Why do I have acne on my back or why do I get it in the first place? Relax, we have all you need to know about your bacne including causes (mild, severe or bad and cystic), how to get rid of them including treatments, good products to use and home remedies. And finally, if you end up with scars, we will guide you on how to get rid of them scars fast.
Back acne (acne vulgaris) refers to a skin condition (or a hair follicle disease) that is characterized by the presence of multiple zits or pimple-like lesions, blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, cysts, nodules, greasy skin and at times scarring. About 60% of the people who have it tend to have it on their back and chest areas.
o ensure you thoroughly understand which type of acne you might be having on your back, the common types are:
- Whiteheads – also referred to as closed comedones. They develop when a white bump is formed due to a closed plugged hair follicle beneath your skin.
- Blackheads – Otherwise known as open comedones. They are formed when you have open plugged hair follicles near your skin surface. Its black tip is formed due to the reaction of sebum and air.
- Papules – This is an inflamed reddish skin bump without ahead, which can be tender at times.
- Pustules– This is circular inflamed reddish bumps with a yellow or white pus-filled center and a red base.
- Cysts – This pus-filled very large painful acne lesions that often scar.
- Nodules – Nodules often forms deep below your skin making it feel hard, painful and nodule like.
Depending on the type you have on your back, breakouts can be mild or severe and relatively painless or very painful. Most people who have bacne are more likely to have severe facial acne. However, there are those who have them on their back but not on their face.
Finally, on locations, some people have it on their entire backs while others it is concentrated on the upper or lower back sections (lower back), around shoulders or on the back of their neck areas.
Who gets bacne?
On who gets it, it commonly affects teenagers i.e. begins at puberty and it might persist all through to young adulthood i.e. ages between 11 and 30 years, affecting about 80% of people in this age gap at certain points of their lives. It is most common in girls aged 14-17 and boys aged 16 to 19 years and disappears when someone is in his or her mid-twenties.
However, it can also affect newborn babies, grown-up men and women i.e. acne newborns and in adults. In fact, “about 5% of women and 1% of men have it and are over the age of 25” [Nhs.uk] including face, shoulders, buttock, chest and back and/or any part of the body that has hair follicles or sebaceous oil glands. It is therefore normal for a 30, 40, 50 years old woman or even man to have acne.
How is acne formed?
Before we look at some of the causes or contributing factors, you need to know how acne breakout occurs. Whenever dirt, “sebum, along with dead skin cells and bacteria, build up in the hair follicles on your back and clog them” [Everydayhealth.com] you are likely to end up with a clogged hair follicle which after some time will break down forming an acne lesion i.e. breakouts.
To have a glimpse of how bacne breakouts might appear, we have included a few photos or images one below and a few others in the test to give you a visual impression.
Acne on your back, just like breakouts on any other part of your body is not caused by one factor but a number of factors which we are going to discuss as the reasons why you have it on your back. Although the actual reason behind these breakouts is not known to doctors, some of the common causes or factors that encourage breakouts include:
1. Hormonal changes especially in teens
A change in hormone levels that is often common in puberty but can also occur at any stage is one of the main reasons why people get acne i.e. faces, neck, chest, shoulder, and back. Changes in hormone often trigger excess sebum production especially the estrogen or testosterone androgenic hormones. This increase chances of hair follicles being clogged and hence you will have bacne.
Another common cause that is associated with hormonal changes, is pregnancy. The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy tend to cause not just the back but also the facial, neck, chest and shoulder acne to some women.
3. Menstrual cycles in mature female
Going on with causes pimples on back, hormonal changes in girls and adult women is menstrual cycles i.e. “breakouts during hormonal changes that occur just before their menstrual cycle begins” [health.howstuffworks.com]. If you get them all over a sudden (one of the possible causes), just before your menstrual cycles, you now know what could be behind them.
