How to get rid of back acne
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Want to know the secrets for how to get rid of bacne once and for all? Back acne is annoying at best and painful at worst, and almost everyone’s had it at some point or other, so you’re not alone! Bring on the tank tops and backless dresses, though, because we’re ready to fight back! We talked to top dermatologists and skin-care experts to find out how to get rid of bacne once and for all. Here, discover 15 expert tips for how to get rid of back acne.
1. Exfoliate Regularly
“Like the face, one’s upper torso and back have more sebaceous (oil-producing) glands than any other area of the body, which means it produces more of the skin’s natural oil, increasing the likelihood of developing body acne in these areas. Exfoliating on a regular basis is also important since the skin cells on the back may not slough off as efficiently as needed and that pile-up can aggravate acne,” says Doris Day, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Try Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub, $9.49.
2. Wear Clothing That Breathes
“Any skin irritation (like sweat) can exacerbate outbreaks. It’s important to stay away from tight clothing to minimize friction, especially when perspiring. Certain materials, like those that absorb sweat from the skin, will also reduce irritation. Lighter colors and cotton are ideal, especially during workouts,” says Day.
3. Spot-Treat Bacne
Spot treatments and masks aren’t just for your face — they can be a targeted way to tackle bacne breakouts, too. Esthetician and skin-care expert Renée Rouleau recommends using a mask with ingredients like sulfur, camphor, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and clay, like her Rapid Response Detox Masque ($65.50). You can also use spot treatments that you would normally use on your face on your bod. For breakouts that are close to the surface, try Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion ($17) for an overnight fix. If your bacne is the cystic kind, Rouleau’s Anti-Cyst Treatment ($49.50) is a great option.
4. Use an Acne Spray to Hit Weird Angles on Your Back
Getting acne medication on your back can be tricky, but this simple spray can propel its treatment from any angle. Try Murad Clarifying Body Spray, $44.
5. Try Cleansing Pads
Even when you think you’ve gotten your body squeaky clean, one swipe of these cleansing pads can reveal trapped dirt and oil. The discs are saturated with salicylic acid, so they fight breakouts while cleansing. Get a pal to help you rub them on your back! Try Oxy Daily Defense Cleansing Pads, $12.45.
6. Shower Right After Working Out
One of the reasons bacne happens is because we’re busy being so awesome and healthy working up a sweat! “Breakouts on the back and body can be exacerbated by working out or sweating more,” explains Renée. Whenever possible, shower right after exercising to help remove sweat that may be irritating the skin and causing clogged pores on your back.
7. Use Specially Formulated Cleansers
Take advantage of cleansers made specifically to fight bacne, like the CeraVe Salicylic Acid Body Wash ($11.04). As the name suggests, this cleanser deposits salicylic acid wherever you need it most, leaving you feeling ultra-clean and helping you to fight acne all over your body. Another option is to use a benzoyl peroxide–laced wash, like PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash ($9.49).
If body washes are more your style, try Murad’s Acne Body Wash, $44. The trifecta of salicylic acid, green tea, and licorice root extract reduces redness, soothes inflammation, and unclogs pores. If you’re still not seeing results with OTC products, ask your dermatologist about prescription-strength washes, too.
8. Use a Cleansing Brush
Scrubbing your back seems basically impossible, until you try Clarisonic’s body brush — it deep cleans even tough skin around your upper shoulders. The extending handle allows you to easily get to hard-to-reach areas. Try the Clarisonic Mia Smart Deluxe Acne Prevention Kit, $169.
9. Don’t Let Conditioner Sit on Your Back
Sometimes how we wash our hair is to blame for bacne. When conditioner-coated hair sits directly on our backs, it seeps into the skin — and that can actually be the cause of back and body acne. So the answer to how to get rid of bacne might be as simple as clipping your hair up if you’re going to let a conditioner sit in it for a bit. It’s also important to keep it off your back after the shower, too. Even though you’ve rinsed, the freshly conditioned hair can irritate sensitive, acne-prone skin.
