How To Get Rid of Back Acne

By Abby Vinas Acne Treatment

How To Get Rid of Back Acne

If you struggle with back acne or body acne, you’re not alone. While 92 percent of Americans suffer from facial breakouts, at least 60 percent say they’ve struggled with back or chest acne.

Don’t be dismayed; hope is around the corner. Learning how to get rid of back acne might be annoying and time-consuming, but it’s not an impossible task. 

What Causes Back Acne?

Before you can learn how to treat your back acne, you need to know why it’s there in the first place. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, acne forms when oil, dirt and various debris clog a pore—whether that pore is on your back, chest or face. This can happen in a variety of ways depending on your skin type.

Like the skin on your face, your back has a great deal of sebaceous glands and hair follicles that secrete sebum, a waxy substance designed to keep your skin moisturized. When excess sebum combines with bacteria and dead skin cells, it can clog up your pores and create pimples on your back.

The opening of the pore becomes plugged, spurring a buildup of oil and dead skin cells (otherwise known as “pus”) therein. As the cell swells to accommodate the size of the growing pus, it results in those red and inflamed acne lesions we know and hate so much. Because of this, those with oily skin are more prone to acne.

Although the scientific explanation for acne and bacne formation stays pretty consistent across the board, the reason behind excessive oil production and frequently clogged pores. In order to learn how to get rid of back acne, let’s take a look at some of the top causes of back breakouts. 


Do your breakouts appear to be triggered from workouts? If so, you might not be dealing with back acne, but with folliculitis—infected hair follicles—instead. The hair follicles found within pores can mask as bacne to an undiscerning eye and might be confused for acne mechanica.

top causes of back acne

Acne mechanica occurs on areas of the body where the skin is more susceptible to aggravation from heat, pressure, or friction. Athletes aren’t the only ones who suffer from acne mechanica on their back; bacne can develop under students’ backpack straps, or on people with too tight clothing—especially in humid climates.


Similar to acne on the face, back acne is common during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy. Men also experience hormone-induced breakouts on their back from excessive testosterone levels. When hormone levels are imbalanced in the bloodstream, they head towards the skin to be purged from the body.

Skin cells contain androgen receptors within sebaceous glands which are ready to receive the hormone and remove it through the pore’s opening. However, when the hormone is present within the sebaceous gland—which is responsible for producing the oil intended to keep skin lubricated and protected—it kicks oil production into overdrive. The end result is excessive oil build up and unpleasant pimples.


If you’re hormonally balanced and need to clear back acne no matter how much or little you work out, you’re probably experiencing regular acne and just need to up your skincare game. Modest acne usually presents itself in the form of comedones (whiteheads and blackheads).


Back acne is generally inherited; if your parents struggled with facial, back, chest, or shoulder acne, you likely will too.

These are just a few of the most common bacne causes and only scratch the surface of a long, winding  list; genetics, poor nutrition and a host of various factors can trigger back acne.

Since the surface area of your back is much larger than the rest of your skin, acne on the back often has bigger inflammatory regions than other infected areas, making treatment tricky—but not impossible.

How To Treat Back Acne

On your quest for a bacne cure, start by implementing some day-to-day skincare methods that can help treat your mild to moderate acne.

While genetic predisposition to back acne is not something you can control, there are ways to limit your back breakouts and treat existing pimples. If you’re looking to achieve clear skin, the following tips will help you get rid of back acne:

1. Exfoliate

The acnes bacteria strain, which is responsible for infected acne lesions, cannot live in the presence of oxygen so we need to open up those plugged pores. Find a loofah to exfoliate with in the shower while your pores are loose and pliable in order to slough off dead skin cells and remove a layer of accumulated grime.

Pores on the shoulders and back can be much larger than those on our face, and you may find that they’re more prone to pimple formation. If this is the case, exfoliation can help. Beyond your daily cleansing regimen, consider using a strong exfoliator for your back. While facial skin is sensitive and easily damaged, our back skin is tougher. The right amount of exfoliating can help slough off dead skin cells and leave your pores clean and clear.

Using a salicylic acid acne treatment as a spot treatment can also help. This natural exfoliating ingredient penetrates pores to clear out debris, dead skin cells, and bacteria, clearing up pimples and leaving smooth skin behind. 

Our recommended product: Sudsy Exfoliating Body Wash

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Exfoliating Body Wash

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2. Do More Laundry

Immediately change out of your work out gear (and shower if possible) after you’re done exercising—letting the sweat and dirt sit on your skin can be a major contributor to back breakouts. You’ll also want to make sure your towel, bedding, and pillow are cleaned regularly.

Drying off or lying in dirty linens can negate any cleansing accomplished in the shower.  

