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Back Acne; the What and How to Treat

Back acne, sometimes referred to as bacne, is quite common for people who suffer from acne.  Although acne is common between males and females, body acne is most common in males.  Acne normally starts to affect the face and can sometimes then spread to other areas of the body.  However, with body (back) acne, it almost always results in facial acne as well.

What Causes Acne?

Back and facial acne are synonymous and are stimulated by the exact same irritants.  The 3 major factors that contribute to the formation of acne are: (1) overactive oil glands, (2) dead skin cells, and (3) the proliferation of bacteria.  Dead skin and oil become trapped in a pore which is referred to as a blackhead.  If the blackhead is invaded by acne causing bacteria, a pimple is formed.

Irritants that exacerbate the risk of back acne include the friction of clothing, pressure, and sweating.  One of the most common ways adolescents get back acne is from the daily use of backpacks which causes friction and pressure among a large surface of skin.

Hormones also play a vital role in the formation of back acne.  During puberty, there is an increase in the production of androgens which stimulates sebaceous glands that produce sebum (the oil that coats our skin).    The over production of sebum during puberty causes an increased risk for blocking pores on the skins surface, thus forming blackheads that may turn into pimples.  This is most common in males as they produce greater amounts of androgens than women.

Treatments for “Bacne”

  • Wear loose fitting clothing
  • Instead of a backpack, use a handled bag
  • Maintain good hygiene
  • Creams or lotions containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or sulphur – these are all drying agents which help unplug pores
  • For women – the prescription of birth control to reduce the amount of androgens.
  • Serious acne (which results in scaring) may require antibiotics that can be prescribed by your general physician

The Do’s and Don’ts of Back and Body Acne

DO…

–          Pat your skin dry after a shower, not rub

–          Use a fresh washcloth everyday

–          Wash off sweat or oil immediately

–          Shampoo hair at least 3 times a week

DON’T…

–          Pick or squeeze pimples

–          Scrub vigorously while washing

–          Remove blackheads

Back acne or bacne is treatable so do not fret.  By maintaining hygiene through daily showers and after exercise, one can be sure to minimize their risk of developing back acne.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

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