4. Is genetics a cause?
Some people appear to be predisposed to suffer from bacne than others. This can be attributed to genetic or hereditary factors where some people inherit triggers of excessive sebum production.
5. Can stress cause them
Stress does not cause any kind. However, the hormonal changes associated with stress have shown to increase acne breakout including the ones on your back.
6. Acne mechanica – Friction and sweaty clothing during workouts
According to Jessica Weiser, a board-certified dermatologist, “sweat, exercise, tight-fitting clothing, non-breathable fabrics and other forms of surface occlusion (like a backpack) are some of the main causes of bacne” [Huffingtonpost.com].
Furthermore, pressure, heat, friction, pollution, and humidity increase the chances of having clogged pores on your back. Students who carry heavy bags or people who wear tight clothing and suspenders might have shoulder and bacne due to this cause.
7. Can certain foods and diets
Poor diet does not cause it. However, “some people say that eating certain foods makes their acne worsen” [Knowyourownskin.com.au], i.e., they tend to have breakouts that are more serious. The exact foods that increase breakouts vary from one individual to another.
Many scientists have refuted food as one of the factors that can cause them on the face, shoulders, buttock, chest, etc. However, “recent studies have implicated milk and pure chocolate in aggravating acne” [Medicinenet.com].
8. Drugs and medications
Some drugs are known to worsen breakouts especially those that have bromides and iodides or injected or oral steroids, anticonvulsants medications as well as lithium. Do not be surprised if the bacne outbreak worsens if you are an athlete or bodybuilder on steroids!
Using comedogenic (pore-clogging) cosmetic can result in acne. Go for water-based cosmetics i.e. those that water is listed as the 1st or 2nd ingredient. Some hair shampoos and conditioners that have “sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate” [Huffingpost.com] together with ingredients in your skincare and sunscreen especially lanolin, petrolatum/petroleum and some derivatives of silicone can worsen breakouts and irritate your skin.
10. Polycystic ovary syndrome
According to NHS choices, polycystic ovary syndrome is “a common condition that can cause acne, weight gain and the formation of small cysts inside the ovary.”
11. Other causes of back pimples or zits
Pityriasis Capitis, excessive smoking, consumption of alcohol and other carbonated drinks and excessive sweating is thought to worsen breakouts. Furthermore, greasy long hair can worsen breakouts.
I hope you now know the common causes pimples on the back or simply cause of back pimples/acne.
Conditions mimicking bacne
Sometimes, waxing i.e. inflamed hair follicle on the back after waxing can result in some back pimples. These are due to inflamed or ingrown hair follicles or folliculitis and not acne. You will commonly notice it after you have waxed your hairy back. Furthermore, suffering from rosacea, pseudofolliculitis, and gram-negative folliculitis can be confused for acne on the back.
Ensure you see a dermatologist help you identify if you have acne on your back or a condition that might be mimicking it.
Causes in females and males?
Whereas women tend to suffer more on the face, bacne has a surprising higher prevalence in men than women. Some of the causes in men is nothing other than what we have mentioned where genetics, hormonal changes, acne mechanica, diet, and waxing.
Similarly, causes in females include pregnancy, genetics, menstrual cycles, hormonal imbalance especially if accompanied by light or irregular periods and excessive body hairs, acne mechanica, polycystic ovary syndrome, etc.
Although we mentioned the fact that acne including bacne is common people while they are in their teens or young adults, we also said even adult men and women can also get it, chest, shoulders, buttock, and face – the most notorious.
What causes it to adults are the very things we have already discussed. You just need to be sure what causes yours.
Painful acne or pimples
A painful pimple on the back is likely to be nodules, cysts, papules or pustules. If it is painful and hard at the same time, they could be nodules.
Bad or severe
Whereas many people have mild to moderate bacne, at times you might end up with really bad breakouts. What causes bad bacne is nothing other than what we have already discussed which could be hormonal changes during pregnancy, that from steroids, hormonal body changes in puberty, acne mechanica, etc. It is a serious problem that can affect someone so much.