10. Don’t Pick at Zits on Your Back
As with regular acne, avoid picking any bacne or body acne. Just like with your face, picking acne on your body can spread bacteria and cause more pimples, as well as lead to scarring (and no one wants to deal with that).
11. Wash Your Sheets and Workout Gear Regularly
Sheets and recycled workout gear can be a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Make sure to wash your sheets frequently and avoid the temptation to re-wear your sports bra or tank for more than one sweat sesh.
12. Schedule a Back Facial
“As someone who has struggled with back acne during my teenage years, I am very familiar with this troubling condition,” says Renée. “While there are great things you can do for yourself at home, to get even better results, schedule an appointment to get a back treatment with a skin-care professional.” Unlike a DIY treatment, a back facial with a licensed esthetician will deep-clean clogged pores, as well as give a powerful, professional-strength exfoliation to boost the results of your home care.
13. Treat Acne From the Inside Out
“Back acne is a real challenge to treat,” says New York City–based board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman. For one thing, “the thickness of the dermis on the back is the thickest of anywhere on the body, so the penetration of products that you apply topically can only do so much,” she says. If you have been following the above steps for treating bacne, and you’re still not seeing improvement, you might want to consult a derm who can prescribe oral antibiotics — and in even more severe cases, Accutane. “Some cases of back acne, particularly those with extreme cystic acne, may find that antibiotics are more powerful and may be needed to avoid long-term scarring,” adds Renée.
14. Incorporate Probiotics Into Your Diet and Skin-Care Routine
Whether you add fermented foods (which are naturally rich in probiotics) like kimchi, miso, yogurt, and kefir, or take a daily supplement, probiotics can boost the health of the skin’s microbiome. “Taking an oral probiotic daily really does help to not only reset the gastrointestinal flora, but can actually help the skin flora as well,” says Engelman. Luckily, probiotic supplements are readily available thanks to brands like Olly ($12.42)and Tula ($39), at a variety of price points.
15. Opt for Oil-Free Sunscreen
Last but not least on our list of solutions for how to get rid of back acne is switching out your sunscreen. Whenever you choose a sunscreen, opt for one that says “non-comedogenic.” That means the sunscreen is oil-free and specifically formulated not to block pores.
Those who have acne will know that the pesky little whiteheads, cystic spot eruptions and blackheads aren’t usually contained to your face.
From bacne (acne on your back) to buttne (acne on your backside – yep, it’s a thing) body spots can be pretty rubbish to deal with. Even worse? When the warm weather makes an appearance, your playsuits come out of hibernation and suddenly you’re showing off a little more flesh than usual.
But how do you get rid of back acne??
MORE FROM ELLE
As debilitating as body acne can be (we feel you), you don’t have to swerve plans or cover up completely, because ELLE has enlisted one of the best dermatologists in the business to help banish the breakouts once and for all. Here’s how to get rid of back acne or body acne once and for all.
How To Get Rid Of Back Acne
1. Swap Out Your Current Body Wash
That ultra-creamy, coconut-scented shower gel may feel seriously luxe, but if it doesn’t contain zit-zapping ingredients such as salicylic acid (a BHA that exfoliates the skin’s surface layer and unblocks pores of sebum and dead skin), glycolic acid (an AHA that dissolves the upper layer of dead skin cells to prevent spots and to blur red marks left behind by acne), and lactic acid (also an AHA with the same skin-smoothing, spot-preventing credentials as glycolic acid, just a little gentler on skin), then it might not be doing your body acne any good.
‘Acids like these prevent dead skin cells from building up and blocking your pores,’ explains London-based consultant dermatologist, Dr. Justine Kluk. ‘And remember, cleanse your skin thoroughly in the shower every day.’
– MARIO BADESCU AHA BOTANICAL BODY SOAP – £7.25 SHOP NOW
Alpha hydroxy acids in this foaming shower gel chip away at the mixture of dead skin cells and sebum responsible for spots. It’s absolutely brilliant at clearing up breakouts on the back, chest, shoulders and arms and doesn’t dry skin out.
