Acne is one of the most common skin diseases. Any person who suffers from acne, breakouts, pimples, or blemishes of any form, appreciates that it is not only the face that is affected by such afflictions. If you have facial acne, it’s likely you may also experience body acne at some point. Common places for body acne flare-ups include the back, shoulders, neck, and chest.

Back acne, sometimes coined as ‘bacne’ is just a serious an issue as facial acne and can affect people’s self-esteem in the same way as acne or blemishes on the face do too. No, it may not be as visible as the face, but it can certainly be as aggressive, widespread, and painful and often lead to larger infections.

The same type of treatment is available for people who suffer from back acne as people who suffer from acne of the face. These include creams, steroid creams, antibiotics, other oral medication, and medicated skincare regimes. Laser treatment is also an option for people with acne on the back.

Symptoms of Back Acne

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Puss-filled pimples
  • Cysts (Cystic acne)
  • Nodules
  • Papules

However, some of these symptoms do overlap with folliculitis. Folliculitis is not the same as acne and is caused by clogged hair follicles. If you’re not sure which skin disease you have, you may wish to see a specialist who can diagnose you and provide medical advice.

What Causes Back Acne?

Back acne is caused by clogged pores. The pores on your skin become clogged when dead skin cells build up on the surface of your skin and become mixed with excess oil and acne-causing bacteria.

The good news is we know of a few treatments that can help your skin get rid of those dead skin cells, control oil production, and kill the bacteria causing your acne pimples.

The Impact of Back Acne

Woman's Back

Acne that affects the back can really impact your mental health and confidence. As it’s not as talked about as much or as visible as acne on the face, you may feel ostracised by your back acne and feel as though you’re alone in your struggles. And during those hot, summer months, you may wish to wear something that exposes your back but don’t feel able to do so.

However, acne on the back is a lot more common than you may think and many people do suffer from it at some point in their lives.

Also, there are steps and treatments you can take to get rid of your acne and banish breakouts on your back for good.

Treatment types for Back Acne

Laser and Cosmetic Surgery Treatments

If you are looking at cosmetic, laser surgery treatment for back acne then there are a number of clinics available for you to pursue treatment within the United States. You should always ensure that these are professional practices with the appropriate qualifications to access the best and most appropriate level of treatment for what you personally require.

There are many established practices with wide price ranges and different types of treatments available. They can be, however, quite costly, ranging in price from $200 – $5000 per course of treatment. These include:

  • Laser light treatment
  • Skin needle treatment
  • Microdermabrasion treatments
  • Chemical Skin Peels.

Advantages include fast results, reduction in the cause of acne, and stronger lasting effects.

Disadvantages include: Side effects such as pain, swelling, and redness, high costs, longer treatments as often more than one course of treatment are required, and never actually clearing the acne or acne scarring 100%.

Benzoyl Peroxide

The chemical Benzoyl Peroxide has lots of different uses and purposes. Our focus here is how it can be used to treat back acne, though it is worth looking at some of the other uses as well. Benzoyl peroxide is used to treat acne as it is able to kill bacteria responsible for acne.

There are some over-the-counter products that contain benzoyl peroxide that can be used effectively to treat back acne. These include body washes, exfoliating scrubs, creams, and moisturizers.

It is an active ingredient you should look for in products if you have acne-prone skin and is a common treatment people use to get rid of back acne.

There are side effects because of the nature of the peroxide such as slight skin irritation which varies from person to person. These, however, are normally reported as reducing and even disappearing completely after prolonged usage of the product. The dryness can be counteracted by using a moisturizer in conjunction with whichever benzoyl peroxide product you are trying out.


Doxycycline is a type of antibiotic often used in the treatment of acne. It generally comes in tablet form, as a course of treatment to be taken for a prolonged or set period of time.

It is commonly used to fight bacteria, and therefore has usage in terms of treating acne. It targets the bacteria that causes acne or the bacteria in the skin that is prolonging acne breakouts. It also helps with the reduction of swelling and the appearance of redness in the face. Therefore, it may be worth especially worth a try if you have inflamed skin or cystic acne. Though it may work quite well for your skin, it is still worth maintaining a proper skin care routine in order to combat your acne on different fronts.

This is a treatment for people aged 12 and over, which is normally when acne problems start to come about anyway because of puberty and the consequential hormonal changes in the body. You also cannot use this if you are pregnant, as it can sometimes interfere with the development of the mouth and teeth (hence why it is for over 12 years of age). But if you are 12 and over, you may wish to see your doctor about the possibility of using doxycycline to get rid of back acne.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. It is a derivative of aspirin and is used on the skin as a chemical exfoliant. As it is oil-soluble, it helps dissolve excess oil on the surface of the skin and slough off dead skills cells that can clog pores and cause acne.