Very bad breakouts are nothing to be happy about especially if it is deep and painful. Furthermore, you will suffer from low esteem, self-consciousness, and try to isolate yourself.
Statements such as ‘why do I have so much back acne’, ‘I have real ones’ or why do I have bad ones you will find online can only show you how disturbing or troubled people are with this problem.
How to get rid of a bad or severe one
While looking for the bad type of treatment, we came through found the below of someone who has this problem in yahoo answers.
- “I am going to a swim party in 4 weeks. I wanna wear a bikini but I have back acne! How do I get rid of it? And do you think it will be gone in 4 weeks?” answers.yahoo.com
Severe acne on your back does not need trial and error or trying the various treatments available. It is simple, when bad acne on back, visit a doctor or your dermatologists help. This is because bad bacne will result in scars and dark spots on your mark if not treated effectively.
He or she should advise you not only on how to get rid of the severe cases but also ways managing bacne scars which you are likely to end up with. We will also discuss the common treatments for bad or severe acne. Do not rely on the answers, solutions, ideas or suggestions you get online or from your friends.
Getting rid of bacne
Emotionally, having acne has been associated with isolation, low self-esteem, self-consciousness, and for this case, it will even affect your dressing choice i.e. if you like backless dresses. You definitely do not want to suffer from all these. Furthermore, ignoring it will tend to form dark spots and permanent scar marks.
Most approaches used to treat facial breakouts can also be used on your back. The main intention is to reduce bacteria on skin, open pores and reduce sebum production. Here are some of the best solutions i.e. treatments, remedies, and products that can really help:
Treatment to heal or clear up
The first most recommended way to of getting rid of bacne is going for the various treatments especially for those who have bad acne. However, before you begin on any of the treatment regimens, see a doctor or dermatologist help you know what could be the cause. Once the cause is known, treatment will be much easier. Some of the best ways to treat or cure it include the following:
1. Topical prescribed and over the counter products – mild cases
For mild cases, use the various over the counter treatments that include creams, lotions, gels, sprays, soaps, cleansers, and other products with ingredients such as
- Benzoyl peroxide– works as a peeling agent that can kill almost all the bacteria on the skin and slow oil production
- Salicylic acid – it can help unplugs pores by breaking down whiteheads and blackheads, reduce shedding of cells, makes dead seek loose, reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Resorcinol – it can help in breaking down blackheads and whiteheads
- Sulfur– reduces swelling and redness and it does help in breaking blackheads and whiteheads down.
- Retin A– Has a wide application in fighting skin aging, acts as a chemical peel and it can help in unplugging pores that are clogged as we
- Azelaic acid – it “strengthens cells that line the follicles, stops oil eruptions, and reduces bacteria growth” [Medicalnewstoday.com]. It also neutralizes free radicals and reduces any inflammations.
These are some of the important ingredients you should seek for in any good product for acne on your back when it is mild. You can couple them with an alpha hydroxy acid such as Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion for better absorption.
You know that best treatment product that contains some of the above ingredients which can be coupled with other ingredients. Common products include:
If you are looking for good sprays, try the following:
- Murad Clarifying Acne Body Spray
- Glytone Back Acne Spray (2% Salicylic Acid)
- Murad Clarifying Body Spray – has retinol and salicylic acid
If you are looking for body wash, you can try the following to help heal your breakouts:
- Sans Ceuticals pH Perfect Body Wash
- Body Clear® Body Spray by Neutrogena
- Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash
These are just but a few of the best products, many others exist. Just check the ingredients that the cream, gel, lotion or solution you are buying contains.
You can get most of these products in your leading local drugstores or beauty shops as well as on the leading online shops virtually anywhere whether you are in the UK, Australia, India, Singapore, or anywhere else. You cannot miss them at Walmart, Walgreens, Boots, Amazon.com, etc.
