Back acne can show up as any of the following; congested pores, whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules, or cysts (deep pimples). You can do a lot to improve and even erase your back acne if you understand what causes it and what doesn’t and if you know what you can get at a drugstore or cosmetic counter without a prescription. For tougher cases, a consultation with a physician would probably be your best bet.
No one factor causes back acne. As physicians understand it, back acne happens when oil (sebaceous) glands come to life around puberty, when these glands are stimulated by male hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands of both boys and girls. At some times, cells close to the openings of the oil glands block the pores. Bacteria normally living on the skin thrive on this oil, reproduce, and inflame surrounding tissues.
Heredity has little, or nothing, to do with it. Most people don’t have the problem just the way their parents did except in very severe cases. Practically even human being experiences back acne at some point, whether their relatives have had it or not. Some people are just naturally oilier than others.
Parents from the US to the Far East tell their teenagers to stay away from pizza, chocolate, greasy and fried foods, and junk foods. Well, this is probably good advice, since they can affect overall health, but they certainly don’t make back acne worse. Stress does not play much of a direct role in causing back acne. The good news is that to improve the back acne, people are not required to calm down and reduce stress unless it is causing them to pick at their skin.
Since everyone gets back acne at some time, there is no “correct” time to treat it. It depends on how you’re reacting to it, and when you think it’s out of control. It may be a sudden and severe breakout on your back that’s just plain ugly, a few pimples on your back that just never seem to go away, or that single white head that suddenly appears a few days before your wedding. It’s your decision and it’s usually common sense.
Causes of Back Acne
Acne on the back is caused by two essential issues. Heat and friction are the main components for back acne, which is sometimes referred to as athletic acne since these types of breakouts on the back are common among athletes. For example, in football players, shoulder pads can create a great deal of heat and friction on the backs of the shoulders and between the shoulder blades, in turn causing acne on the player’s back. In cyclists, tight-fitting spandex clothing can rub against the skin, as well as trap body oils, debris and dead skin cells against the skin surface of the back.
Needless to say, participating in sports also means time in the showers. If you must shower, don’t do it as often and don’t do it any longer than the short time absolutely necessary to get clean. Unfortunately, in our efforts to remain clean, we tend to take more time to the shower. And it seems that many people who love long showers have back acne. Tough to understand why to be sure. Perhaps the drops of moisture beating down on the skin are forced into the pores, carrying dead cells, dirt and body oils along with them. Or maybe it’s simply the heat and excessive skin drying that showers can cause, which can make the skin over-produce oils to replace whatever moisture has been lost, contributing to an acne breakout. These are only personal theories, which have no basis in research.
One way to begin prevention is to apply benzoyl peroxide or witch hazel to your back before participating in any sports or performing any other activities where the probability for sweating is increased. Benzoyl peroxide will kill much of the bacteria that may accumulate on your back as you sweat. Witch hazel has been used for years to dry up oil and tone the skin.
Also be sure to wash your back immediately after an exercise session but be careful not to spend too much time in the shower. If you are prone to excessive sweating, you should probably change your shirt twice a day whether you exercise or not to avoid bacteria buildup that can further aggravate your acne.
Natural Back Acne Treatment
Wearing synthetic fibers and keeping the skin clean can help prevent many cases of back acne. But, what do you do if those pimples still sneak up on you from behind? Lots of spot treatments are available, including topical gels or lotions.
Many acne medications found at your local drugstore contain benzoyl peroxide. While it’s very effective for fighting acne, the ingredient may stain your clothing if you dress too soon after application. Be sure to allow the medication to fully absorb and dry before putting on your clothes. Other acne treatments are formulated with salicylic acid, which won’t stain your clothes. Be sure to read the product label so you know what you’re dealing with.
What can make back acne more difficult to treat than pimples that appear on your face is obvious. Your face is exposed to sunlight, which in moderation can actually help clear up the skin. Your back, however, is covered up with clothes all day fabrics that can hold in sweat, dead skin cells and other debris.
Use the topical medication only where you actually have breakouts. Otherwise, if treatment is ongoing or if it takes a long time, you’ll end up drying out your entire back. There are other things you can do as well many are common sense.
Do you have long hair? Think about it, your hair is touching the skin on your neck and between your shoulder blades. It can create a small sweaty spot when it’s against your cotton shirt. Either way, the contact may well be aggravating the pores on your back. So, if you find that back acne strikes too frequently, you might consider cutting your hair back to the collar line or figure out a way to prevent your hair from lying across your back.