2. Shower Immediately After A Workout
‘The bacteria responsible for causing acne thrive on sweaty skin,’ explains Dr. Kluk. ‘It’s important to remove your gym clothes and shower as soon as possible after a workout.’
That means no sitting on the end of your bed, scrolling through Instagram, trying to muster up the energy to jump in. We’re talking ASAP, people.
3. Use A Scrub Pre-Shower
‘If you get lots of under the skin spots or blackheads, using a scrub a couple of times a week in the shower may be effective,’ advises Dr. Kluk. ‘But, always be gentle and don’t rub your skin raw as this can increase inflammation.’ Not cute.
– AMELIORATE SKIN SMOOTHING BODY POLISH – £9 SHOP NOW
This expert-approved scrub combines chemical exfoliators (such as lactic acid) with physical exfoliators (micro-dermabrasion granules) to deliver a double-pronged attack on the oil, dead skin and grime that can cause breakouts. Massage gently into damp skin before showering.
4. Choose The Right Body Moisturiser
You don’t have to give up the moisturiser to keep breakouts at arms length – just make sure you choose the right one – that means ditching the unctuous, oily creams.
‘Applying a moisturiser will soothe and repair your skin barrier, but make sure that any products you leave on your skin are labelled ‘non-comedogenic,’ advises Dr. Kluk. ‘This means that they won’t clog your pores.’
– CERAVE MOISTURISING LOTION – £7.10 SHOP NOW
Non-comedogenic (which means it won’t clog your pores) and hypoallergenic (making it perfect for those with sensitive skin), this silky, ultra-light, fragrance-free lotion absorbs in seconds and leaves skin feeling insanely smooth and hydrated, and it’s all down to a duo of cell-building ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid. We love.
– AMELIORATE TRANSFORMING BODY LOTION – £22.50 SHOP NOW
A daily slathering of this dermatologist-approved lotion works wonders to banish spots on limbs, shoulders and chest thanks to the AHAs. It also blasts ingrown hairs and keratosis pilaris, AKA chicken skin – our arms have never felt smoother.
5. Use A Topical Treatment Instead Of Picking
As tempting as it may be to pretend you’re Dr. Pimple Popper, try and avoid picking when it comes to body acne.
‘Whatever you do, don’t pick, squeeze or scratch your spots,’ says Dr. Kluk. ‘This can introduce infection and lead to scarring. Instead, apply a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid gel to juicy spots.’
You can buy benzoyl peroxide creams, such as Acnecide and Duac, over the counter. They kill bacteria that leads to acne, but do have a tendency to dry the skin out. If that puts you off…
– MALIN + GOETZ SALICYLIC ACID GEL – £19 SHOP NOW
This gel cools raging spots and redness without making skin feel taut, uncomfortable or turning it flaky and chalky. A dab is all you need, just be sure to wait for it to dry before pulling your clothes on.
– DCL ALPHA BETA GEL TONER – £31 SHOP NOW
Formulated for your legs, chest, shoulders and back as well as your face, this cooling gel-toner harnesses both glycolic and salicylic acid to calm inflammation and redness, turf sebum and dead cells out of pores and to exfoliate the top layer of skin for better clarity.
6. Carry Spare Clothing
We know that excessive sweat and bacteria can lead to blocked pores, especially bacne, so, Dr. Kluk suggests carrying a spare, clean top with you if you tend to perspire more in warmer weather.
‘It’s also best to wash underwear, like your bra, after every wear,’ she adds.
7. Visit A Dermatologist
‘If you’ve tried all of these things and are still struggling to get on top of your breakouts or are aware of developing scars, see a dermatologist who can advise you on prescription treatment,’ advises Dr. Kluk.
Oral prescriptions are a great option and include: Spironolactone, which has anti-androgen effects to block male hormone testosterone and excessive oil production in female acne sufferers and Isotretinoin AKA Roaccutane – a vitamin A-derived oral medication, which suppresses excess oil production, kills acne bacteria and helps shed dead skin cells, preventing blocked pores.