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Acne on Back: Causes, Prevention, Remedies and Treatments

Updated on November 15, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John uses Biochemistry and Physiology (PhD) skills to review health topics, disease prevention, home remedies for ailments & better health

I recently had a bad bout of back acne and found it very hard to treat and eliminate.

I have made a very detail review of the causes and prevention of Acne on the Back which has helped me prevent its recurrence.

You may also find the information useful if you have acne on the back.

What is Back Acne?

Acne on the back can take many different forms, including pimples, zits, blackheads, pustules, and in the worst case various form of nodular cysts.

It can occur in a wide range of people of all skin types and can affect people as young as 10 years and as old as 40 and sometimes older.

Back acne can occur all over the back and can also occur on the buttocks and shoulders of some older and younger people.

In its severest form the lesions can be large and painful and you should consult your doctors early to prevent a serious condition developing.

As with most forms of acne, the causes of back acne may be many and varied and there may be multiple cause and contributing factors involved.

You may have to try various things to see what works for you.

This was certainly my experience and the experience of my two teenage sons.

Causes of Back Acne

Like other forms of acne, there is no one particular factor causing back acne.

Basic cause of all acne

Acne is triggered in the when sebaceous glands surrounding hair follicles become clogged and infected with bacteria. The glands really start to pump around the time of puberty. The various male hormones that are boosted at this time cause the sebaceous glands to make extra amounts of sebum, which is cystic acne will require professional medical attention.
Back acne can be hard to treat because the skin is thicker and there are more sebaceous glands in this area than elsewhere on your body. However the skin is thicker and tougher treatments can be applied. Some of the general treatments are:

  • Exfoliate - weekly or every few days to remove dead skin cells. You can try various types such as loofahs, washcloths and brushes. If you want to use a scrub, employ a sugar-based scrub first. The salt based scrubs are harder on your skin. Reduce the exfoliate treatments if you notice any bad reactions or redness.
  • For milder versions of acne a topical treatment of 10 % benzoyl peroxide gel or cream will often be effective. Simply apply the cream onto the back in the evening and allow it to dry.
  • For more severe cases wash the back with Cetaphil or one of the other anti-bacterial cleansers. Don't use regular soap. Dry the skin thoroughly. If necessary you can follow-up with a 10 percent benzoyl peroxide gel or cream. Some people suggest using the benzoyl peroxide together with an alpha hydroxy treatment.

There are several natural treatment options that work well for many people:

  • Tea Tree Oil derived from an in Australian shrub has anti-bacterial properties and is relatively mild on the skin
  • Apple cider vinegar can also help as it kills bacteria, and can also remove oils. Try a lotion of 1:8 vinegar to water. Apply directly to your back. You can increase the strength of the mixture, but watch for any irritation of the skin.

How to Prevent Back Acne

  • Exfoliation is a great way to prevent back acne re-occurring
  • Back acne is common among athletes. If you are working out and sweating a lot during exercise, make sure you wash your back thoroughly when you have finished. Always change out of your sweaty shirt and use clean clothes that are not going to irritate your skin. Change your shirt twice a day to prevent bacteria from building up.
  • Washing your back daily using a brush, sponge, loofah or exfoliant to help eleminate any build-up of dead skin cells on the skin that may clog up pores. Make sure that you thoroughly dry your back after washing.
  • Avoid wearing tight fitting clothing that may cause chaffing or irritate the skin. Heavy back packs and shoulder bags can also aggravate your acne.
  • If you are going out in the sun, make sure you apply an oil-free sunscreen.
  • Beware of bleaching - Many of the acne medications contain benzoyl peroxide, which bleaches fabric, so it is a good idea to wear white or clothes that are bleach resistant when treating your acne.
  • Be meticulous in keep your fabrics clean - this applies to towels, bedsheets, pillowcases, t-shirts and bras as well as your other clothes. Unclean clothes spreads bacteria. You may need to change your laundry detergent and use hot water.

Factors Contributing to Acne that Should be Avoided

  • Avoid Stress
  • Avoid Humidity and sweat
  • Cosmetics or skin products can clog skin pores. This applies to some moisturizers, pomades, sunscreens and foundation creams. Look to products that won't aggregate you acne or increase the risk of developing it.
  • Avoid foods that seem to aggravate your acne.

© janderson99-HubPages


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  • andrewwilliams63 profile image

    andrewwilliams63 6 years ago

    Interesting article, thank you. I personally find that a zinc supplement is very useful.