Have you been experiencing pimples and acne on the back? They sometimes come with face acne, but not always. Learning what may be causing these lesions and how you can handle them is vital in handling bacne. The causes may not be what you’re thinking! For example, have you considered changing your hair conditioner? More on that below, together with other tips and the best products for bacne.
On this post:
- What is bacne?
- What causes back pimples?
- How can you get rid of acne on your back?
- The best products for bacne
What is bacne?
Bacne is shot for back acne, meaning pimples, papules and/or cysts on your shoulders and back. Sometimes, they can also appear on the chest. If a pimple appears on your back once, we can hardly call it acne, but if your breakouts become frequent, then you might be facing this inflammatory disease in that area. As happens with your face, back acne shows up because human bodies have certain areas with more active sebaceous glands (the ones that produce oil/sebum). The back and shoulders are definitely some of those overactive areas when it comes to sebum. If you suffer from acne, there are a few things you can expect: inflammation, redness, and skin lesions that may lead to scarring.
What causes back pimples?
Acne is a multifactorial inflammatory disease. It can be triggered by a variety of things—so don’t be too quick to attribute your back pimples to a lack of proper hygiene, as some people seem to believe. Here are some things that may be triggering your breakouts:
- Hormonal changes: by now you probably know that hormones can disrupt pretty much everything. Hormonal acne is pretty common in your teen years, but also throughout adulthood. One time a lot of people experience back acne is when they’ve been on the contraceptive pill for a few years and then stop;
- Incorrect skincare and/or haircare: anything that touches your skin can disrupt it, if it’s the wrong product for you. You may be thinking “I don’t even put anything on my shoulders or back”. However, yes you do, especially if you have long hair. Besides the obvious culprit that is your shower gel, hair conditioners are known to cause many, many acne breakouts on the back and shoulders;
- Stress: here’s another trigger that can disrupt pretty much everything. If you’ve been going through stressful times, it can manifest as acne lesions;
- Friction: we’ve all learned from the pandemic that there is such a thing as acne mechanica—,or, in other words, acne caused by friction. Just like friction from masks can cause acne on the face, friction from backpacks or shoulder bags can cause acne on the shoulders and back;
- Medication: some meds can trigger acne breakouts. If you’re experiencing those as a side effect, check with your doctor;
- Incorrect hygiene habits: even though this is far from being the main cause of back acne, it can be a part of it. And we’re not just talking about washing your skin. Greasy hair can make bacne worse, as can your clothes and sheets if they’re not changed frequently.
How can you get rid of acne on your back?
It’s not always easy to handle back acne, but there are definitely some things you may want to change to see if it improves. Here are our main recommendations:
- Change your skincare and haircare: start with the main culprits (shower gel and hair conditioner) and try to change things up a bit. Besides changing them, always make sure that you wash your back and shoulders after you’ve rinsed our your hair conditioner. This will make sure you remove any residue that may have been left behind;
- Reduce friction: even if your acne isn’t caused by friction, friction can still aggravate lesions and make you more prone to scarring. Ideally, using a backpack or a cross-body bag is a big no. So, if you really need to use one, make sure it’s as comfortable as it can be—padded shoulder protections and wide straps usually help. Always choose soft materials that won’t scratch the lesions and are easy to wash at higher temperatures;
- Don’t pick your lesions: avoiding scarring is extremely important, so picking at the lesions is a big no. Picking at pimples will not only increase inflammation but also create an open wound that will need extra time to heal;
- Avoid tanning and wear sunscreen: even though popular knowledge says that the sun improves acne, this is a myth. In fact, it worsens it in the long run, because the sun will make your skin “hide” the lesions, only to show up at full speed in the Autumn—and worse than ever. Besides this, healing wounds should never get direct sunlight, as this tends to create pigmented scars;
- Consult with your doctor: if you have cysts or papules, make sure to check with your doctor, as you may need meds to treat them.
The best products for bacne
Here are the three pillars of good bacne skincare: a great bacne cleanser, a treatment spray, and your favorite sunscreen. Here are the ones that our customers have been loving and have gained the seal of approval of our specialists:
CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser Bumpy Skin
The affordable cleanser for bacne
Inexpensive and affordable products are just what we love. This CeraVe almost needs no introduction—it has salicylic acid and helps to improve skin texture and reduce blemishes. TikTok users have fallen in love with it for good reason and, honestly, we just need the brand to make bigger bottles of this.
Sesderma Azelac Lotion for Face, Body and Hair
The spray-on lotion with azelaic acid
For those who experience extreme redness, azelaic acid may be a great option. This lotion is easy to apply and gently helps to both control sebum production and soothe the skin. Moreover, it also includes salicylic acid for a double take on acne lesions.
Biretix Tri-Active Spray Anti-Blemish
The practical retinol for bacne
If you’ve ever thought “well, retinol works for acne on my face, should I try it on my back?” the answer is a definite YES. Ideally, choose a product that has been developed specifically for the back. This spray has a triple action in fighting acne, by combining a retinol patent with peptides and salicylic acid.
Sesderma Salises Foamy Soap-Free Cream Acne-Prone Skin
The salicylic acid cleanser
This Sesderma cleanser has been doing rounds for many years, always with consistent results. For some people, all it takes is getting a great cleanser. Just remember to leave it on your skin for a few minutes to make sure the salicylic acid has some time to work its magic.
Frudia What’s Wrong? Help AC Clear Body Mist
The bacne soothing spray
This spray is a game changer because it was made by people who understand acne—it’s an inflammatory disease. So we’re not just looking at attacking lesions, we want to soothe the skin. This formula contains both panthenol and Centella asiatica in order to reduce redness. And, of course, salicylic acid, because some ingredients are just staples in acne-fighting.
ISDIN Teen Skin Acniben Body Spray Back & Chest Acne
The best ally against bacne in teens
Teens tend to experience a lot of blackheads when fighting bacne. The best way to target them is to actively exfoliate the skin, so this spray contains both salicylic and glycolic acids. This helps to gently but effectively reduce blackheads. The 360º spray is also great because it allows you to apply the spray all by yourself, even upside-down.
Treating pimples on your back is basically the same as treating pimples on your face—you have to be gentle and very protective of your skin’s integrity. Check out all the products our team recommends for targeting acne on your back and chest, and choose your favorite one!
Pharmacy Technician & Beauty Writer