When most of us think of acne breakouts, the first thing that likely comes to mind is those painful red blemishes that tend to pop up on our faces. However, while it’s true that facial acne can be a common and embarrassing issue, breakouts aren’t limited to just there.
We can also get zits on other parts of the body, too, like on our backs. In many ways, these types of breakouts can be even more frustrating, as they can seem harder to treat than the conventional blemishes on our faces. After all, it’s not like we can do a whole ten-step beauty routine on our backs, right?
Back acne – also known as “bacne” – can definitely be annoying, and it’s understandable to want to get rid of it quickly if you do have blemishes there. While this problem can be stressful all year ‘round, it can be especially bothersome in the warmer months, when we’re not hiding under layers of scarves and sweaters.
If you’ve been struggling with bacne, we know exactly how you feel. They can be painful, unsightly, and embarrassing. Fortunately, knowing how to get rid of back acne is much easier than you may have initially realized, and we’re here today to help you get rid of them for good!
What Causes Back Acne?
So, what exactly caused the back acne that you’re currently dealing with? At the risk of coming across as slightly pedantic, the biggest trigger for bacne is not unlike what causes your facial breakouts: clogged pores.
Of course, that’s somewhat of an oversimplification. It’s a common misconception that only the face has pores that can get clogged, but the fact is, this can also totally happen on your back, too. But what’s causing bacteria and sebum (the real culprits here, friends) to get trapped and lead to bacne?
There are, in fact, quite a few things that can cause your back acne. These include:
- Your hormones. Believe it or not, but your hormones are often the number one culprit when it comes to acne – and bacne – breakouts. Elevated androgen levels can lead to increased sebum production and hyperkeratinization (that is, your skin cells becoming super clumpy), causing acne. (1)
- Your genetics. We’re not trying to pin the blame on your parents or grandparents here, but if they had acne, then there’s a good chance that you inherited it from them. Like most medical conditions (and yes, acne is a bona fide medical condition), there’s a heritable component to it. (2)
- Your medications. Certain medications (like lithium and prednisone, for instance) can trigger acne. Of course, if you’re planning on switching up or stopping any prescription medications, always talk to your doctor first. (3)
- Your mood. If you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, this can raise your cortisol levels. In turn, you can find yourself dealing with an increase in unwanted acne breakouts as a result. (4)
- Your diet. Certain foods (such as sugar and dairy) have been shown to cause acne. Cutting these foods out, however, can prevent the systemic inflammation that’s triggering it and allow you to enjoy clear skin once more. (5)
- Your lifestyle. Regular exercise can do wonders for both your physique and your mental health, but it can also do a number on your complexion, too. If you don’t rinse off that sweat and grime immediately after, then it can lead to a host of acne breakouts on your back.
- A potential parasite infection. If you’re dealing with back breakouts, especially the more angry, cystic, under-the-skin type, this can often be connected to an internal issue with parasites. Parasites can wreak havoc on organs like the gut and liver, which can lead to bad breakouts on the back. (13)
Now that we know what could be the cause of your breakouts, let’s explore how to get rid of back acne naturally, once and for all. The good news is that you don’t have to use harsh medications or questionable treatments for it, and there are many natural treatments for back acne that will send them running for the hills in no time.
Natural Treatments for Back Acne
Tired of fighting your bacne, and you’re looking for a natural treatment for it? Look no further, friends. We’ve hand-selected some proven tips and tricks to help you get clear, smooth skin on your back, without needing to resort to extreme measures or scary chemicals.
Tip #1: Switch Up Your Wardrobe
While we know that acne is a chronic skin condition caused by a myriad of factors, it’s still important to not overlook other things that could be triggering it. For instance, your clothes may actually be causing your issues.
Yes, that cute bodycon top may make you look like a million bucks whenever you put it on, it could also be causing unwanted chafing and rubbing on your skin. Combine that with synthetic fabrics (such as polyester and nylon), which are so totally not breathable, and you’re all but asking for breakouts. (6)
Instead, reach for clothes that are more breathable and are made from all-natural fabrics. Linen, cotton, and silk are great for summer, while cashmere and wool are fantastic options for the wintertime. Make sure you choose clothes with good drape, too, to avoid friction and any subsequent blemishes.
