What causes stubborn back acne and how to get rid of it.
Bacne is a common struggle, but it isn't really talked about openly. Frankly, it doesn't matter how severe the breakout is, the mere presence of bacne can be embarrassing. Sure, clothes or makeup can cover up back breakouts, but concealing them isn't going to solve the problem.
The silver lining is that, just like the pimples you get on your face, you can treat and prevent bacne at home.
Read on to find out why back breakouts happen, how to get rid of back acne, and what you can do to prevent it in the first place.
WHAT CAUSES BACNE?
"Back acne can be due to hormonal changes, but is often exacerbated by sweat, which can increase certain bacterial populations on the skin and predispose it to more acne," says Kavita Mariwalla, dermatologist and founder of Mariwalla Dermatology in West Islp, N.Y.
Other factors that Dr. Mariwalla says can cause back acne include: not showering daily, not showering immediately after working out, using harsh products (like apple cider vinegar), and using an anti-acne routine for only a few days (compliance is king for acne treatment!).
WHO'S PRONE TO BACNE?
Anyone can breakout on their back, but Dr. Mariwalla says that it's common in teens (because of hormone surges) and in more active adults. "Back skin is thicker than the face and more difficult to penetrate with topical treatments alone, so back acne tends to be more difficult to control," she explains.
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WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT BACNE?
One of the biggest misconceptions about bacne is that it can be treated the same way as the blemishes you get on your face. "In my experience, body acne is more stubborn and people don't realize that just doing a shower rinse is not enough," says Dr. Mariwalla.
HOW SHOULD BACNE BE TREATED?
Dr. Mariwalla recommends using a benzoyl peroxide-based body wash like PanOxyl ($10; target.com), which will unclog pores and treat existing blemishes. If you can't immediately shower post-workout, a cleansing wipe like SkinFix's ($11; ulta.com) will do the trick.
At night, she says to spot treat pimples with Differin gel ($30; target.com), an over-the-counter acne treatment. "I recommend applying a pea-size amount for every hand you can cover in terms of surface area (in other words, an area like your chest would get two pea sizes)," she says.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A DERMATOLOGIST?
If you often have 10 or more back pimples at a time, Dr. Mariwalla recommends visiting a dermatologist. The doctor will determine that what you're experiencing is, in fact, bacne and not yeast or bacterial folliculitis, and will prescribe a skincare routine to follow. "Going to a board-certified dermatologist is really important," she says. "Many people claim to be experts at treating acne and body acne, but it can sometimes be quite tricky, so I recommend going to someone who really knows what they are doing."
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT BACNE?
Good shower habits and topical acne-fighting products are key to preventing bacne, but some people are simply more prone to breaking out than others. "Some people are pre-disposed to it and there is little they can do to 'prevent' its onset, but once it starts you can certainly do things to make sure it stays away," says Dr. Mariwalla. She suggests wearing loose clothing and non-compressive garments.