Back Acne and How to Treat It

back acne

On a good day, back acne is an annoying and frustrating inconvenience to your spaghetti straps and halter tops. On a bad day, it’s a painful and irritating skin condition. Regardless of the severity and frequency, back acne (commonly referred to as bacne) can be damaging to your self-confidence and might keep you from showing your skin, even when you’d like to feel entirely comfortable. Fortunately, there are ways to help treat the condition. Here are a few places to start.

What causes back acne?

There are a variety of reasons why people get acne, and it can appear in different places around the body, including the back. Acne can be a result of genetics, hormones, sweat, stress or even certain medications. Some studies have shown that foods that are high in carbohydrates and dairy products can increase the appearance of acne, although other studies have discounted this theory.  

Our bodies produce an oil called sebum, which is made in the glands connected to your hair follicles. The oil moves up the follicles to add moisture to the skin. It’s a welcome function of our bodies because it keeps our skin from drying out. At the same time, it can be a nuisance when whiteheads and blackheads start to form when extra sebum and dead skin cells build up in the follicle. 

How can you treat back acne?


Making sure your body is clean is the best first step. If you’ve gone to the gym, spent time outside or have done any activity where you have been sweating, it’s best to hit the shower. Sweat and dirt sitting on your skin can be a major contributor to acne, so washing that off as soon as possible is key. You should also be sure to wash those sweaty clothes between workouts to avoid letting sweat and dirt sit on your skin.

There are a variety of specially-formulated cleansers specifically for back acne that use salicylic acid and other beneficial ingredients to help clear acne. Before choosing an over-the-counter product to treat your back acne, it is recommended that you consult with a dermatologist to be sure you choose the best product for your skin. 


Exfoliating your skin regularly is also an important part of the cleansing and maintenance process. Since acne is the build-up of sebum and dead skin cells, it’s important to rid your body of the extra dead skin cells that it no longer needs. Using a gentle exfoliating scrub with salicylic acid will effectively remove excess dirt and oil that will clog your pores and cause pimples. 

Wear loose-fitting clothes

When thinking about what to wear, sometimes loose-fitting clothing is better for acne prone skin than tight-fitting apparel. When your skin sweats, it can get trapped inside tight clothing and cause irritation. Loose-fitting clothing will allow your skin to breathe and reduce the likelihood of irritation. Of course, this isn’t always feasible, but it’s a good preventative measure whenever possible.

Try spot treatments

If you’re past prevention and looking for on-the-spot treatment, try several high-quality spot treatments. Tea tree oil is a great option to try for those looking for a natural remedy. Made from leaves from the tree in Australia, it has been used for years to treat a variety of skin issues. You can find tea tree oil in a variety of popular cleansers, lotions, and creams. Take care not to overdo it with tea tree oil as it can dry our your skin if used too often or at high potencies. 

Using masks with ingredients like sulfur, camphor, salicylic acid, tea tree oil and clay can also treat your back acne by helping dry out pimples and clear pores. Look for over-the-counter acne creams and gels containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid and sulfur which can help get rid of pimples and prevent new blemishes from appearing. 

Buckhead Dermatology Atlanta and College Park 

If the acne anywhere on your body persists, schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist who can take a look at your specific case, talk through your options and determine a proper course of treatment. Dermatologists can help you identify the root cause of the acne and recommend effective products and treatments that actually work. 

Dr. Straughn of Buckhead Dermatology will create a tailored treatment program based on your individual needs. Give our office a call to schedule your appointment to address your back acne or other skin concerns today.