Dealing with acne on your face can be frustrating enough, but what do you do when your back is also covered with bumps? While makeup can cover up facial blemishes, dealing with back acne is more difficult as this condition can make you feel uncomfortable and turn wearing dresses and tank tops into a real struggle. Fortunately, Dr. Sara Saeed, top dermatologist in Riyadh, offers helpful tips on how to treat and prevent acne breakouts on the back.
What causes back acne breakouts?
There are many reasons why people get acne, so it’s important to know why and how pimples form.
Your body produces an oil called sebum. It is produced in the glands connected to your hair follicles. The sebum travels up the hair follicles to moisturize the skin and hair. According to Dr. Sara Saeed, back acne usually occurs when excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells build up in the pores, causing redness, inflammation, and blemishes.
Here are some common causes of acne:
- Genetics. Acne problems can be hereditary.
- Medications. Acne can be a side effect of certain medications, such as some antidepressants.
- Hormones. Hormonal changes during adolescence are often the cause of acne. But for women past puberty, pimple outbreaks can be related to hormonal changes that occur during menstruation and pregnancy.
- Sweat. Sweat, particularly if it’s trapped under close-fitting clothing, can make acne worse.
- Stress. Stress is not a direct cause of acne, but it can contribute to it.
Some research shows that the foods you eat can be linked to acne. Dr. Sara Saeed says that foods high in fat, sugar, and dairy can increase the occurence of acne, as can chocolate milk, french fries, and sugary drinks.
How to get rid of back acne?
In most cases, you can get rid of acne by changing your lifestyle and adopting a proper skin care routine that can help reduce breakouts on your back, resulting in clearer, healthier-looking skin. Here are some steps you can take to get rid of zits on your back:
- Wash your skin regularly
Cleansers should be suitable for acne-prone skin. Therefore, choose cleansers that say “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free” on the package to avoid clogging your pores. Stay away from antibacterial soaps, astringents, and abrasive scrubs that can make your acne worse. Plus, be gentle when you cleanse your skin.
Cleansers should contain ingredients that prevent dead skin cells from building up and clogging pores.
Check out these back acne cleansers that will help you get rid of embarrassing acne and prevent it in the future.
Cleanance Cleansing Gel from Eau Thermale Avène
Phys-AC Foaming Gel from A-Derma
Keracnyl Foaming Gel from Ducray
- Take a shower after a workout
Leaving sweat and dirt on your skin after a workout can be a major factor in back acne. Take a shower as soon as you can after a workout. You should also wash those sweaty workout clothes between sessions.
- Use a topical treatment instead of picking
As tempting as it may be, try to avoid scratching when it comes to body acne.
Whatever you do, don’t scratch, squeeze or pick at your pimples, as this can lead to infection and scarring. Instead, apply benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid gel to juicy pimples.
Scratching almost always results in pigmentation, which is difficult to get rid of.
Benzoyl peroxide creams kill acne-causing bacteria, but they tend to dry out the skin.
Use a gentle scrub containing ingredients such as salicylic acid to remove dirt and oils from your skin. This can help reduce the amount of dead skin that can clog pores.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
Your workout habits can irritate the zits on your back. For example, tight clothing can trap dirt and sweat and cause it to get into your pores. Working out without a shirt against a sweaty gym machine or on a dirty floor can also be problematic.
Opt for loose-fitting clothing that lets your skin breathe and helps wick away sweat.
- Keep your hair off your back
Long hair can add oil and dirt to the skin on your back, causing acne breakouts. Shampoo your hair regularly, and put it in a bun or ponytail during sweat sessions.
Also, don’t let conditioner or shampoo run down your back. The ingredients in these products can contribute to clogged pores.
- Choose your sunscreen carefully
It’s important to protect your skin from the sun, especially if you expose your bare back. But greasy sunscreens can also contribute to clogged pores. Make sure to choose oil-free products.
- Eat healthy
An unhealthy diet can affect our bodies in many ways. If you are prone to acne, certain foods can be triggers.
It’s a good idea to follow a healthy, balanced diet with lots of:
- lean protein
- whole grains
Does back acne go away? Dr. Sara Saeed notes that back acne is treatable and most people can be relieved with home treatments. However, if your acne is severe or the pimples are very large, you may need to see a doctor.
How to prevent back acne?
You can’t always control the development of back acne, because the main factors that lead to “bacne” – hormonal fluctuations and genetics – are beyond your control.
However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing these lesions. Dr. Sara Saeed advises limiting the use of oil-based skin care products, eliminating pressure on the back, and wearing clean clothes.
- Limit the use of oil-based skin care products
Try not to use skin care products containing oil, including moisturizers and cosmetics, on your back. These products can cause acne breakouts on your back. Also look for non-comedogenic products, which means they don’t clog pores.
- Relieve pressure on your back
Anything that causes increased sweating and friction on the back, such as backpacks and sports equipment, can cause zits on your back.
If you wear sports equipment (such as shoulder pads) that puts pressure on your back, don’t wear it for too long or wear a clean cotton T-shirt underneath to reduce prolonged pressure and friction.
- Wear clean clothes
Dirty clothes can carry sweat, oil, and dirt, which further irritates the skin and contributes to the development of acne. It is always best to wear loose clothing while exercising and remove sweaty clothing after exercise.
It is also possible to avoid certain medications such as androgens (male hormones) and lithium, which are known to increase the risk of developing acne. If you are taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor about alternative treatments.
What are the potential complications of ‘bacne’?
Like other forms of acne, back acne can lead to complications. Dr. Sara Saeed indicates that physical complications include scarring and changes in skin color, such as darkening of the skin. In nodular or cystic back acne, scars can be pitted or raised and thick.
Bacne can also cause emotional scarring and contribute to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Some people may feel embarrassed or self-conscious about their condition, which can lead to poor self-esteem. Controlling back acne outbreaks and treating physical scars often heals emotional scars. If you are struggling with this condition, don’t delay seeing a dermatologist. Effective treatment is available.