Overview

Pimples can be a challenge to treat, no matter where you get them. Unfortunately, getting pimples isn’t limited to your teen years. Acne can happen at any age for a variety of reasons. Pimples can appear on any part of your body, including your back. But it’s possible to clear up those blemishes. Here’s how:

What causes back acne?

There are many reasons people get acne, so it’s important to know why and how pimples form.

Your body produces an oil called sebum. It’s made in the glands connected to your hair follicles. Sebum moves up the hair follicles to add moisture to your skin and hair. Pimples form when extra sebum and dead skin cells build up. This buildup blocks skin pores and bacteria. When the hair follicle wall swells out, it forms a whitehead pimple. When the clogged pore gets exposed to air, blackhead pimples form.

Some common causes of acne are:

  • Genetics: Trouble with acne can run in your family.
  • Diet: Some research shows that foods you eat could be linked to acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there is some evidence that certain carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, potato chips) known to increase your blood sugar levels can also contribute to acne. For some, dairy products might also be a trigger. However, restricting foods has not been proven to be effective in actually treating acne.
  • Medications: Acne can develop as a side effect of some medicines like certain antidepressants.
  • Hormones: Hormonal changes in the teenage years are often the cause of acne. But for women past puberty, pimple outbreaks can be linked to hormonal changes that happen during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Sweat: Sweat, especially if it’s trapped under tight clothing, can make acne worse.
  • Stress: Stress isn’t a direct cause of acne, but it could be a contributing factor.

Treatments for back acne

In most cases, you can get rid of acne by making some lifestyle changes and using at-home remedies. Here are some things you can do to get rid of back acne:

1. Shower after a workout

Letting the sweat and dirt sit on your skin after a workout can be a big contributor to back acne. Shower as soon as you can after a workout. You should also wash those sweaty workout clothes between sweat sessions.

2. Exfoliate

Use a gentle exfoliating scrub with ingredients such as salicylic acid to remove extra dirt and oils from your skin. This can help reduce the amount of dead skin that could clog pores.

3. Wear loose-fitting clothing

Your workout habits can irritate back acne. For example, tight clothing can trap dirt and sweat and rub it into your pores. Working out with no shirt against a sweaty gym machine or on a dirty floor, can also cause problems.

Go for loose-fitting clothing that lets your skin breathe and helps wick away sweat.

4. Try tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is made from the leaves of a tree in Australia. It’s been used by Australians for years to treat a variety of skin issues. Today, you can find many lotions, cleansers, and creams using the ingredient.

There is some evidence to suggest it might help in treating acne by killing extra bacteria.

5. Keep hair off your back

Long hair may be adding oil and dirt to the skin on your back, causing acne outbreaks. Wash your hair regularly, and put it in a bun or ponytail during sweat sessions. Also, don’t allow conditioner or shampoo to run down your back. Ingredients in these products can contribute to clogged pores.

6. Choose sunscreen carefully

Protecting your skin from damaging sun is important, especially if you’re exposing your bare back. But greasy sunscreen can also contribute to clogging pores. Make sure to choose products that are oil-free and light on the skin.

7. Eat healthy

Ever heard the expression “you are what you eat?” An unhealthy diet can affect our bodies in a variety of ways. If you’re prone to acne, certain foods could be triggers. Research shows that foods high on the glycemic index (GI), meaning they cause your blood sugar to rise quickly, may make acne worse. These foods include white breads, white pasta and rice, and white potatoes. It’s a good policy to practice eating a healthy, balanced diet with lots of:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • lean protein
  • whole grains

Medications for back acne

Some people need a little extra help when it comes to clearing up acne. If you’ve tried home remedies and aren’t getting relief, a dermatologist can prescribe oral medications or medicated creams. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in skin conditions, so they can also help you to find out the causes and triggers for your back acne.

Outlook

Back acne is a treatable condition. Most people can get relief by using at-home treatments. However, if your acne is severe or the pimples are very large, you might need treatment from a doctor.