For severe cases treatment, try the following, we recommend you opt for some of the below treatments.
2. Accutane (isotretinoin)
This is one of the most effective treatments that treat all causes. It is often recommended if you have widespread and severe cystic cases. It entails the use of oral medications for up to 20 weeks and can help fight acne on long-term with a success rate of about 66%. However, it has a number of side effects that include severe birth defects.
Oral and topical retinoids, which are much similar to vitamin A can, help in unblocking pores on already existing acne and reduce oil gland sizes i.e. “retinoid pills treat oil production, bacteria that cause acne and inflammation” [WebMD.com]. On the other hand, topical retinoids can unclog pores, allowing other acne medications to work more effectively.
4. Photodynamic therapy – PDT
This is a relatively new treatment that makes use of 20% 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) and or 20% solution of methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) photosensitizing agents together with red and/or blue light. Initial studies are showing some promises in this method that can be used in getting rid of back acne.
Do not use them if you are pregnant, plan to be pregnant or you are at risk of being pregnant. Furthermore, before they are prescribed, various tests might be required.
5. Can oral antibiotics help
At times, oral antibiotics may be recommended as you try to get rid of acne on your back. They help in reducing Propionibacterium acnes which quickly multiplies in plugged hair follicles.
6. Oral contraceptives for women- hormonal therapies
Sometimes, women might be given oral pills as a long-term treatment for acne including the one on the back as they suppress overactive oil glands. See a doctor if you smoke, suffer from migraines, you are over 35 years or you have a blood clotting problem.
7. Light therapy
This is a relatively “new treatment for acne is low-intensity light therapy where the affected skin is exposed to an artificial ultraviolet light source over a set amount of time on a regular basis” [Knowyourownskin.com.au]. This should be done by a specialist.
This hormonal treatment may be recommended if your acne fails to respond to antibiotic use. It reduces sebum production. Women using this treatment have a higher risk of ending up with breast cancer later.
9. Can Spironolactone (Aldactone) help?
This way to get rid of breakouts on the back or on any other part of your body works by blocking receptors for androgen hormone. It does help women with resistant to acne but will cause some side effects such as menstrual irregularities and breast tenderness.
10. Other treatments including for chest and shoulder acne
Other ways to get rid of pimples on the back i.e. approaches to cure them include heat therapy, cortisone shots (for cysts and nodules), topical antibiotics such as clindamycin that could be a solution, foam, gel, or lotion, chemical peels, and laser treatments, among others.
The idea of some treatment being regarded as best for bacne is overrated. The specific treatment recommended will depend on the severity of your bacne as well as what caused it. For instance, hormonal therapy could be ideal for women with hormonal imbalances while milder causes can be treated with topical anti-acne products. However, severe will require treatments such as isotretinoin, retinoids, etc.
The best way to get rid of acne in this area is to visit a dermatologist or doctor to get a diagnosis, prescription, and some general advice and tips to avoid breakouts.
Fast or overnight results
You might be having an event such as a wedding or dinner and you want to put on a backless dress. Such are instances people seek for ‘overnight back pimple treatments’ or ‘fast remedies to get rid of these back pimples’.
What should you do if you want to get rid breakouts in a night, a day, two days or three days? Are there treatments that can help you deal with this bacne ordeal quickly?
Our best advice for people who want to get rid of back pimples fast is to go to a specialist for advice. He or she will diagnose the cause of your bacne and recommend the best and fastest treatments to fix the problem. It is easier to treat bacne once you know the cause.
Furthermore, a specialist will also advise you on how you can hide or cover it using such as makeup. Do not try the various treatments or remedies as they can worsen bacne appearance and possibly cause scarring.
Some good cures can help you get rid of your of it in a week or less. However, most cures will take time, especially for the blemishes and scars to disappear even after the treatment,
Home remedies are what everyone runs for due to the fact they are cheap and use things you can find at home. Most people consider natural approaches to clear, cure or treat bacne as the best.
