Do you want to know the secrets for getting rid of back acne once and for all? Back acne is annoying at best and painful at worst. Almost everyone’s had it at some point, so you’re not alone. Get ready to bring on the tank tops and backless dresses, however, because we’re prepared to fight back! We talked to top dermatologists and skin-care experts to find out how to get rid of bacne once and for all. Here, discover 17 expert back acne treatment tips.
1. Exfoliate Regularly (But Gently)
“Like the face, one’s upper torso and back have more sebaceous (oil-producing) glands than any other area of the body, which means it produces more of the skin’s natural oil, increasing the likelihood of developing body acne in these areas. Exfoliating regularly is also important since the skin cells on your back may not come off as efficiently as needed. Not to mention, that pile-up can also aggravate acne,” says Doris Day, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Try Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub, $9.49.
2. Wear Clothing That Breathes
“Any skin irritation (like sweat) can exacerbate outbreaks. It’s important to avoid tight clothing to minimize friction, especially when sweating. Certain materials, like those that absorb sweat from the skin, will also reduce irritation. Lighter colors and cotton are ideal, especially during workouts,” says Day.
3. Spot-Treat Bacne
Spot treatments and masks aren’t just for your face — they can also be a targeted way to tackle bacne breakouts. New York-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green recommends using a spot treatment with ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, like her MGSKINLABS, Inc. Acne Spot Treatment ($45.00). You can also use spot treatments that you would typically use on your face on your body as a back acne treatment. For breakouts close to the surface, try Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion ($17) for an overnight fix. Rouleau’s Anti-Cyst Treatment ($49.50) is a great option if you have cystic bacne. And if you’re having trouble applying the product on your own and don’t have a friend around that can help, Dr. Green has a solution. “Invest in a lotion applicator for the back to ensure the product reaches the problem areas.”
4. Use an Acne Spray That Hits Your Entire Back
Getting acne medication on your back can be tricky, but this simple spray can propel its treatment from any angle so you can get wider coverage. Try Murad Clarifying Body Spray, $44.
5. Try Cleansing Pads
Even when you think you’ve gotten your body squeaky clean, one swipe of these cleansing pads can reveal trapped dirt and oil. The discs are saturated with salicylic acid, so they fight breakouts while cleansing. Have trouble reaching certain spots? Get a pal to help you rub them on your back! Try Oxy Daily Defense Cleansing Pads, $12.45.
6. Shower Right After Working Out
One of the reasons bacne happens is because we’re busy being awesome and healthy while working up a sweat! “Showering after exercise or after spending the day outside on a hot summer day is important in preventing back acne from flaring up,” explains Dr. Green. “Allowing the sweat and dirt to build up on the skin and inside of the clothes will lead to build-up of bacteria and acne breakout.”
Shower right after exercising to help remove sweat that may be irritating the skin and causing clogged pores on your back that lead to bacne. Suppose you can’t get to a shower right after an intense workout session. In that case, Dr. Green also recommends planning ahead and walking with a change of clothes and some oil-free cleansing wipes to handle the situation until you can do your usual routine.
7. Use Specially Formulated Cleansers
Take advantage of cleansers made specifically to fight bacne, like the CeraVe Salicylic Acid Body Wash ($11.04). As the name suggests, this cleanser deposits salicylic acid wherever you need it most, leaving you feeling ultra-clean as it helps you fight acne all over your body. Another option is to use a benzoyl peroxide–laced wash, like PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash ($9.49).
If body washes are more your style, try Murad’s Acne Body Wash for $44. The trifecta of salicylic acid, green tea, and licorice root extract reduces redness, soothes inflammation, and unclogs your pores. If you’re still not seeing results with OTC products, ask your dermatologist about prescription-strength washes to help manage your bacne problem.
8. Use a Cleansing Brush
When you’re looking up how to get rid of back acne, one of the most obvious ways is… a good wash. However, scrubbing your back seems impossible until you try Clarisonic’s body brush — it deep cleans even tough skin around your upper shoulders. The extending handle allows you to get to hard-to-reach areas quickly. Try the Clarisonic Mia Smart Deluxe Acne Prevention Kit, $169.
