Fighting Back Against Backne



While most of us are familiar with the embarrassment and irritation caused by facial acne, its less obvious sidekick, backne, is no less cause for disappointment. Backne, or back acne, is a troublesome condition where acne develops on the back and/or shoulders of a patient. In addition to the face and chest, the back is one of the body's major oil-producing areas, making it especially prone to acne. But what sets backne apart from other forms of acne? How do we go about treating it?

Backne Causes

First of all, the causes of backne are often the same as those of facial acne:

  • Genetic factors
  • Hormonal changes
  • Excess of dead skin cells clogging hair follicles
  • Excess of oil (sebum) and acne-causing bacteria

Hormonal changes typically refer to an increase in androgens, which usually happens during puberty. Androgens are male hormones present in both men and women that cause the skin's oil (sebaceous) glands to enlarge and ratchet up oil production. According to, close to 2/3 of patients with facial acne also have some backne, backne tends to be more prevalent in men, and about 20% of healthy adult males experience backne.

What to Know About Treating Backne

When it comes to treating backne, most of the prescription facial acne medications can be effective, but the results can differ for a few reasons:

  • The skin on the back is much thicker than facial skin, making it slightly harder for treatments to take effect.
  • Sebaceous glands on the back are much larger, and occasionally more active, than the oil glands on the face. Greater oil production can lead to the development of more inflamed, severe acne, which takes longer to treat.
  • The skin on the back is often subjected to a lot of irritation that the face is not. From tight-fitting shirts, bras and sweaters, to chafing backpacks and chair backs, to rough scrubbing from loofahs and sponges in the shower, our backs come in contact with a lot of objects and materials that can greatly irritate backne.

What Can You Do?

So, what can you do about backne? Well, before you rely on a prescription medication to solve your acne problems, there are many methods you can implement yourself to diminish the effects or the onset of backne.

  • Wear breathable clothing materials as often as possible, such as cotton.
  • Try and switch out a backpack, if you currently use one, with a shoulder bag or a briefcase with a shoulder strap to minimize rubbing contact.
  • Be aware of any clothing dyes or chemical irritants that exacerbate your backne; even some of the topical acne solutions might be too harsh and have a reverse negative effect on your skin. Carefully monitor the progress of all backne treatments you use.
  • Since sweat can further compound problems of excess oil and clogged pores, try to shower immediately after workouts or intense exercise.
  • In the shower, use a gentle soap or body wash, preferably one with salicylic acid, and ditch the harsh loofahs or sponges.

Professional Backne Treatments

O.k., so you've done everything you can possibly think of to clear up the skin on your back, but that awful backne has persisted. It's time to turn to a professional dermatologist or cosmetic skin care provider.

Prescription medications for facial acne, both topical creams and oral medications, are also recommended for treating backne. However, you might have to try a few of these to find the one that works for you, and the results could take some time. For those who are seeking more immediate backne-clearing results, and who don't want to deal with messy creams or frequent pill-popping, cosmetic procedures for skin rejuvenation might be the answer. These are some popular non-surgical skin treatments that have proven effective against acne, on the face and body:

No matter what method of backne treatment you choose, know that your first defense against problem skin will always be good hygiene, proper nutrition, and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. And remember, before choosing a medical or cosmetic backne treatment, it's best to consult first with your doctor or qualified cosmetic specialist.

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