3. Keep Your Hair Up

If you have long hair, it could be contributing to the presence of dirt and oil on your back and neck. Try wearing your hair in a bun or pony tail, especially during sweat sessions. Also, take a moment to read the labels on your shampoo and conditioner to make sure they’re non-comedogenic and not contributing to clogged pores.

Sometimes, small changes can make big strides in the improvement of your skin. Aim for a better diet, lower stress levels, and improved hygiene habits to clear up blemishes. If you make these positive lifestyle changes and still see no difference in your condition, you might need medicated treatment.

4. Practice Proper Skin Care

There’s nothing more important when treating acne than a consistent skin care routine, whether you’re struggling with facial acne, back acne, or both. Follow a daily cleansing regimen: wash your skin once in the morning and once in the evening with gentle but effective acne treatment that will help fight existing pimples and prevent future breakouts.

Recommended Product - Treat Acne Clearing Gel

Because back acne can be tough to shake, it’s important to use a product that contains acne-fighting ingredients.

5. Always Shower After Working Out

Regular cardiovascular exercise can have amazing benefits for the skin, but unfortunately, working out can sometimes result in breakouts. Why? Oftentimes, back acne is a result of friction and sweat. Tight clothing worn during exercise mixed with perspiration can wreak havoc on your skin. Fortunately, you can decrease the chance of back acne by following a few simple practices. 

  • Wear Breathable Fabrics: Always look for workout clothes that have sweat-wicking capabilities. You can find plenty of sports apparel that helps wick the sweat away from your skin. Ladies, be sure to steer clear of cotton sports bras – they can trap the sweat to your skin and lead to breakouts.
  • Shower Immediately: The sooner you can take off those sweaty clothes and hop into the shower the better. The longer the sweat and bacteria sits on your skin, the more likely you are to break out.
  • A Change of Clothes: If you take part in long workouts that contain both cardiovascular and strength training portions, change outfits between the two. It may seem like a pain, but it can make a huge difference. If you can, wipe down in the locker room before throwing on that fresh shirt. Getting as much sweat off as you can before beginning your strength training routine will help you combat that tenacious bacne.

6. Be Wary of Laundry Detergent

Any products that contain fragrances can be tough on the skin. This doesn’t mean just topical treatments like lotion or perfume. Laundry detergent is one of the biggest culprits behind back breakouts. Because fragrance ingredients can irritate and dry out the skin, your skin may become inflamed. As inflammation is a harbinger of acne, you’ll find that certain products may correlate with your breakouts. 

7. Consider Your Shampoo

You might not have pegged your hair care as the culprit behind back acne, but certain products contain comedogenic ingredients that can easily clog up your pores. As you wash out shampoo and conditioner, the remnants drip right down your neck and back – and can easily make their way into your pores. Try switching your hair care products and see if it makes a difference in your back breakouts. Avoid shampoos containing sulfates, and always be sure to read the bottle’s list of ingredients.

8. Take Off Heavy Gear

If you wear a backpack, the pressure it places on your back could be doing your skin a disservice. The same can be said of sports equipment, like shoulder pads for football players, or music equipment, like the strap from a guitar. The friction and sweat caused by the pressure of these types of backpacks and gear can result in what is known as acne mechanica. This is a type of acne that results from a mixture of friction, heat, and pressure. Acne mechanica can be treated with topical treatments, and may clear up on its own with the proper hygiene regimen.

9. Visit a Dermatologist

If you’ve tried all the above skin care tips, and your regular cleansing routine doesn’t rid your back of acne, it may be time to visit a dermatologist. Blemishes left untreated can lead to permanent scarring, so it’s important to receive preventive care as soon as possible. Learning how to treat and prevent acne scarring can help your skin stay smooth and look its best for years to come. 

Your dermatologist or doctor may be able to prescribe you medication or more intense acne treatment options to help prevent painful breakouts.

You don’t have to live with your back acne. With these tips on how to get healthy skin, along with the proper treatment, you can achieve clear, radiant skin on your face, neck, shoulders, and back.

Clearer skin in as little as two weeks.

This 3-step routine combines the most effective (clinically-proven) acne fighting ingredients with powerful plant intelligence to leave your skin nourished, refreshed, and clear.

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Abby Vinas

Abby Vinas

Abby Vinas has long been an active member of the holistic health community, advocating in favor of its benefits to both our physical and emotional well-being. Her commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle has made her an authority on self-care practices. Abby is passionate about fitness, nutrition, and proper skincare, and is also an avid lover of avocado toast and dog-petting.

  • Mj on

    I just recently started getting bacne, I’m not surprised I have it due to the amount of natural oil I produce and I have normal day to day acne caused from hormones. I’m only 14 so I understand my acne start up. But its super annoying and nothing seems to clear it up.

  • anonymous on

    well, it sucks getting bacne because i’m super super self conscious about it. i feel like people stare & find it gross

  • cha on


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  • jenna on

    i have tried everything still nothing works and i have a date in 2 days

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