Back to the Basics: Crucial Tips for Preventing Back
Acne is a widespread problem affecting millions of people
It occurs when pores or hair follicles in the skin are blocked,
usually due to excess sebum production or to dead cells that are retained on the
skin’s surface when they would normally slough off.
When a pore becomes blocked, sebum and natural bacteria are trapped
within the pore and prevented from coming to the surface of the skin.
While many experts remain unsure of bacteria’s actual role in
creating inflammation, it is generally agreed that bacterial action within the pore
triggers an immune system reaction, causing the redness and discomfort associated
When you hear the word "acne," most people picture blackheads,
pimples, and pustules on the face. But acne doesn’t stop at the jaw
line. In fact, the greatest concentrations of sebaceous glands are found not
only on the face, but also on the chest, back, and upper outer arms, too. A
person's back has thousands more sebaceous glands than their face, so it is no
wonder that back acne can be a problem!
Despite the many acne treatment products on the market, controlling
back acne can be an entirely different story than treating acne on one’s
face. So what’s the scoop?
There are several differences between back and face acne that one
should be aware of when trying to treat an acne problem. For starters, the
skin on the back is one of the thickest on your body, so you can afford to be less
gentle when treating it. Also, less is understood about back acne than facial
acne. While the severity of facial acne can be related to genetics or food
allergies, this isn't the case with back acne. Furthermore, back acne is not
generally worsened by mental or emotional stress.
Prevention is one step to consider when suffering from back acne;
stopping a problem before it starts is the best and easiest acne plan!
Clothing especially can play a large role in causing breakouts on
the back by trapping perspiration and bacteria close to the skin. By choosing
to wear loose, light clothing, sweat is then limited which can reduce the
likelihood of back acne developing. Also, certain materials can irritate the
skin, regardless of the activity level of the wearer. For instance, lycra
doesn't breathe very well, allowing sweat and bacteria to collect on the skin and
remain there; also, wool is a very rough material that can irritate existing acne
and make the problem worse. Laundry detergents and fabric softeners can
aggravate the skin and complicate acne. Finally, backpacks can cause and trap
sweat or rub against your skin, and may need to be traded for a shoulder-bag or
handle-bag if back acne is a problem.
Despite all these tips on acne prevention, there is no denying that
preventing back acne can be harder than it seems; there will almost always be some
form of clothing or material touching your back, whether it be a shirt or bed
sheets or padding on the back of a chair.
For this reason, acne treatment is still very important when one is
trying to get rid of back acne. One positive thing about back acne is that it
can be treated using fairly strong products, since back skin is thought to be less
prone to irritation than skin elsewhere. For instance, 10% benzoyl peroxide
is much too strong for the sensitive skin on the face, but could be a more
appropriate strength for acne treatment on the back. If the type of back acne
is particularly inflammatory and painful, a variety of methods may be used to
target the problem, including antibiotics, cortisone shots, and topical
Some of the same general rules apply to skin care for back acne as
for facial acne. It is recommended that you keep the back clean using a
salicylic or glycolic acid cleanser, and exfoliate away dead skin with a
long-handled scrub brush. The specific acne-prone areas can then be treated
with over-the-counter or prescribed medicine. Some dermatologists also
recommend that you drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated, and eat fairly
healthy foods. While there is no definitive proof that food can trigger back
acne, eating well can't hurt! Back acne isn’t fun, but it can often be
controlled to a large degree, so don't be afraid to go to your doctor to learn
about different methods of acne treatment for problem areas on your back.