Have you ever hesitated to wear that backless dress, or covered your back up with a towel at the beach in hopes of hiding your back acne? Unfortunately, back acne—or as it’s sometimes so fondly called: bacne—is very common and can also be pretty embarrassing. However, there are certain steps you can take in your skin care routine to help manage back acne. If you’ve started noticing more blemishes and breakouts on your back lately, keep reading for our advice on how to best take care of your skin and manage back acne.
WHAT IS BACK ACNE?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Back acne is simply acne that’s located on your back—upper or lower—rather than on your face. Unfortunately, it turns out that acne can appear pretty much anywhere on the body. The AAD lists the back, face, neck, chest, shoulders, and upper arms among the most common locations for acne. It can also come in many different forms including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, and even painful cysts. Yikes! So basically, acne can happen in a lot of places in many different forms. Although back acne and acne in general are most common during one’s teenage years, it’s a skin condition that can occur at any age, according to the Mayo Clinic. Acne blemishes occur when hair follicles become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells (which is one reason we constantly preach about exfoliation!). If you have acne anywhere on your body, you already know that blemishes can also be quite persistent at returning time and time again.
HOW TO MANAGE BACK ACNE
Now after all of that unpleasant news, here’s some good news: It’s possible to clear up back acne at home, according to the AAD. There are over-the-counter treatments, like benzoyl peroxide foam washes, that the AAD says can be effective for back acne.
If you aren’t able to manage your back acne on your own, you don’t have to say goodbye to baring your back. For those with deep, painful acne on their backs, the AAD says you won’t be able to clear up your skin at home, instead you’ll want to seek a dermatologist’s help. Whether you’re treating your acne on your own or with the help of a derm, the AAD shares you’ll need to pair your treatment plan with acne-friendly skin care. Here are four tips for making your routine back acne-friendly.
TIP #1: CLEANSE GENTLY
As good as it can feel to scrub your back, this can actually worsen acne, according to the AAD. Skip body scrubs and exfoliating tools like dry brushes. Instead, use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser formulated for acne-prone skin when washing your back.
TIP #2: STICK WITH OIL-FREE PRODUCTS
When picking out products for your acne-friendly regimen, the AAD suggests looking for ones that read “non-comedogenic,” “non-acnegenic,” “won’t clog pores,” or “oil-free” on the packaging.
Editor’s note: Need help finding products that fit the bill? We recommend our favorite non-comedogenic products in our article, What Does Non-Comedogenic Mean, Plus Our Best Non-Comedogenic Products.
TIP #2: WEAR LOOSE CLOTHING WHEN YOU EXERCISE
That’s right, how you workout can impact your back acne, too! The AAD recommends that whenever you plan to work up a sweat, you wear loose-fitting clothes made of cotton or sweat-wicking material. Additionally, make sure to shower as soon as you can after your workout, or use an oil-free cleansing wipe to wipe off sweat.
TIP #4: AVOID PICKING AT OR TOUCHING YOUR ACNE
This last tip is crucial! Even though it might feel satisfying to pick at or pop your blemishes, don’t do it! Never, even if your hands are clean. As the AAD says, this will only worsen your acne, so it’s always best to take a hands-off approach. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier to avoid touching your back than it is your face!
Next up: Your acne education continues. Read our article Can You Get Rid of Acne Scars? for information on what to do if you’re faced with scarring after your blemishes clear up.