If you suffer from back acne – or bacne – then you will know that it is unpleasant – it’s painful, leaves scars and can make taking your top off at the beach or swimming pool embarrassing. It’s likely you’ll have tried all of the over the counter products on the market – after all there are plenty of advice and treatments options out there promising quick fixes or perfect results, but what really works? We take a look at some of the ways you can help alleviate your back acne as well as our recommended solutions for treating bacne effectively.
What causes bacne?
Back acne has similar causes to face acne (acne vulgaris). An overactive sebaceous gland is to blame – this is a small gland in the skin that secretes sebum (oil). This oil is released into the hair follicles to lubricate the skin and hair. When this gland is overactive it releases more oil than you need, leading to the follicles becoming clogged with dead skin cells and oil, resulting in blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, greasy skin and even scarring. The lesions can be more severe on the back or chest.
This can be caused by hormonal changes, hereditary factors, and medication. Bacne is more common in men than women and can affect adults as well as teenagers.
This is a great first step to take as a good exfoliator will scrub away the dead skin cells which are clogging the pores and hair follicles, causing the blockages and irritation.
It is important, however, to exfoliate correctly to prevent further scarring, and if you have inflammatory acne such as pustules or cysts then you should consult an expert first. If in doubt then visit a skin specialist to ensure you are using the correct exfoliator for your skin.
Although poor diet does not cause acne, there are certain foods that are known to aggravate it. Greasy junk food clogs the skin and is best avoided when trying to treat bacne, or any spots really. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a much better fuel when wanting to keep a clear skin. There are many food bloggers who suggest avoiding dairy as a way to combat bad skin. This may or may not work for you, so it is worth cutting out certain foods for one-two weeks at a time and see if this has any affects.
Zinc is known to boost the immune system, and is certainly beneficial in clearing up the skin. Take daily vitamin tablets that contains zinc picolinate.
Exercise is great for the body and soul – sweating opens your pores, while getting the blood pumping will nourish your skin. However trapped sweat is just going to exacerbate bacne. After a workout, shower thoroughly and pat dry your back. Make sure during workouts that you wear breathable clothing designed to be sweated in, that can absorb the moisture better than an average t-shirt.
We’ve just mentioned sportswear, but also consider wearing lighter, looser clothing. Aim for breathable fabrics; natural fibers such as cotton are much more comfortable for bacne sufferers. Wash clothes regularly, and with gentle detergents that are not fragranced as perfumed detergents irritate sensitive skin. For women, make sure you wear natural fibered bras, again cotton is ideal, and wash them regularly as bra straps are easily covered in bacteria. Some find the bacne is worse under the bra straps which is very irritating.
When showering, make sure you have thoroughly washed off any products such as shampoo or conditioner. Conditioner which has washed out of the hair for example, may still be on the body and will really clog up pores. Cool the water down when you rinse out your conditioner, as heat opens the pores more. Also consider conditioning the hair, and then washing your body last.
Wash your bedsheets regularly as well. A lot of bacteria and dust can build up on those sheets. Consider showering before bed and if you have pets, do not allow them to sleep on or in the bed.
Treatments for back acne that really work
The lifestyle changes mentioned above may help you with managing your back acne, but you should also visit a skin specialist who will be able to create a tailored treatment plan for you, rather than relying on over the counter medications and lotions. There are a lot of specialised treatments out there that will ease the visible effects of bacne, as well as reduce the discomfort.
Skin peels specifically designed for managing acne will help relieve and prevent body acne and get to those hard to reach areas you may struggle to treat at home. The treatment will effectively remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, leaving skin smooth and refreshed.
Omnilux Light Therapy is a clinically proven treatment and works at the source to neutralize the bacteria. Other products include non-prescription cosmeceuticals that will help correct your skin.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), or laser skin rejuvenation is a proven treatment that soothes skin, boosts collagen levels and smooths out skin texture, making it ideal for acne sufferers.
A skin expert will be able to help you choose the treatment that works best for you, so always consult a specialist first, but here are the phrases and ingredients you should be looking for in products:
- Salicylic acid –In a body wash, 2% salicylic acid acts to slow the rate of skin cell renewal, effectively stopping new cells clogging pores and hair follicles.
- Non-comedogenic – this means it is deliberately designed to not clog pores, the common denominator in bacne.
- Benzoyl peroxide – products containing benzoyl peroxide penetrate the skin, encouraging the peeling away of the skin to shift skin cells quicker. It also dries out the skin, stopping the overproduction of sebum. This is a strong medication, so avoid products containing more than 5% benzoyl peroxide, as it will irritate sensitive skin and could worsen the problem.