Bacne 101: What Causes Back Acne and How to Treat It


Struggling with adult acne is just plain annoying. Have you ever noticed a zit appearing on your forehead and thought “Why? I’m too old for this!”? For me, the most annoying thing about acne is not being able to cover them. And that’s where the horror of bacne comes to life. These pimples on my back and shoulders have been an issue for quite some time and throughout the years I’ve done a ton of research on them. I’ve been meaning to write a post for so long, and since it’s summertime, my bacne made a comeback and acted as a little reminder for my blog’s skin care category. Yeah, not fun at all! I may sound dramatic and make it look like my whole back is covered in zits, but truth is I get a few pimples and cystic acne on my back and shoulders. And that’s totally enough to make me feel uncomfortable and too embarrassed to wear tank tops & summer dresses.

So what exactly is bacne and how do I treat it? Keep on reading to learn more!

What is bacne?

The word itself says it – acne that appears on the back. The term bacne can also refer to breakouts on the shoulders, back, chest, bottom and even stomach– basically all acne aside from the ones on the face area. They come around in various forms: blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, pustules and cysts.

What causes bacne?

Bacne is triggered by the same factors that cause regular face acne. Sebaceous glands on the face and body produce oil called sebum, and changes in the secretion of this oil can lead to breakouts. The skin on your face, back and chest has more sebaceous glands than the rest of your body, so pimples are more likely to appear on these areas.

During the summer the skin is more exposed to environmental elements and it’s more likely to pick up bacteria now than any other season. Basically, sebum overproduction, bacteria and dead skin cells build up can clog your pores and boost the appearance of acne.

Other factors include genetics and hormones. If you already have acne prone skin, the cause might be in your genetic predispositions. If you’re experiencing hormonal changes the chances of breaking out are higher. Either way, you can always focus on your skin care regimen and try to prevent further breakouts.

Daily activities that trigger acne


Are you regularly exfoliating your skin? Scrubbing the dead skin cells away can do WONDERS for your skin (I’m not even exaggerating). Oils, bacteria and dead skin cells build up can clog pores, cause acne and make your skin rough and unhealthy. By doing regular scrubs you’re thoroughly cleaning your pores and preventing issues. The skin on your face is thinner, so having a scrub once to three times a week is enough. The skin on your back and body however is thicker and you can exfoliate more often without creating any irritation. You can exfoliate using an anti-acne body wash applied on a loofah, bath gloves or an exfoliating body brush.

I personally love this step and swear by it! The acne on my back and shoulders start disappearing a week into regular exfoliation and my skin gets so soft, smooth and renewed. My weapon of choice is a long handled body brush – it’s best for scrubbing hard to reach areas and you can make sure your back is thoroughly washed.


Sweating and walking around in sweat – soaked clothing are huge factors in the appearance of back acne. Try to keep things clean and shower immediately after your workout.

If you sweat too much in your sleep, make sure to put on clean pyjamas each night. Remember to change your pillowcases and bed sheets every three days to keep the bacteria away. Shower in the morning and night and always use clean, dry cotton towels. Overall, since the weather is hot and you’re getting a lot more sweaty, focus on your hygiene basics and keep the sweat away from your pores.


Don’t wear fabrics that will make you sweat more (polyester, viscose, nylon). Wear comfortable, breathable fabrics – cotton is best for irritated skin. Put on a fresh, clean bra every day – bras can get disgusting during hot summer days and you shouldn’t wear the same one twice!

Shower routine

The way you shower has a lot to do with your skin condition. Don’t shower with hot water – the heat can irritate the skin, dry it out and as a result promote the production of sebum. It’s best to keep the water temperature lukewarm or cold.

Be careful with the order of products you use when you shower. Your hair conditioner might be the reason you have bacne! If you apply it and wash your body while it’s in your hair – then rinse off, you’re transferring product on your back and shoulders, causing sebum production. The conditioning properties sliding down your back can be harmful and clog pores, so it’s best to completely wash off all hair products and wash your body last. You can also apply conditioner, clip your hair up and after you’re done rinse it upside down under the stream to prevent the conditioner from running down your back and shoulders. Make sure you rinse well all products because shampoo leftovers can cause dryness and irritation.