PRO TIP: If you like to work out regularly, these guidelines also extend to your fitness wardrobe. Just make sure you choose sweat-wicking clothes, and wash them after every use to get rid of any trapped bacteria and other ickiness that may have accumulated during exercise. And make sure to use laundry detergent that is free of scents and dyes on all your clothing! (7)
Tip #2: Enjoy a Warm Shower
We already kinda touched on this in our previous point, but if you live in a hot climate or exercise regularly, it’s possible that your back is going to be coated in a layer of sweat, bacteria, and other nasties on the regular. The solution? A nice, warm shower to rinse all of it off.
Please note that we said warm shower here, and not a scalding hot one. Excessively hot water can actually backfire and irritate your skin more, leading to even more blemishes in turn. Also, be sure to rinse off any conditioner from your back that may have trickled down when you washed your hair, as it could be clogging your pores. (8 & 9)
(By the way, we wanted to take this time to remind you that we know your acne isn’t your fault and you’re “dirty” or “gross” for having it. That said, while acne isn’t necessarily caused by bad hygiene, it doesn’t change the fact that washing off bacteria and dead skin and sebum will work wonders on keeping your skin clear.)
Tip #3: Keep Your Hair Off Your Back
If you’ve got long, luscious locks, then it’s totally understandable to want to show them off. Gels, creams, oils, and serums can help make them look shiny and glossy, but they can also transfer onto your back if you wear your hair down.
If you’re going to reach for hair products, try to keep your hair off your back. If not, that’s also totally fine and up to you, and we’re not here to judge at all. Just be sure to wash your back before you go to bed at night to get rid of any residual product that could be leading to your breakouts.
Not sure what ingredients can be breaking you out? No worries, and we don’t expect you to memorize everything and know it off the top of your head! Just have our pore-clogging ingredient list on hand next time you go shopping and cross-reference before making a purchase.
Tip #4: Switch Up Your Diet
We kinda already talked about the link between diet and acne, but it’s worth mentioning it here again. The fact is, certain foods have been proven to cause breakouts, and taking them out of your diet can only wind up benefiting you. If you’re looking to figure out how to get rid of back acne, then a dietary overhaul may be necessary. (5)
Our advice here? If you’ve been struggling with acne breakouts and nothing else seems to be helping, try to cut out the processed junk from your diet. Now, this isn’t us telling you to go super strict with your eating, either. But the 80/20 rule plays a huge role here.
Try to fill up your plate with eighty percent good stuff, and allow a little wiggle room (that is, the twenty percent) of “fun” foods. In doing so, you’ll be able to reduce your body’s inflammation and send those breakouts packing.
Tip #5: Build Up a Skincare Routine
Okay, fine, we’ll be the first to admit that a ten-step beauty regimen can be a bit unwieldy for those of you who are struggling with bacne. That’s not to say that it won’t help or that it’s entirely impractical, but we do understand that not everyone has the luxury of time to clean both their faces and their backs every single night.
But here’s what you can do: create yourself a nice little skincare routine to help yourself combat both your facial and your back acne. Start in the shower with some cleansing, using a gentle acne-safe scrub cleanser. Remember to rinse off all product from your back, though, so nothing can linger to clog your pores.
When you get out of the shower, feel free to slather a layer of lotion on your body and back. You’ll want to use a good body lotion for acne-prone skin. If this doesn’t help, though, you may need to bring out the big guns.
Yes, we’re talking about exfoliation here. Manual exfoliation is great for sloughing off dead skin and trapped sebum, but chemical exfoliation is going to be the real trick to getting rid of your acne. An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), such as a mandelic acid serum, will help penetrate deeply into your skin to unclog your pores. (11)
We recommend using it a couple of times a week at first, as your skin will need to acclimate to it. Once it’s used to it, feel free to titrate it up to every other night, or even nightly (if your skin can tolerate it). Trust us, acne won’t stand a chance against this routine, and you’ll have smooth, bacne-free skin before you know it.
