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How to get rid of back acne

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Acne is a distressing skin condition characterised by whiteheads, blackheads, pus filled spots called pustules and angry, red, inflamed skin. Most people associate acne with the face, but it can also affect the back, causing discomfort and upset for sufferers. Back acne can affect small areas of the back, or it can form large clusters of acne breakouts all over the back.

So how does back acne appear, and is treating it the same as treating acne spots on the face?

Why does back acne develop?

Acne spots on the back are caused by the same reasons as acne on the face. This could be due to excess sebum production, hormonal imbalances, genetics or an overgrowth of a common skin bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.

Back acne is also made worse by sweating, and under normal circumstances, we spend all day in clothes, so the sweat cannot escape.

How to get rid of back acne at home

Since back acne can be made worse by a buildup of sweat clogging the pores, trapping acne causing dirt and cellular debris, one of the best ways to help manage back acne is to wear loose fitting clothing made from natural, breathable fabrics such as cotton and hemp.

You can also help your skin on your back by not wearing backpacks on your back, that will rub the skin, potentially making it more inflamed.

It’s especially important to consider what fabrics you’re wearing to support healthy skin when you’re exercising. Exercise obviously creates more sweat, so exercising in non breathable fabrics is going to exacerbate back acne.

Sadly, most exercise gear is made from tight fitting fabrics that don’t allow the skin to breathe. But there are lots of brands that create ‘moisture wicking’ fabrics that are designed to move moisture in the form of sweat away from the skin.

Whatever you wear to exercise in, it's crucial to shower as soon as possible after exercising. This will remove sweat from the back before it has a chance to dry on the skin and block the pores.

Choosing your fabrics carefully and showering after exercise will help to manage your back acne, but it won’t help to treat the root cause.

At Sönd, we believe in a holistic approach to skincare, one that means looking at the factors that could be leading to our non conformist skin.

How to get rid of back acne naturally

As part of a holistic approach to managing stressed out skin, we believe that our best defence is taking a look at our diet and lifestyle.

Treating back acne naturally could be a case of changing our diet to one which eliminates food triggers, reducing our stress levels with yoga and mindfulness and using a brand of skincare specifically formulated to support non conformist skin.

You can also use skincare products to wash with, that contain natural antiseptics such as tea tree oil, that can help to keep back acne under control.

But there are times when diet and lifestyle changes don’t help to clear the skin, and back acne can hang around. This is when you’ll need to consider other options.

How to get rid of back and shoulder acne

If diet and lifestyle changes don’t help to manage your back acne, then there are other options you can consider.

First up is considering using body skincare products that contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a type of fruit acid that removes the top layer of skin, effectively exfoliating the skin and ridding it of pore clogging, acne breakout causing dirt and cellular debris.

Salicylic acid is also used on the face to help manage facial acne, but it needs to be used sparingly. The skin on the back and shoulders is more durable than the skin on the face, so you can use salicylic acid body washes to clean your back on a daily basis.

How to get rid of back acne products

There are also medical options for treating back acne, that are the same products used to help treat acne on the face.

Topical treatments (that you might need extra help in applying to your back) include retinoid creams and antibiotic ointments. We have more information on our page dedicated to topical treatments for acne.

Our page dedicated to medications for acne has lots of detailed information on oral treatments you can use to help manage your back acne.

How to get rid of cystic back acne

Cystic acne is often a severe type of acne, where the acne spots have become infected after the glands in the skin that produce sebum, called the sebaceous glands, have become blocked.

It’s typified by large, pus filled spots and yellow heads that look red, angry and inflamed, and can affect the back as well as the face.

Treating cystic back acne takes time, but by following the advice here, from holistic approaches to different skincare to medications to help treat acne, you will eventually find some solace in clearer skin.

How to get rid of hormonal back acne

Back acne caused by a hormone imbalance is usually down to an excess of androgens, male hormones, that trigger the release of excess sebum.

Sebum is the waxy substance naturally produced by the skin to keep it hydrated, but if it’s produced in excess, it can block the pores leading to acne breakouts.

Hormonal imbalances are usually caused by going through puberty, having your period, being pregnant, suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or going through the menopause.

Often, back acne caused by shorter term life events such as pregnancy or the menopause will clear up once you’ve given birth or have become post menopausal. But essentially, treating back acne caused by hormones is the same as treating all back acne, by following the advice outlined in this article.

How to get rid of back acne when pregnant

However, when you’re pregnant, you’re advised not to take certain medications that can help to treat hormonal acne.

Therefore, it’s best to stick to the holistic approaches to treating back acne. There are also other safe acne treatments when pregnant that you can try, such as blue light acne treatment.

But if your pregnancy acne is bothering you, speak to your GP, midwife or specialist for more advice.

How to get rid of teenage back acne

Treating teenage back acne is just the same as treating back acne in adults, with all the ways we’re discussing here.

Many teenagers ‘grow out’ of their non conformist skin and tend to find that their acne clears up once their hormones settle down and stop producing excess sebum after puberty.

How to get rid of back acne overnight

Sadly, just as with all types of non-conformist skin, there is no magic overnight treatment for back acne.

But don’t lose faith, with the right diet and lifestyle changes, the right skincare and if necessary, the right medicated products or oral medicines, you can treat your back acne and help to prevent it from returning.

It might feel like a long and thankless task, but after a few months of sticking to your new regime, you will start to see the benefits.



Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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