Unfortunately, most of these holistic treatments are claimed to be effective i.e. they clear this problem naturally, there is no proven clinical or scientific records that say these remedies actually work.
We will not discourage you from trying any remedy if you have mild to moderate cases since some remedies can soothe pain due to acne. However, most bacne remedies might take a little longer for results to show.
You do not expect these natural cures them to work miracles i.e. seeking home remedies that work overnight or in a day might not be real. So, what are some of the popular shoulder, chest, and ones to try?
- Oatmeal bath
- Oatmeal +honey masks
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dilute tea tree oil
- Mint leaves
- Cinnamon + honey mask
- Baking soda
- Aloe vera
- Epsom and Sea salt
- Clove oil
- Lavender oil
- Witch hazel
- White willow back toner + witch hazel + tea tree oil
If you are interested in trying any of these natural treatments, you get the recipes, procedures and other ingredients by visiting Get Rid of Back Acne with Top 15 Home Remedies. While a few of these ways to get rid of fast at home could yield faster, do not expect results like after two or three days. Wait for at least a week or a little longer.
Other common pimples on back home remedies include the use of tomato, sandalwood, lemon juice, orange peels, cucumber, turmeric powder, toothpaste, baking soda, egg whites and basil leaves, ground oil. See details on 16 Home Remedies for Back Acne.
On a lighter note, is it true that you can cure back acne overnight with an egg? I read this somewhere online while doing my research. Someone confirm.
Some of these remedies to eliminate back pimples can also help reduce scarring and other blemishes you might have due to acne.
Sometimes, you might end up with cystic back acne. These are the worst type of acne to have on your back since the infection goes deeper into your skin and it is often painful. They can also affect our neck especially back of the neck, chest and shoulder areas.
The causes cystic acne on the back is nothing other than what we have just seen especially hormonal changes (during puberty, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, and menopause) and some drugs you might be using.
It is advisable to ensure you get treatment since they can cause serious scarring especially large pits, depressions, ice picks, and hypertrophic scarring.
Cystic acne on back treatments includes birth control, isotretinoin, Spironolactone, prescription-strength gels, lotions and creams, steroid injections and oral antibiotics. Sometimes drainage and extraction might be performed if your acne does not respond to treatments.
Stop or prevent them
Instead of waiting until you have acne on your back and then begin fighting back, here are some of the ways to prevent or reduce them if you already have it.
- Immediately after a workout, take a shower. This will keep bacteria at bay since they are one of the contributing factors one having acne on the back. When showering, stay away from the regular soaps and try antibacterial cleansers designed for the face such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
- Always use mild skin care products and avoid harsh chemicals and fragrances, as they tend to worsen bacne breakout. Furthermore, reduce the use of oil-based products including cosmetics, moisturizers, sunscreens, etc, as they will worsen breakouts
- Another way to stop them is by avoiding scented laundry products including fabric softener, including your sleeping garments and bedsheets.
- To prevent acne on back, carefully select your cosmetics avoiding products that have comedogenic ingredients especially your shampoos, hair conditioners, sunscreens or body creams.
- Another way of preventing bacne is regular skin exfoliation to avoid dead skin build-up on your back and shoulder regions. Do not forget your lower back and back areas. Try electronic scrubbers such as Clarisonic Mia or Clinique’s Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator, purchased or homemade scrubs such as sugar, scrubbers with natural bristles, or products such as ‘Earth Therapeutic exfoliating towel and gloves’, etc. Do not be too aggressive as this can damage your skin or encourage overproduction of sebum that will worsen your breakouts.
- Careful choice of diet and trying the various home remedies can also help prevent back acne naturally.
- Reduce prolonged pressure on your back and shoulders, have shoulder pads, or put on a clean cotton T-shirt beneath. This will minimize prolonged pressure and friction that can cause acne mechanica.
