. After your initial consultation with Dr. Green, she may determine that your acne requires a prescription antibiotic medication in order to completely clear the area. Oral or topical antibiotics help to reduce the prevalence of acne-causing bacteria on the skin and come in many forms. Common forms of topical antibiotics include Erythromycin and Clindamycin, while commonly prescribed oral antibiotics for acne include Minocycline, Tetracycline, and Doxycycline. In some cases, it may be necessary to use corticosteroid injections in order to decrease the amount of inflammation in severe acne pustules and cysts. These injections may also be used in conjunction with acne surgery, which is when the pimples are opened and drained of sebum and debris. When you consult with Dr. Green, she may provide you with a prescription for acne medication in order to best treat your breakout.
How to cure back acne
There are many ways to treat bacne that range from changes in behavior to over-the-counter topical creams to prescription antibiotics to in-office procedures. The first step in curing back acne blemishes is to consult with an experienced dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, as she can examine the type of acne you are dealing with and provide a recommendation for the best course of action. In some cases, you may be able to implement simple lifestyle changes, such as wearing loose-fitting, moisture-wicking clothing while working out and showering immediately after becoming sweaty. Changing your diet to limit intake of sugar and carbohydrates may also help to reduce back acne. Dr. Green may also recommend a change in the skin care products you use in order to incorporate noncomedogenic lotions, cleansers, and body washes. Over-the-counter topical creams containing benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, or salicylic acid may also be effective in reducing mild to moderate acne.
Some patients may find that their acne is too severe to be eliminated with lifestyle changes or over-the-counter medications. For those patients, Dr. Green may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic to reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria in the area. Oral antibiotics are best for cystic and nodular acne. There are also in-office procedures that can help to reduce the signs of acne, such as laser therapy, chemical peels, and acne surgery. Laser therapy can help to reduce signs of redness using the V-Beam laser, while chemical peels can help to exfoliate the skin and promote skin cell turnover. Acne surgery may be required to clear a deep acne lesion of sebum, dead skin cells, and other debris.
Is back acne normal?
Back acne is a very common condition, which effects more than 50 percent of people experience acne. Acne occurs most frequently on parts of the body with a high concentration of sebaceous glands, including the face, back, chest, and buttocks. When dealing with any type of acne, the best first step is to consult with an expert dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, so you can receive a personalized treatment plan.
Why am I getting back acne?
There are many reasons why one might experience bacne. Some risk factors are biological, such as having a family history of acne or shifts in levels of hormones. Biological factors that contribute to acne can be difficult to address but with a proper skincare routine, the risk of developing back acne can be decreased. Some risk factors for developing back acne are behavioral, such as wearing tight-fitting clothes, failing to shower directly after a workout, failing to clean clothes in between work outs, and consuming a high glycemic index diet. The risk of developing back acne can be reduced if you change your behaviors in order to keep your skin clear and clean.
Is back acne hormonal?
One potential risk factor for bacne is shifts in hormone levels. Changes in hormone levels can occur in a variety of situations but are most common during puberty and during pregnancy. Shifting hormone levels can trigger the body to produce excess sebum from the sebaceous glands, which can clog the pores and lead to acne breakouts. High stress or anxiety can also result in changes in hormone levels, which can similarly cause the body to produce more sebum.
How to exfoliate back acne
When looking to treat or prevent back acne it is important to be gentle when washing the treatment area. Some patients believe that scrubbing or exfoliating the skin with a loofah or back brush helps acne but in reality, the harsh friction of these products can actually make acne worse. When treating back acne, it is best to use noncomedogenic soaps and gentle cleansers. For some patients, Dr. Green may recommend the use of a chemical peel in order to exfoliate the skin in a controlled manner and stimulate skin cell turnover. In that case, the chemical peel will be performed in Dr. Green’s office for the best results.
Does sunscreen help with bacne?
Wearing sunscreen outside is very important in helping to reduce the risk of back acne. While many people believe that exposure to the sun helps to clear up acne, in reality, the sun’s rays can dry up the skin. In order to keep your skin hydrated, your body produces more oil, which can clog the pores and lead to outbreaks. Wearing sunscreen outside helps to protect the skin from drying out and prevents the overproduction of sebum. Patients should be advised to find sunscreen that is light and to wash sunscreen off at the end of the day in order to keep the skin clear.
How do I know what to use for back acne?
There are many possible solutions when it comes to treating back acne and it can feel difficult to navigate all of the options. That is why it is best to begin by consulting with an expert dermatologist, such as Dr. Green. When you have your initial consultation with Dr. Green, she will examine the treatment area and discuss your history with acne breakouts. Then, Dr. Green can make a recommendation about which treatments or series of treatments will work best to address your unique needs. With her proprietary MGSKINLABs, Dr. Green also has the best skin care products to keep your skin hydrated, clear, and smooth.
How to deal with back acne
Back acne is a skin condition that can be difficult to resolve and cause feelings of self-consciousness. It is essential to seek treatment with a board-certified medical professional, like cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green in NYC, in order to best prevent the development of acne scarring, which can often be more challenging to treat than the breakout itself. If you find yourself struggling with the presence of back acne, there are luckily plenty of methods of prevention and treatment available that can help. Since there are so many different types of acne breakouts and a multitude of treatment options exist for clearing them up, it can feel somewhat daunting to try and navigate the best approach to a solution on your own. The best first step to treating a breakout is to schedule a consultation with an expert, like Dr. Green, who can aptly determine the type or types of acne that you are experiencing and work with you to potentially discover the underlying causes of your acne.
Dr. Green can then personalize your treatment approach and will select the appropriate skincare products, prescribe any necessary medications, and recommend the in-office non-invasive treatments to help you clear your complexion for the long-term, leaving you with healthy, radiant, smooth skin that lasts. Dr. Green in New York City is recognized and appreciated around the world for her experience and expertise when it comes to providing optimal cosmetic results for her patients. She is consistently voted as one of New York’s best dermatologists by Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine for her excellent Botox and dermal filler injections, chemical peels, laser resurfacing treatments, skin tightening and fat removal treatments, and more. To get started with eliminating your back acne call the NYC office of Dr. Michele Green at 212-535-3088 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation for clear, smooth, and healthy-looking skin.