How to Get Rid of Bacne for Good

Dermatologists reveal their best tips for treating and preventing stubborn back acne.

If you're wondering how to get rid of bacne, you're not alone. Although it may not be as conspicuous as, say, the giant zit that's about to erupt on your nose, acne on your back is a common struggle.

In fact, anyone can experience bacne (although certain factors may make you more prone — more on those ahead). And while clothes and/ or makeup can cover up back breakouts, concealing them isn't going to solve the problem.

To find out how to banish back acne for good, we turned to two dermatologists. Read on to hear what skincare experts have to say about how to get rid of bacne, plus how you might be able to prevent it in the first place.

What causes back acne?

Bare back of person with Bantu knots
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Bacne, or acne on your back, is not all that different from acne on your T-zone. "There are different kinds of back acne, exactly the same as the face. Whiteheads, blackheads, and cystic acne," Morgan Rabach, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at LM Medical NYC, tells us.

These breakouts on your back can happen regardless of your skin type. However, Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Mariwalla Dermatology, says that it's more common in teens and in more active adults. "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."

How to Prevent Bacne

Showering daily and immediately after working out and avoiding the use of harsh products (like apple cider vinegar) on your skin is key to keeping bacne at bay. Still, if you find yourself dealing with a bacne flareup despite having practiced good hygiene and following the proper skincare routine, don't blame yourself.

"Some people are predisposed to [bacne] 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. Her advice? Wear loose clothing and non-compressive garments. And in case you can't immediately shower post-workout, using a cleansing wipe like DRMTLGY Body and Face Shower Wipes will do the trick.

How to Get Rid of 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.

"Back skin is much thicker than facial skin and therefore many topical treatments are not as effective on back skin because topicals can only permeate so far," explains Dr. Rabach. Ergo, back acne tends to be more difficult to control, adds Dr. Mariwalla. So to stop bacne in its tracks, our experts let us in on their best tips and tricks:

At-Home Remedies

  • Use products with acne-fighting ingredients: Dr. Mariwalla recommends using a benzoyl peroxide-based body wash like PanOxyl, which will unclog pores and treat existing blemishes. Just keep in mind that BP can stain/bleach, warns Dr. Rabach. It's best to consult your derm before using.
  • Apply a spot treatment: At night, spot-treat pimples with Differin Gel, 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)," instructs Dr. Mariwalla.
  • Remember to exfoliate: When done correctly, exfoliation can do wonders for the skin, from getting rid of dullness to fighting acne. Dr. Rabach suggests using a chemical exfoliant, such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid, or an at-home peel to treat bacne-prone skin.
  • Invest in topicals: Antibiotics and retinols can also help to get rid of back acne, confirms Dr. Rabach. This may be due to retinoids' anti-inflammatory and comedolytic properties.
  • Take an oral treatment: If your bacne is the result of hormones, oral antibiotics, birth control, spironolactone, or Accutane may be an effective treatment, notes Dr. Rabach. That's because hormone therapy can inhibit the effects of androgen hormones, which overstimulate sebum production.

In-Office Treatments

  • Get a chemical peel: You may have heard that chemical peels are the secret to a smooth, glowy complexion, but did you also know that they can banish back acne? For best results, Dr. Rabach recommends getting your chemical peel done by a skincare pro.
  • Try laser therapy: Aviclear is a type of laser that reduces sebaceous gland activity. And when it comes to treating bacne, this method gets Dr. Rabach's seal of approval.
  • Consider microneedling: For those seeking a breakout-free back, Dr. Rabach says microneedling (aka dermaplaning) might be the answer. It works by puncturing the dermis with tiny needles to promote collagen production and rejuvenate the skin.

When to See a Professional

If you often have 10 or more back pimples at a time, Dr. Mariwalla advises visiting a trusted skincare professional. "Going to a board-certified dermatologist is really important," she emphasizes. "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." Your doctor will be able to diagnose your skin concern (i.e. confirm whether it's bacne and not yeast or bacterial folliculitis) and suggest the best treatment for you.

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  1. Leyden J, Stein-Gold L, Weiss J. "Why topical retinoids are mainstay of therapy for acne." Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017.

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