Salicylic acid is commonly found in body washes and moisturizers at concentrations of 2%, 5%, and even 10%. If you have body acne, a body wash containing salicylic acid can help prevent and banish your breakouts. If you have back acne, in particular, you may benefit the most from a salicylic acid body wash that contains a higher percentage to get rid of back acne since the skin on your back is typically thicker. However, if you have never used salicylic acid before, it’s best to start with the lowest percentage until your skin gets used to it- especially if you have sensitive skin.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is another common ingredient in acne treatment products. A bit like salicylic acid, it is a chemical exfoliation application that removes dead skin cells from the body that can clog pores. It is a skin peeling treatment that removes dead skin and therefore helps in the reduction of scar appearance.

Glycolic acid is often used in conjunction with the previously mentioned benzoyl peroxide. There are a variety of creams, scrubs, and washes available for purchase on the skincare market. It is up to personal preference which one works best for your skin.


Proactiv is a well-known, well-established skincare brand with good reviews and results from customers all over different countries. It is specially developed and tailored for different skin types and comes in a variety of different solutions such as moisturizers and cleansers that often work best when used together.

The products target the cleansing and unclogging of pores, which is often where the root of acne lies, though not exclusively. They market themselves on a ‘three-step system that brings you to clearer skin and targets affected areas of acne.

It has great reviews from a lot of satisfied customers who have found significant improvement in their acne after using this product for a period of time. It is by no means a fast-acting miracle cure, but it can dramatically reduce acne appearance after a number of weeks of usage.


Clearasil is a well-established skincare brand that has existed for a number of years now. It is still around because of how reliable its products are.

There are, like Proactiv, a number of face washes, body scrubs, moisturizers, and deep treatment products available for purchase. The customer reviews are often great and positive, though, like everything, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Birth Control

Another more popular, though sometimes costly depending on where you are in the world, solution and course of treatment for acne is the birth control pill.

Birth control comes in various shapes and sizes as per what the body needs and can manage. It works through regulating and controlling hormones in the body which then go on to combat acne. Though the most effective pill to fight acne is the combination pill, with the two types of hormones estrogen and progestin as it is the way that these two hormones interact and balance each other that lead to the improvement and decrease in acne.

pregnancy test and contraceptive pills

However, as you may know, birth control is for females, and therefore there are no benefits to be had if you are a male that is suffering from back acne or other types of acne.

Research seems to suggest that with the right combination pill that contains both estrogen and progestin, acne and back acne can indeed be affected in a positive way by taking the birth control pill. Establishing other skincare routines may also be beneficial, should a day come when you decide to stop taking your birth control medication.

More Helpful Tips to Help Prevent and Treat Your Back Acne


Shower After Working Out!

Acne bacteria thrive on sweaty skin. So after a hard workout at the gym, make sure you change out of your sweaty gym clothes and take a shower as soon as you can. 


If you can’t shower immediately, an oil-free cleansing wipe is a good alternative until you can get home and wash your skin properly!

Also, if you wear workout clothes that expose your back, you should always wipe down machines that your back will come in contact with as not doing so can worsen acne.

Think About Clothing!

Dress, Clothing, Hanger, Steel, Laundry

Tight-fitting clothing or bag straps that continually rub against the skin can cause something called Acne Mechanica. Acne Mechanica occurs due to pressure and friction on the skin. Therefore, consider wearing more loose-fitting clothes.

Another tip is to think about the types of material you wear. Fabrics that are not particularly breathable can trap sweat, bacteria, and dead skin cells, which as you now know is a recipe for clogged skin pores. Cotton is a soft fabric that is kind to the skin, and super comfortable to wear!

Check Your Laundry Detergent!

Washing Machine, Laundry

It may be that you are using a laundry detergent that is too harsh for your skin and is triggering breakouts on your back. Consider experimenting with a few different laundry detergents- ideally ones that don’t contain too many harsh chemicals and are formulated for sensitive skin!


A lot of people know to regularly moisturize their skin and neck, but not many moisturize their back. Keeping the skin on your back hydrated will help protect and replenish your skin barrier. This in turn will improve the health of your skin and can even prevent more breakouts

Make Time to De-stress!

Growing evidence suggests that stress can cause and exacerbate acne, so it’s important to Relaxationtake a little time for yourself every day and do something relaxing. Whether that’s watching your favorite Netflix show, reading a good book, or taking part in a yoga class!


Though back acne may be a problem for a lot of people, there are a number of ways in which you can target and control it.

Some of these don’t have to be medicinal as acne can often be improved dramatically through subtle diet changes (i.e., incorporating more vegetables into your daily eating habits or swapping out fizzy drinks for plain old water).

Establishing a proper skincare washing routine, making sure you shower properly and wash pores efficiently after exercise, and staying out of the sun or wearing appropriate sun protection. Also, invest in a good body wash that contains one of the active ingredients listed above!