When to Consider Stronger Medications
We’re huge advocates of taking a natural approach to beauty and skincare, and we’re not afraid to admit it. That said, we also recognize that not everyone’s acne is going to just up and go away by introducing OTC (over-the-counter) serums and a holistic approach.
Sometimes a trip to your dermatologist is going to be necessary to help you get clear skin. If your breakouts are:
- Persistent, even with OTC treatment
- Nodular (that is, cystic acne)
- Causing scarring
- Leading to infections
- Or giving you severe emotional distress
Then we strongly encourage you to speak to your healthcare provider about it. They can prescribe the right course of treatment to help you get rid of your blemishes. A combination of topicals or oral medication may be just the ticket to clear skin.
And remember, having acne is nothing to be ashamed of, and you should not feel bad for asking for professional help to treat it. After all, that’s what doctors are there for! But keep in mind that medications are no replacement for self-care, and you’ll still want to maintain good habits even after your skin gets clear.
How to Get Rid of Back Acne Scars Naturally
When it comes to scars, some people are going to get some pretty serious ones, and some people may wind up emerging entirely unscathed from their back acne. If you fall into the camp of people who did wind up getting bacne scars, you have a few options for treatment.
- Alpha hydroxy acids. We’ve already plugged the benefits of using an AHA to unclog your pores, but they also work wonders on existing scars. Because they help improve cellular turnover and exfoliate your skin, you can count on a noticeable reduction in the appearance of any existing scar tissue. (11)
- Lactic acid. We’ve sung the praises of lactic acid for skincare before, and we’re going to repeat it here, too. Studies have shown that treatment with this gentle exfoliant can also help minimize any visible scars. Hey, if it’s good enough for Cleopatra, it’s good enough for us, too!
- Chemical peels. Okay, this one comes with a disclaimer, but we strongly advise that you don’t try these at home. However, in the office of your trusted dermatologist, you’d be amazed at what a targeted chemical peel can do for both raised (hypertrophic) and indented (atrophic) scars.
- Mineral sunscreen. You might be surprised to learn that using sunscreen is also one of the best ways you can treat your bacne scars. The sun’s UV rays can actually exacerbate and worsen any existing hyperpigmentation, but a good mineral sunscreen can help ward it off.
Yes, having residual scarring can take a toll on your self-esteem. However, please know that having these scars doesn’t make you any less valuable as a person, and you’re still just as worthy and beautiful even with them. But knowing how to get rid of back acne scars naturally can help restore your confidence, allowing you to feel good about your skin once more.
Having acne can definitely be a bummer, especially if you feel like you’ve done literally everything to get rid of them, yet they still somehow manage to persist. It can be even doubly so if you’re dealing with them on your back and just want to reach into your closet without hesitation or wondering if it’ll show off too much of your breakouts.
Fortunately, bacne doesn’t have to be a lifelong condition, as long as you’re armed with the right tools to help you combat them. By taking a multipronged approach to learning how to get rid of back acne, you can help minimize any lasting damage – and totally rock whatever cute outfits that your heart desires, without any shame or embarrassment over the appearance of your skin!
Source 1: Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015761/
Source 2: Gene variants associated with acne vulgaris presentation and severity: a systematic review and meta-analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8045239/
Source 3: Drug-induced acne and rose pearl: similarities https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900370/
Source 4: The Impact of Pyschological Stress on Acne https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28871928/
Source 5: Diet and acne: A systematic review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8971946/
Source 6: Is sports equipment causing your acne? https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/sports-equipment
Source 7: Is your workout causing your acne? https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/workouts
Source 8: Impact of Water Exposure and Temperature Changes on Skin Barrier Function https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8778033/
Source 9: Efficacy of a Non-Comedogenic Hair Care Regimen for the Reduction of Mild-to-Moderate Truncal and Facial Acne: A Single-Arm 8-Week Study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34076395/
Source 10: Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6017965/
Source 11: Making an epidermis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861991/
Source 12: Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529263/
Source 13: A meta-analysis of association between acne ulgaris and Demodex infestation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296070/