Back and Body Acne Causes and Treatments
Back acne and body acne are common problems. About 10% of people have acne at some point. While it most often starts during puberty, acne has gotten more common in adults.
The chest, neck, shoulders, upper arms, and even the butt are common places to get pimples. And back acne is so common it even has its own informal name: bacne.1
This article explains the causes of back and body acne and how to treat it.
The same factors that trigger facial acne can lead to body or back acne. Namely, overactive oil glands, excess dead skin cells, and acne-causing bacteria can lead to breakouts anywhere on the body.2
Here's how pimples develop:
- Oil and dead skin cells become trapped within the follicle (pore) and create a blockage.
- The blockage becomes a blackhead.
- If bacteria invade, the blackhead progresses to an inflamed pimple.
Like the face, the upper half of the body has many sebaceous glands. These glands produce sebum (oil) to help your skin maintain moisture, regulate temperature, and prevent infections.
Because so many of these glands are on the upper body (as opposed to the limbs), the follicles are more likely to become plugged with excess oil and dead skin cells.3
Sweat can also irritate body acne.8 To minimize irritation, shower as soon as possible after exercising.
Don't aggressively scrub the skin, though. Remember, you want to avoid friction. A thorough but gentle cleansing—preferably with a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide wash—is better than a vigorous scrubbing.8
Good daily skin care is the backbone for your acne treatment routine. However, finding a treatment that works can seem frustrating, especially if you've already tried several things with little improvement.
- To prevent body or back acne breakouts, experts recommend:11
- Wearing loose clothing
- Eating less sugar and dairy products
- Lowering your stress level
- Using non-comedogenic body care products
- Treating pimples with antibacterial body wash, topical retinoid, or chemical exfoliants
If those measures don't work, see a dermatologist.