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Bacne: How Do I Get Rid of Back Acne?

Back acne, or “bacne,” is no different than the acne seen on the face or chest. Causes of acne are the same, no matter its location. Treatments are also similar, although somewhat more difficult to apply to the back. It is important to know when to treat at home and when to seek medical attention. This article will explore why you get acne and what you can do to get rid of it.

Key takeaways:

What is bacne?

Bacne, or back acne, is caused by overproduction of sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that the sebaceous glands of your skin make. Sebum keeps your skin healthy. If your sebaceous glands produce too much sebum, you can develop acne.

Acne is the buildup of sebum, bacteria, and even dead skin cells in a sebaceous gland. This buildup then blocks pores of the skin. This blockage in turn causes what are known as pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, or just red bumps.

What causes overproduction of sebum?

Overproduction of sebum can be caused by many factors, including:

CauseImpact
Hormonal changesAs seen in puberty or pregnancy.
GeneticsSome people just produce more sebum.
DietFast foods and high sugar/carbohydrate foods.
MedicationsSteroids or testosterone replacement therapy.
SweatingFrom exercise, stress, or just being hot.
ClothingRestrictive or tight clothing can block pores.
Care productsOily hair or body products.

How can I prevent bacne?

While you can’t always control your hormones or what medications you might have to take, there are certain lifestyle habits that can help prevent bacne.

Healthy eating

Avoid foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates. These kinds of foods include:

  • Soda
  • Fast food
  • Desserts
  • Candy

Any foods that can raise your blood sugar quickly can increase your risk of developing acne.

Developing healthy eating habits can be challenging. Healthy eating often involves planning in advance and time to prepare. In the long run, this time is worth it. Try to focus on whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. Whole foods are foods that have not been processed.

Whole foods include:

Type of foodExamples:
Whole grainsQuinoa, brown rice, barley
VegetablesCucumber, peppers, kale, spinach, beets
FruitsApples, oranges, bananas, mangos, melons
Nuts and seedsWalnuts, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
LegumesBlack beans, split peas, lentils
Lean meatsFish, eggs, mussels, grass fed beef, chicken

Good workout habits

Exercising is a good way to stay healthy. Wear loose fitting, sweat absorbing clothing when you work out. You should not wear sweaty clothes for longer than necessary. Wash your workout clothes often. Do your best to shower shortly after sweating, to rinse any extra oils off your skin.

Skin care

Another good habit to get into is taking good care of your skin.

How can I treat bacne at home?

If you do develop bacne, there are several things you can do at home as well as continuing the good lifestyle habits listed above. Below are two types of topical treatments available you can pick up without a doctor’s prescription.

  1. Benzoyl peroxide can be found in foaming acne wash. You will want to try to find one that contains 5.3% to 10% benzoyl peroxide. Be aware that the higher the percentage, the higher the risk of drying your skin out there is. You will want to leave the acne wash on your back for a few moments before you rinse it off, since the skin on your back is thicker than on your face or chest.
  2. Topical retinoid (adapalene 0.1%). A topical retinoid is a gel that is used after you shower. This medication helps to unclog pores, which can help the benzoyl peroxide work better. Retinoids have also been shown to regulate skin cell turnover and decrease inflammation.

When to seek medical attention?

There are times when you cannot manage your acne at home. Sometimes, what you think is acne, might actually be a different medical condition. If you have been treating your acne at home, and you have not seen any improvement in six to eight weeks, you should go and see your healthcare provider.

Your primary healthcare provider can sometimes treat your acne, or they may send you to a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a provider who specializes in conditions of the skin, hair, and nails.

Whichever type of provider you see, they will offer you several treatments. There are stronger, topical medications, oral medications, and physical treatments that can be done. They will also determine if you have bacne or a similar condition.

Folliculitis is one such condition. Red bumps, caused by inflammation and a bacterial infection, make folliculitis look similar to acne. Unlike acne, folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles.

How does a dermatologist treat bacne?

Dermatologists use three different treatments for bacne: topical, oral, and physical.

Type of treatmentMedications
Topical treatments
  • Stronger versions of the retinoids and benzoyl peroxide
  • Antibacterial ointments (clindamycin, azithromycin, and nadifloxacin)
  • Beta hydroxy acids (chemical peel or salicylic acid)
  • Antimicrobial (azelaic acid)

  • Oral medications
  • Doxycycline
  • Minocycline
  • Erythromycin
  • Isotretinoin
  • Low dose oral contraceptive
  • Spironolactone

  • Physical treatments
  • Dermabrasions (removal of the top layer of skin)
  • Light therapy (blue and red light therapy)
  • Laser therapy (breaks up scar tissue and encourages growth of healthy skin cells)

  • Bacne is a skin condition that often develops at puberty. Most people expect to grow out of it. However, it can return at certain times and in certain situations. Hormones, medication, sweating, and oily skin products can all increase your risk of developing bacne. Healthy lifestyle habits, over the counter treatments, and medical treatments can all help or prevent bacne.

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