How to Tackle Stubborn Back Acne

POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly
POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly
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While body acne is a reality that millions of people face year-round, there is a lot of stigma and shame that comes from wearing clothing that shows it off in the warmer months. The truth is, no matter how intense your beauty regimen, back acne can flare up at any time, and there are a multitude of reasons from genetics to the products you're using. But that shouldn't stop you from wearing a tank top if you choose to.

The first step to treating any breakout is pinning down what's causing it in the first place. Then, you can go from there to take the necessary next steps to get rid of back acne and keep your skin in the clear. That's why we're answering all of your burning questions about the flare-ups on this common area — from common causes, the best back-acne products and treatments, and how to keep it from coming back for good.

What Causes Back Acne?

Back acne, like you might have guessed, is acne that develops on the back area of the body. It can present itself in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, or even cysts, and is often the result of common culprits of any acne including hormones, stress, increased oil production, and dead skin cells caught in the pores. In the summer months specifically, "[it] can be a result of excessive sweating and friction in the area," dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, previously told POPSUGAR. "Compressive undergarments, lack of showering, and other poor hygiene habits could also be the cause."

At times, it can be difficult to pin down exactly what is causing acne on the back, but there are a few steps you can take to minimize bacne altogether.

POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly

How to Prevent Back Acne

Tip: Change Your Linens Often
You should be changing your sheets at least once a week to avoid snuggling up in oil and dirt. Since movement in your sleep puts pressure on your skin that leads to friction, you want your linens to be clean and bacteria-free. We recommend making your own DIY linen spray with germ-fighting essential oils, vodka, and vinegar and spraying it on your sheets between washes.

Tip: Exfoliate Weekly
Exfoliating — whether chemical or physical — is an effective way to relieve bacne, but it's also a preventative measure as well because it sloughs off dead cells and makes room for healthy, strong skin. This should be a biweekly practice because exfoliating too often can irritate the skin.

Since back skin isn't usually as sensitive as what's on your face, many people can treat themselves to a hearty body scrub to slough off dead skin and debris.

Protect Your Back From Your Hair

Many of us produce more oil when it's warm because the heat increases oil production in our sebum glands. If you also feed your dry hair heavy treatments, any excess oil in that product can lead to bacne when it touches your skin because of bacteria buildup clogging your pores. Stay away from common comedogenic ingredients in your hair-care products like coconut oil, avocado oil, marula oil, moringa oil, among others.

You may also want to keep your hair tilted while you wash and especially condition it. This keeps any potential pore-clogging ingredients off your body, which protects your back. After you shower, style with a towel to avoid any drippage from damp ends. One secret is using the same moisturizing agent on your hair that you do on your face — coconut oil will hydrate both.

Tip 3: Wear Loose Clothing

Tight clothes and backpacks cause friction that leads to pimples. Naturally, if you're sweating up a storm, that's only going to contribute to the horror that is bacne. Do yourself a favor and opt for looser shirts and dresses on those particularly hot days. If you must put on that body-con dress, stick to natural, breathable materials like cotton or silk.

Best Products For Back Acne

There are a few products that are known for helping with back-acne issues. Typically, products with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are great for getting rid of and preventing future back acne. Consider switching to a body wash like the CeraVe Body Wash With Salicylic Acid ($13) or the Panoxyl Acne Foaming Wash ($9), which has benzoyl peroxide and will help fight stubborn bacne.

If you're looking for a back-acne-safe moisturizer, the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($17) is known for being gentle and noncomedogenic (which means it won't cause breakouts) and also hydrating at the same time.

POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly

Home Remedies For Back Acne

Sweat It Out
Your sweat is a concoction of oil, dead skins cells, and bacteria that clogs pores. That's why it's essential to rinse off after a particularly sweaty day. The good news is that perspiring is a great way to purge bacteria from your pores, but make sure that you wash away those impurities away so it's not reabsorbed through the skin. If you can't get to a shower right after exercising, don't fret — just stash an oil-controlling body spray like this Etsy Toning Mist ($18) in your gym bag for post-workout touch-ups.

Get Your Steam On
The heat from a steaming shower can help soften your pores before you apply body wash, so the active ingredients better penetrate the skin. A mild steam treatment works to soften and draw blackheads up from the surface and to help flush out excess oil. Just don't steam for too long — a maximum of 15 minutes is recommended.

Depending on where you live, hard water might flow out of your pipes. Your state's water-testing records are part of the public record, so you can check them online. If you find that your water supply includes impurities such as chlorine or radon, you should consider investing in a stabilizing Shower Water Filter ($20).