Back Acne aka Backne - How I Got Rid of It
Back acne (or backne as some might like to call it) is a common skin problem. Up to two-thirds of those who have facial acne also have back acne. Unfortunately, it has not received the same amount of attention which facial acne does, and as a result no clear treatment regimen exists. I would like to share you my experience of backne and the method which I have used to successfully get rid this skin problem for good.
So what causes backne?
The same disease mechanism which causes facial acne also causes back acne. Similar to facial acne, we are uncertain as to how some people get backne whilst others do not. Certain people at certain periods of their life (especially during teenage years) experience an increase in oil production in their skin. Dead skin cells and excess oil get trapped in skin pores (small holes in your skin where hair grows out), creating a perfect breeding site for bacteria. The combination of dead skin cells, oil, dead bacteria and white blood cells (which your body produces to get rid of the bacteria) lead to the formation of white heads, which are filled with pus.
Certain scenarios can aggravate acne. Skin irritation and excess sweating are known to be associated with acne. Incidentally, these things are also common in the back due to the warm temperature beneath our clothing and the constant rubbing of clothing and bag straps against the skin.
I've battled with acne for many years. Like many people, it started on my face when I was a teenager, but a few years later, it had spread to my back. I naturally became very self conscious of people seeing my back, which was scarred from the acne and I avoided swimming at all costs. My confidence in my body image plummeted.
After discovering acne.org (excellent resource by the way), I tried their recommended acne regimen and found it incredibly effective in clearing away facial acne. The regimen basically involved applying generous amounts of benzoyl peroxide cream (a medicine which kills the bacteria that causes spots) to the face and then moisturizing the skin afterwards, as the cream tends to dry the skin out. Although great for the face, this regimen was not practical for the back.
For a start, the back is a very large area and the skin is also a lot thicker than the face. The amount of cream you would need to cover your back and provide sufficient dosage to clear the acne is going to set you back in terms of cost. Secondly, there is also another problem of how you apply the cream yourself. For the regimen to work, it is important to massage the cream onto the back until it is well absorbed. Unless you have someone do it for you, it can be extremely tedious applying all that cream yourself. Thirdly, benzoyl peroxide bleaches fabric, which I discovered the hard way. I have accidentally bleached quite a few shirts in the past having spread the cream on my back before getting dressed. Similarly, the cream can bleach duvets and pillows too. Needless to say, I was determined to find a more practical solution to the problem.
How I Got Rid of Backne
After trying various methods, I finally found one which worked for me. This method doesn't really need any expensive medication or herbal product - just a little bit of elbow grease and a cheap over-the-counter body wash.
The problem of benzoyl peroxide bleaching fabrics can be overcome using benzoyl peroxide body wash during a shower. I personally use PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash, which is a relatively inexpensive product and can be purchased from a variety of pharmacies and online stores (see below). Because the body wash is washed off, it should not cause bleaching of your clothing.
There is still a problem with applying the body wash - after all, facial benzoyl peroxide cream requires you to massage it into your skin, which would take a lot of effort for your entire back.
This problem can be overcome by gentle skin exfoliation using a body back scrub brush. I need to thank for my girlfriend for this tip. She has always been a great believer in exfoliating the skin. Skin exfoliation has two effects. Firstly, it opens up the skin pores and allows penetration of the benzoyl peroxide body wash without the strenuous efforts of massaging it to your skin. Simply use the body wash as you would if you were to use a shower gel to clean your back. Secondly, the exfoliation removes dead skin cells which could potentially clog up the pores and cause acne.
The exact steps which I take to clean my back are as follows:
Step 1. Step into the shower and let the hot water run on your body and back. The hot water helps open the pores and aids the exfoliation process.
Step 2. Grab your body scrub brush and in gentle circular motions scrub your back, making sure you reach all the affected areas. This should take no more than 20 seconds.
Step 3. Take a finger length's amount of benzoyl peroxide body wash and lather into your hands. Apply it to your back as you would if you were to apply shower gel. There is no need to massage vigorously onto the skin, so this step shouldn't be too difficult.
Step 4. Make sure you rinse off all the body wash on your back. If you like, you could use normal shower gel to wash your back afterwards to ensure that all the cream is washed off. If you don't, there is a slight risk that your clothes may become bleached.
Step 5. Step out of the shower! Repeat this every other day.
Will It Work For You?
Before you try my regimen, I have to stress that although this regimen has worked for me, it may not work for everybody.
The benzoyl peroxide body wash which I use is fairly concentrated, at 10% concentration (see right), which is roughly four times the concentration used for the face. A higher concentration is required because the skin on your back is generally a lot thicker than the skin on your face, and you are also not massaging it in as much. Nevertheless, those of you who have sensitive skin may find that the body wash dries out your skin too much. In which case, I would use a lower concentration or use half a finger's length worth of body wash. A 5% version of the PanOxyl Acne Wash is available in soap bar form (see right). I personally have never had an issue with dry skin on my back and have never required any moisturizer.
Before I conclude, I would like to say this regimen has changed my life completely. My back is now almost clear of acne. I may get the odd outbreak (maybe once a month) but 98% of the time I am free of this dreaded skin condition. More importantly, my confidence in body image has returned.
If you suffer from bad backne and have tried other methods with no success, why not give my regimen a try?
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