Back Acne: How To Treat & Prevent It

Back Acne: How To Treat & Prevent It

A recent study showed 60% of us will suffer with back acne at some point. It’s so common because the skin is thicker on our backs, meaning pores are larger and more prone to breakouts. How do you treat it and stop it coming back? Two skincare experts share everything you need to know…

There Is No Single Cause

“Acne on the back occurs for the same reasons as it does on the face,” explains Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55 and author of The Skincare Bible. “It’s a complex interplay between hormones, genetics, excess sebum or oil production, alongside bacteria which can create inflammation on the skin’s surface. The face, chest and back are all common sites for acne as these areas of the body have the highest density of oil glands.” 

Sweat & Friction Play A Part

“Another common reason I see acne affecting the back and chest is due to the trend of wearing sports clothing as daywear,” adds Dr Anjali. “Heat, sweat and occlusion from tight-fitting lycra sports bras can create spots at this site. One way of reducing this is to limit ‘athleisure’ wear and ensure you shower immediately after any exercise or heavy sweating.” Clinical aesthetician Pamela Marshall agrees: “Sweat mixed with bacteria on the skin and dead skin cells will clog pores, and that’s what causes body acne, not the sweat itself. So be mindful of wearing clothes made from fibres that aren’t breathable. Swap out your tops where possible after your workout and change your bed sheets regularly.” 

It Can Be Treated Easily  

“Back acne should be treated in the same way as any facial acne,” advises Dr Anjali. “This can involve the use of body washes or cleansers targeted for blemish-prone skin, and ensuring you cleanse appropriately post-exercise is key – sitting around is sweaty gym kit is a big no. Try using pre-soaked pads or toners that contain salicylic acid to wipe down the affected area. This will help reduce the blockage of pores. It’s worth avoiding thick, heavy-textured moisturisers though as these can further block pores. Instead, opt for light, gel textures or lotions. Failing this, it’s worth seeking medical attention from your GP or dermatologist, who can prescribe creams or even tablets depending on the extent and severity of the problem.” 

Certain Ingredients Work Better

“As mentioned above, salicylic acid is a great remedy, but it’s also worth looking to products that contain mandelic acid and polyhdroxy acids (PHAs) like my go-to spray Clinisept (a formulation of water, phosphoric acid and sodium hypochlorite),” says Pamela. “These are key as they work to kill bacteria, dislodge congestion and reduce inflammation fast. As the skin and spots start to dry on your back, you must try and avoiding picking if you can. If you do scratch, jump into a shower when you can to eliminate any bacteria sitting on the surface of the skin for too long.” Dr Anjali adds: “If you can’t afford to invest in an abundance of new products, it’s worth noting that most face washes made for acne-prone skin can be used on the back too.” 

Cleansing Daily Is Essential 

“We all forget and neglect our back but cleansing it daily is as essential as washing your face, especially if you have spots there,” says Pamela. “Invest in a gentle, non-stripping cleanser – especially post-workout or after excessive sweating – and spray with Clinisept twice a day, which is brilliant at killing bacteria. Sprays are particularly handy as no one is usually flexible enough to reach the back with ease and this one helps to penetrate deep into the pores, dissolving dead skin cell build-up as it goes. Topical use of PHAs like Exuviance’s Night Renewal Hydragel will hydrate the skin and eliminate congestion. The key is to let your cleanser sit so it has enough time to sink in and do its job properly – never wash it off in a rush. You may find it takes time but don’t panic – this is because the skin is a bit thicker on our back than our face, so be patient.”

Finally, Professional Advice Can Help 

“If you feel you’ve tried every product and remedy under the sun with no results, don’t be afraid to seek out professional advice,” recommends Dr Anjali. “It can affect your self-esteem as it may leave behind some scarring, so it’s important to seek medical help early – you do not need to suffer in silence. Just like the face, it’s treatable and can be prevented, so don’t lose hope.”


Shop Our Edit Of Back Acne Treatments Below…

*Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programmes. 

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