9. Don’t Let Shampoo and Conditioner Sit on Your Back
Sometimes some of the blame for bacne lies with how we wash our hair. When shampoo or conditioner-coated hair sits directly on our backs, it seeps into the skin, which can be a significant cause of back and body acne. So the answer to getting rid of bacne might be as simple as clipping your hair up if you’re letting a conditioner sit in it for a bit. Or rinse out your shampoo in a way that doesn’t let the suds sit on your back. It’s also essential to keep it off your back after the shower. Freshly conditioned hair can irritate sensitive, acne-prone skin even after you’ve rinsed.
10. Don’t Pick at Zits on Your Back
As with regular acne, avoid picking any bacne or body acne, and just like with your face, picking acne on your body can spread bacteria and cause more pimples, as well as lead to scarring (and, trust us, no one wants to deal with that).
11. Wash Your Sheets and Workout Gear on the Regular
Sheets and recycled workout gear can be a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Make sure to wash your sheets frequently and avoid the temptation to re-wear your sports bra or tank for more than one sweat sesh. Drop your workout gear in the hamper after every session and sanitize your gear – whether at a home gym or a local one – to ensure you’re starting with a clean surface every time. Your back will thank you!
12. Treat Yourself to a Back Facial
“Back facials” differ depending on location in which you receive the facial, such as a dermatology office or a MedSpa.,” says Dr. Green. “Back facials generally consist of cleansing, exfoliating, hydrating, and any additional steps customized for the individual, such as extractions and applying a mask..” Unlike a DIY treatment, a back facial with a licensed esthetician will deep-clean clogged pores, rejuvenate the skin, and give a powerful, professional-strength exfoliation to boost your results of home care and help you get rid of bacne.
13. Treat Acne From the Inside Out
“Back acne is a real challenge to treat,” says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman. For one thing, “the thickness of the dermis on the back is the thickest anywhere on the body, so the penetration of products that you apply topically can only do so much,” she says. If you have been following our previous steps for treating bacne, and you’re still not seeing improvement, you might want to consult a derm who can prescribe oral antibiotics — and, in even more severe cases, Accutane. “Some cases of back acne, particularly those with extreme cystic acne, may find that antibiotics are more powerful and may be needed to avoid long-term scarring,” adds Renée.
14. Incorporate Probiotics Into Your Skin-Care Routine and Diet
Whether you add fermented foods (which are naturally rich in probiotics) like kimchi, miso, yogurt, and kefir, or take a daily supplement, probiotics can boost the health of the skin’s microbiome. “Taking an oral probiotic daily really does help not only to reset the gastrointestinal flora, but can actually help the skin flora as well,” says Engelman. Luckily, probiotic supplements are readily available thanks to brands like Olly ($12.42)and Tula ($39), at a variety of price points.
15. Opt for Oil-Free Sunscreen
One of the solutions for how to get rid of back acne is switching out your sunscreen. Whenever you choose sunscreen, opt for one that says it’s “non-comedogenic.” That means the sunscreen is oil-free and specifically formulated not to block pores. With oil-free sunscreen, you can stay safe in the sun without worrying about a bad back breakout.
16. Pop On A Pimple Patch
Next on our list of advice for getting rid of back acne is a straightforward solution: pop on a pimple patch – or get a friend or roomie to handle the hard work for you! When we say “pimple patch,” you probably imagine something cute and tiny like these BT21 anti-acne patches($8) from The Creme Shop. However, pimple patches for body acne (like bacne!) exist. If you have a good track record with pimple patches, consider them when you’re trying to fix your back acne. Try these Rael XL Spot Control Cover patches ($12). At almost three inches wide, these patches are big enough to cover your back acne flare-ups.
17. Stop Popping Pimples
We know it’s satisfying to pop a pesky pimple. It’s gross as heck, but there’s something about it that keeps us at it. While it’s hard to pop your back pimples on your own, don’t let anyone do it. Not even your really excited friend who loves pimple-popping videos on YouTube or Tiktok. Why? Because popping pimples can make things way worse. “Picking at pimples can also lead to permanent scarring,” Dr. Green explains. “ It can be especially damaging to those with cystic acne because cysts form below the surface layer of the skin, making it impossible to extract the cyst by popping it manually.”