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What are the Causes of Back Acne?

by | Last updated Jul 30, 2020 | Published on Jul 23, 2020 | FAQ | 0 comments

Back acne, ugh.  It’s not bad enough that we get it on our face, but it also has to make an appearance on our back too. 

Back acne, slang: “bacne”

Acne is a challenging condition no matter when or where you get it. Pimples in general are difficult to treat. 

This is the story of everyone who has ever dealt with any kind of acne. And there are a lot of people who have. That makes acne the most common skin condition in the world.

So today, we will go over the causes of back acne, and what you can do about it.

In summary

What are the causes of back acne?

Acne pimples are formed by clogging of tiny pores on the skin. These pores are present almost everywhere on the body, including the back.  The reason why many people have clusters of pimples on their can back be linked to sweating, tight clothes, excess oil production or fluctuating hormones.

How do you get rid of back acne?

Dealing with back acne is very similar to acne elsewhere on the body. Regular exfoliation, cleansing, body masks are all helpful. If you suffer from severe back acne, topical creams are preferred for mild cases or severe requires oral medications.

How do you prevent back acne?

Prevention is always better than cure. The best way is to avoid the causative factors. Showering after sweating, avoid tight clothing and reduce skin irritants. Reducing excess oil will prevent clogging of the pores a clay body mask can help with oil adsorption. 

Acne was mostly considered a usual sign of puberty, appearing around teenage and improving after[1]. Hormones can be one of the main culprits. They increase oil production and cause the skin to thicken up, forming bumps.

But for many, acne goes well into their 20s. This is called adult acne and the incident of it is on the rise. 

Breakouts commonly appear on the face. The oily T-zone being the major battle ground. But acne on other areas of the body is also common and quite troublesome. Both physical appearance and tenderness and pain around the pimples can be the cause of distress.

Causes of Back Acne

What is back acne?

There are tiny depressions all over our skin called pores[2]. These pores house important structures like sebaceous glands that produce oil. They also contain hair follicles and sweat glands.

Any type of blockage of these pores can lead to swelling and inflammation. That is how you get the bumps we call pimples.

People suffering from acne have pores that are more prone to blockage. This can be due to turning over of dead skin cells. Some bacteria or fungi are normally present on the skin that cause different types of acne. They feed on oil in these pores.

Large amount of sebum or oil can cause these organisms to over grow and cause infection. Worsening your bumpy situation.

The skin on our back is particularly susceptible to getting clogged pores.

Especially for those who like heavy workouts and gym wear.

Excessive sweating during exercise can also engorge the pores. Combined with tight fitting clothes having little ventilation can suffocate your skin.

Bacteria and fungi thrive in the damp, poorly aerated environment using sebum as food.

This leads to the appearance of clusters of painful and unsightly bumps on the back. These pimples can be itchy and tender to touch. 

How to get rid of back acne?

The surface area on the back is considerably larger than the face. It is also harder to reach, obviously. We can wash our face multiple times a day whenever we feel the need to. But same cannot be done with this area of the body.

Treating back acne although difficult, it is still very similar to the treatment of acne on other areas of the body.

Along with my acne on my face, I have experience bouts of acne on my upper back and chest.  I still do.  When they do pop up, I find a mask and body exfoliation gets the job done for me. 

Body mask:

Just like when you have a breakout on your face, clay masks can be very effective at reducing the inflammation and speeding up recovery time of that pimple.

Even though we do suggest doing a clay mask after the shower, I from time to time will combine a face mask with a body mask before the shower.

For back acne breakouts, I use clay with these masks:  


A gentle exfoliation can reduce the excess oil on dirt on your skin that can cause pore blockages.  It also helps reduce dead skin cells. 

You can easily exfoliate with a dry brush or exfoliate in the shower by using one of these techniques:

I have found great success by adding a facial exfoliating brush to my skincare routine.  This technique works on body acne too!

Lactic acid or salicylic acid is also very effective at exfoliation and increasing cell turnover. 


If none of these at home treatments work, contact your dermatologist or doctor.  Doctors can prescribe antibiotics or retinoids.

Many times you will require a combinations of systemic and topical medications. Especially if your acne is severe and reoccurring[3].

How to prevent back acne?

You cannot always avoid getting acne. But there are ways you can reduce it.

Shower after sweating: excessive sweat after workouts can block pores and cause bumps[4]. It is impossible to not sweat. But it is recommended you take a shower after to prevent clogging and pimples.

Avoid tight clothing: constricted clothing will suffocate your pores. The oil and sweat will accumulate giving bacteria and fungi a nice environment to grow.

Staying away from tightly fitting clothes especially during vigorous activity will solve this problem.

Avoid certain medications: Overuse of antibiotics can mess up with the natural flora of the skin[5]. This causes unwanted bacteria and fungi to spread and infect your pores.

Reduce skin irritation: anything can cause your skin to irritate. From synthetic fiber clothing to fragrances or even picking at your pimples. It will inflame the skin and make you prone to scarring.

Cotton clothes are always recommended for sensitive skin and it is best to avoid fragranced body products.

Use dandruff shampoo as body wash: if the regular acne treatments aren’t working for you, you might suspect you have fungal acne.  Often small red bumps, over the counter dandruff shampoo used as your body wash can stop fungal acne breakouts.

In summary,

Having a visible skin condition anywhere on the body is difficult. But back acne is very common and it is something that comes and goes. The causes of back acne are often the same reason it appears elsewhere on the body. That is blockage of pores by oil and dead cells.

The treatment is also similar to other forms of acne but there are special precautions to prevent it.  

Dealing with acne is a continuous struggle. So be patient and go easy on yourself. You will eventually get rid of acne but the habit of self-care will always stay with you.

Our FAQ about Clay answers a lot of other questions about acne.  

Disclaimer: Our content does not constitute a dermatologist or medical advice.

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What are the Causes of Back Acne? 1

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