How To Treat ‘Bacne’
How To Treat ‘Bacne’

How To Treat ‘Bacne’

Studies suggest nearly two-thirds of us will suffer with back acne at some point. That’s because the skin in this area has more oil glands, so pores are larger and more prone to breakouts. Here, two experts explain how to treat ‘bacne’ and stop future spots in their tracks.
By Rebecca Hull

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Understand What’s Happening

“Bacne is the term that’s used to refer to acne on the back. Like acne on the face, breakouts are caused by an accumulation of excess oil and dead skin cells. This creates the perfect breeding ground for cutibacterium – a common skin bacteria that overgrows and releases inflammatory chemicals. These switch on a cascade of inflammation which is what causes red bumps, blackheads and whiteheads. It’s also especially common among smokers, whose stress levels are often higher. When we’re stressed, our adrenal glands generate high levels of cortisol which can wreak havoc with our skin. Self-tan can also be a common culprit because it clings to the sebum in your pores and clogs them up. If you are going to tan, choose a formula that isn’t oil based and use a wash-off product over a leave-on one.” – Dr AJ Sturnham, GP specialising in dermatology & founder of Decree 

Know What It Looks Like

“If you have spots on your back, there may be several things going on. Acne presents itself in the form of blackheads, congestion and cystic lesions, just as you would see with facial acne. However, there are other conditions that may look like acne but are not – such as acne mechanica. This is triggered by sweaty environments combined with friction on the skin – think of wearing a backpack while running or cycling as a trigger. Bumpy lesions on the back may also be a form of folliculitis which presents as tiny, itchy bumps. This tends to be worse in the summer months.” – AJ 


Use The Right Treatments

“Back acne should be treated in the same way as facial acne. This can involve the use of body washes or cleansers targeted for blemish-prone skin, and showering immediately after exercise or any other kind of exertion. Try using pre-soaked pads or toners that contain salicylic acid to wipe down the affected area, too. This will free pores from blockages and it’s also worth avoiding thick, heavy-textured moisturisers. Instead, opt for light, gel textures or lotions. Failing this, it’s worth seeking out some medical advice from your GP or dermatologist, who can prescribe medicinal creams or even tablets depending on the severity of the problem.” – Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55 & author of The Skincare Bible

Look Out For These Ingredients

“Salicylic acid (SA) is great at treating breakouts. It works by seeping into your pores and getting rid of any debris. For bacne, buy a body wash with SA in. Leave it on for a few minutes up to two to three times a week, then wash it off. I recommend Decree Deep Cleanse for clients with bacne as it uses salicylic and lactic acid, as well as bentonite and kaolin clay, all of which combine to clean pores and calm inflammation. If you want something stronger, try Acnecide, which contains 5% benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so it works fast. Finally, I love Paula’s Choice Salicylic Acid Spray. It’s good at getting to those hard-to-reach areas and it doesn’t strip your skin – although it’s always worth following up with a hydrating cream.” – AJ

Take Note Of Additional Steps

“If things don’t improve, you might want to move onto other treatments – but only with the go ahead from a professional. This usually involves azelaic acid of up to 15% or 20%. It’s a plant-based ingredient that has anti-inflammatory and pore-decongesting properties. Oral antibiotics are another option – it’s common to start with three months of Lymecycline. There are also prescription strength retinoids for moderate to severe cases.” – AJ 


Minimise Friction Where Possible

“Excess friction can sometimes induce breakouts and papules. The first strategy is to remove the source of pressure. Wear loose-fitting clothing, avoid collars and tight-fitting hats. Likewise, avoid skin coverings or bandages where possible. Always wash after exercise, too – this is essential to get rid of any trapped dirt from tight sports bras or underwear. If you’re unable to shower, at least change out of workout gear and wipe down your skin with some salicylic acid pads. Likewise, always ensure any workout clothes you wear are clean and freshly washed.” – AJ

Finally, Don’t Ignore These Simple Tips…

“As with any skin condition, if you are concerned, it’s worth booking in to see a specialist. If you have tried over-the-counter washes and products and not seen any improvement, it makes sense to see someone who can help. Another simple tip is not to overdo it on the skincare. The temptation can be to blast your back with fruit acids, but less is more. A gentle salicylic acid wash followed by a benzoyl peroxide treatment a few days a week will help in most cases. Also, avoid pore-clogging body oils and butters – look for formulas labelled ‘non-comedogenic’. My final bit of advice is to find out if your spots are caused by a yeast infection. The difference here is the spots grow within the hair follicle. A Ketoconazole shampoo or Nizoral can be applied topically to help with this – both are available without prescription. Apply them to the skin, leave on for a few minutes, then wash them off in the shower. Doing this daily for a few weeks can help the problem.” – AJ

Shop These Top Products For Treating Bacne…

Follow @DrAnjaliMahto & @DrAJSturnham 

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