- Avoid the cause especially if it is medicines you are taking, steroids, or working out in dirty sweaty clothes, etc.
- Do not scrub, squeeze, touch with your hands, pick or expose your breakout lesions to direct sunlight.
- To deal with bacne, manage stress, have enough sleep, avoid exposure to pollutants and toxins, take adequate amounts of water and improve your diet.
- Avoid excessive washing of your back since dirt is not one of the causes of pimples or acne
These are some of the easy ways to prevent, reduce or stop breakouts on our back, shoulder, buttocks or even chest. I hope it is clear on how to stop back pimples or prevent them.
After battling acne on your back, especially if it was severe, scarring is the next problem you are likely to have i.e. dark marks, blemishes, and scars on spots where you had acne. The level of scarring will be subject to the severity of your attack with mild one leaving small scars and vice versa.
The common acne scars you might end up include ice pick scars (small hole like depressions on your skin), rolling scars (happens when a scar tissue bad is formed beneath your skin giving your skin an even and rolling appearance and boxcar scars (round or oval craters or depressions).
If you have these scars, do not worry, there are many ways to get rid of acne scars on back. Most of these approaches can also be used to remove scars on your body and face. So, what are some of the common back acne scar treatments you should consider?
1. Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion
In dermabrasion, for more severe scars, a fine wire brush is spun on your skin surface to remove acne scars by abrasion. On the other hand, if they are less severe, microdermabrasion is used where crystals are blown onto your skin to abrade the surface of your skin.
2. Chemical peel
They can deal with less severe scars. A chemical is applied to your skin, often trichloroacetic acid or glycolic acid and then peeled away, removing some skin scar tissues with it.
3. Laser treatment before and after
For mild and moderate acne scars on your back, either ablative or non-ablative laser treatment may be used. See the before and after photo below.
4. Punch techniques
This will be important if you have boxcar scars or ice picks scars where punch excision (for mild ice pick scars treatment), elevation (for treat boxcar scars treatments) and grafting (when you have very deep ice pick scars) may be used.
This is a surgical procedure or technique can help to cure rolling scars. It might require additional treatments especially laser and dermabrasion to deal with scars.
5. Topical scar treatments products – creams, gels and lotions
There are a number of creams, lotions, solutions, and gels, which can help, reduce the appearance of mild to moderately severe acne scars on your back. Some of the best treatments you should try include:
- Dermagist Acne Scar Cream
- Bio-oil – for mild fresh scars
- Mederma Advanced Scar Gel
- Origins Super Spot Remover Blemish Gel
- Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment
- philosophy “Miracle Worker” Dark Spot Corrector
- Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Treatment SPF 15
- Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Protective Cream SPF 15
- Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum
- Kinerase Scar Treatment Therapy
- Proactiv Dark Spot Corrector
- Dermatix Ultra Advanced Scar Treatment
- Revitol Scar Removal Cream
- Elure Advanced Lightening Night Cream
6. Home remedies for these scars
Though unproven, there are many home remedies for removal of acne on the back that include onion juice, lemon juice, tomato pulp, sandalwood, olive oil, turmeric, nutmeg, coconut oil, Gotu Kola, orange peels, cucumber, garlic, oatmeal, potatoes, and pineapple juice. For details see 15 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Back Acne Scars.
Other at-home remedies to remove these scars include vitamin E oil, tea tree oil, aloe vera, honey, baking soda, and fenugreek seeks. See more details on how to use each of these remedies at 21 DIY Home Remedies for Back Acne Scars.
7. Other removal techniques
The other ways to clear them scars include collagen injection (they are effective in filling up the pits left by acne on your back),
How to get rid scars fast
For fast scar cure, go for dermabrasion (or microdermabrasion), laser, and punch, subscision, and chemical peels. The use of scar gels, creams, lotions or serums will take some time while home remedies will take a much longer time.
I hope by now can confidently say you know how to get rid of these scars fast. Thank you for your time.