‘Bacne blues’: When you’ve got pimples on your back


His face is smooth; his arms and legs are flawless, too!  But come swimming time, he gets a lot of surprised looks when people see the multitude of pimples all over his back and on the back of his neck and a little more on his chest. Why so many pimples on his back? They’re so red, rough and inflamed.  Such a nasty state of affairs; especially when the weather is so warm and he gets itchy all over.

Apparently, blackheads and pimples are not exclusive on the face alone.  Many people patiently treat their facial acne diligently, but the back part?  Well, understandably, the back is not easily accessible.  So what?

Well, the back is made up of numerous sebaceous glands which produces much oil and the fact that our back part is usually covered, plus less accessible during clean-up time, it is logical to think that our skin pores on the back part get clogged with dirt and sweat; more so when a person is quite active and sweats a lot.

Inside the pore are sebaceous glands which produce sebum that causes the blockage in the pore together with dead skin cells.  After some time more sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands and it builds up behind the blockage, harbors various bacteria causing infection and inflammation.  That is why they become red and painful to twitch.

Back acne or what is also otherwise known as athletic acne is harder to treat although not really impossible.  Research also tell us that back acne may be also due to hormonal changes and strenuous physical activity.   According to the Acne Resource Center, contrary to common belief, there is no proof that stress, oily or fatty foods, tight clothing, excessive sweating, heavy backpacks  and even genes  play a role in the causes of back acne, but it is very likely that back acne (or bacne) is worsened by the earlier mentioned items.

What to do:

  • Have a balanced diet and avoid fast food
  • Drink lots of water
  • Exercise regularly but not strenuously
  • Take a bath and use salicylic soap and scrub to remove the sweat, dirt and grime from your skin
  • Treat your back acne with salicylic acid as cleanser
  • Apply acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide
  • Apply clay mask at least once a week to detoxify and deep cleanse your skin.  Clay masks  draw out impurities and control those excess oil.
  • Never get dressed without completely drying your back first
  • Make sure to apply sunscreen before exposing   your back (if you’re going topless at the beach or planning to sun bathe)
  • Avoid cramped and clammy surroundings and refrain from cooking if possible to avoid aggravation and increase of clogged pores
  • For severe and inflamed acne, a prescription medication  like isotretinoin (which is a retinoid), is necessary to treat your acne and pimples.  Always best to see your dermatologist if you have severe acne because you may be needing antibiotics,  topical retinoids or injections of cortisone.

These  guidelines will help in getting rid of toxins and extra hormones to balance your whole body system; plus regular exercise  to improve blood circulation and for your  skin to absorb more oxygen thereby giving it a healthier glow.

If you are athletic or literally, an athlete, strenuous exercise is undoubtedly unavoidable.  Therefore, it is of paramount importance that profuse sweating be dealt with accordingly by using light and non-clinging clothing because woolen and other thick materials could trap the sweat and irritate the skin. Instead of using small towels to wipe off your sweat, it would better to use baby-soft fabrics like bird’s-eye, cotton fleece or hemp French terry to avoid further acne aggravation.  If you already have acne on your back, these could worsen and become inflamed with use of rough fabric materials.