Removing back hair by waxing can also lead to very bothersome breakouts. Of course, we need to deal with the issue of wearing sunscreen a topic that’s on everyone’s mind these days. It makes sense that a man who has endured ugly back acne all winter will notice that sun exposure may temporarily clear up the problem. However, he needs to beware this double edged sword. Lots of sun exposure may clear up your back, but it can also scar your sensitive skin. Everything in moderation. Tanning may camouflage your breakouts during the summer months, but you may find that your back acne will be even worse when the leaves begin to fall. Use sunscreen when exposing your back or any other part of our skin to the sun. An oil-free sunscreen will protect your skin from sun, scarring and back acne.
Back Acne Medication and Treatment
Some sufferers try to make a joke out of it and refer to those ugly breakouts on their backs as “bacne.” Body acne can also strike many people on the chest, shoulders, and even buttocks. When the lesions are large and painful, the case is considered more severe and may require over the counter medications, or even medical treatment.
Many acne treatment products available over the counter contain benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient works best for people with light to moderate acne on their bodies. Because the skin of the back is thicker than elsewhere on the body, it is often able to withstand 10% benzoyl peroxide well. Always consider that using a 10% strength anywhere else on the face or body may do more harm than good. A 2.5% version of benzoyl peroxide is not only less expensive in most cases, but it is more easily tolerated on more sensitive areas of the body.
Another word of caution: benzoyl peroxide bleaches fabric actually removes the dye from any clothing it comes in contact with. And, there’s simply no way around it. So, to be absolutely sure that you don’t damage any of your colored clothing, wear white while using products with benzoyl peroxide. The product may have been dry for quite a while, but you’ll still sweat and possibly re-moisten the gel or cream. Even if you had applied the treatment several hours earlier, it would still not be safe to let that area touch colored clothing.
While there has been an awful lot of research on the topic, the exact cause of body acne is still unknown. One thing we do know for sure any irritation to the skin can make acne worse. If you tend to notice that acne develops more in certain areas of your body than in others, you may be able to chalk it up to coincidence, or it may be caused by some kind of external irritant. Backpacks and purse straps, or even very tight fitting clothing, may aggravate acne in some people. We must recognize that we can’t prevent irritation by keeping the back and buttocks untouched; life happens, and we all sit, stand and walk. Clothing rubs against the skin. We all carry things around. Rather than focusing on what might be irritating your skin, it may be better to look for a good treatment option.
Prevention and Tips to Get Rid of Back Acne
Why is it that so many people seem more likely to suffer from back acne in the wintertime? The results of developing a case of back acne are predictable. People may avoid any occasion when they must remove their shirt. A person who’s dating or who uses the showers at the gym can often be embarrassed by the unsightly problem. Not to mention that pimples on the back are hard to reach, and they can hurt a whole lot.
Like other parts of the body, the back has lots of oil glands. Few people realize that. Acne on the face or on the arms is generally exposed to light, but the back is covered up all day. What if a person wears breathable cotton undershirts to prevent sweat stains on their clothes? Well, unbeknownst to them, sweat soaks into the cotton and stays in contact with the skin.
One way to deal with back acne is to wear synthetic fibers and avoid cotton clothes. There are many undershirts on the market that are made with “moisture-wicking” fabric, that keeps the sweat away from the skin. A person who wears cotton workout clothing should quickly change out of the sweat drenched shirt promptly after working out. So, a person thinks about it and takes off that sweaty cotton shirt before hitting the showers. Then what? Paying extra attention to the back when showering can make all the difference when dealing with back acne. Dead skin cells clog up pores and lead to breakouts. A “loofah” sponge or some other kind of scrubber should be just abrasive enough to remove dead skin cells while lathering up. One thing to remember: be very careful when scrubbing around any active breakouts on the back irritating them is never a great idea. Using the proper scrubber and a gentle hand will remove these dead skin cells without aggravating the acne. Some of the best tools for cleaning the back are loofahs or brushes that come on a stick; both make solo back cleaning less challenging.
Grab your trusty loofah, step under the shower, soap up and scrub gently. The idea is to gently remove excess cells, without being so harsh that the skin is broken. Men and women who need extra help keeping their backs clear need to find a good cleanser designed especially for body acne.
One tip: using an acne treatment cleanser can be a good thing, but using it all over the body may not be. The treatment cleanser should be used only in the areas where acne appears. These bath products tend to dry the skin, and should probably not be used on more tender areas.