Hair care

If your hair is long or gets in touch with your back and shoulders, make sure you wash it regularly. The bacteria from dirty hair can transfer on your skin and cause acne. If it gets greasy too quickly, spray on some dry shampoo and put it up in a bun or a ponytail to keep it away from your skin.


It’s no secret that everything you consume has an impact on your skin. Maintaining a healthy diet will surely give you that beautiful glow and youthful look. Diary, sugar, fast food and junk food are well known acne triggers and just bad for your overall health. To keep your skin clear, avoid these foods or at least reduce the intake. Eat more fruits & veggies and remember to take your vitamins – A, C, K and B vitamins work amazing for the skin (or pick up skin supplements that contain all these vitamins combined). Drink plenty of water (around 8 glasses a day) to hydrate your skin, get rid of toxins and improve your health.

Chemicals in products

If your skin is extremely sensitive and gets irritated easily you might need to take a step further and change your laundry detergent. A lot of detergents contain chemicals that can dry out your skin and cause issues like rashes and acne. Same goes for body washes and soaps – some contain chemicals that can irritate the skin, so it’s best to avoid harsh soaps. If your skin feels very dry and itchy after a shower, switch your products to natural soaps or use a PH balanced body wash.

*If you have painful, severe acne that don’t go away and nothing works, visit a dermatologist to get the appropriate treatment and prescription medication.


Products containing BHAs and AHAs

BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) work by unclogging the pores, exfoliating and deep cleaning all gunk and dead skin cells. They’re very effective in battling acne, blackheads and blemishes and work great for oily, acne prone skin. The most common BHA is salicylic acid and this is the right acid to look for when choosing anti – acne products. This skin perfecting liquid by Paula’s Choice is so far the most recommended and works for all skin types.

AHAs work in similar ways, have exfoliating properties and are great for maintaining bright, glowy skin and polishing away dullness. You can use AHAs daily as a part of your shower routine, just pick a body wash that contains it – the A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap by Mario Badescu and this one by Neutrogena are really good.

Anti- acne sprays

Body sprays are great for bacne – instead of struggling to reach your back and apply creams or spot treatments, you can just spray the product and let it work. The Murad Acne Clarifying Body Spray is amazing as well as this Mario Badescu cult product – the facial spray with aloe herbs and rosewater. The tea tree toner by Lush is also great for healing bacne. These spray treatments are best to use on clean, dry skin, right after showering with an anti – acne body wash.

Anti – acne pads

Perfect for travelling and busy days – just swipe your back with an anti – acne pad whenever you feel sweat running down your back to clean your pores and prevent breakouts. Products that stand out: Proactiv Clear Zone Body Pads and Neutrogena Rapid Clear Treatment Pads.

Anti – acne soaps

My personal favorite, this anti – acne soap bar by Lush has cleared out my adult acne and I’ve purchased it three times so far! It’s perfect for sensitive skin and the thing I love about it the most is that it actually prevents further breakouts. Works amazing on my face but it’s a bit hard to use on my back – I rub it on my body brush and transfer the lather on my back with it. It works so well, I even did a full review on it. Another praised acne clearing soap that I’d so love to try: the African Black soap.

Back facials

Yes, there’s a thing called “back facials”! Basically, it’s a facial that’s done on your back by an esthetician. These treatments can be very painful and uncomfortable, but they actually work, so you might consider making an appointment at your nearest spa place.

Don’t overtreat

You have to be careful when using acids and anti – acne treatments and not use tons of products all at once. Although the skin on your back is thicker, combining a lot of products and applying layers can irritate your skin and make your acne worse. Keep things simple and use an anti – acne body wash combined with acne treatment of your choice.

Be consistent

Most products don’t work overnight or after days of using. Stay consistent to your routine and be patient, the results should be showing within 2 – 3 weeks of use.

Natural treatments

If you’re all about DIY treatments and homemade products, you can use some natural remedies to fight your bacne. Here are some of nature’s best treatments for clearing acne, containing antioxidant, anti – inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Tea tree oil

Add 3-4 drops of tea tree oil in a ½ cup of water and mix well. Soak a cotton pad and swipe on acne.

Witch hazel

Pour witch hazel on a cotton ball and wipe acne affected areas.

Apple cider vinegar

Mix ½ cup of water with ½ cup of vinegar, shake well and apply it with a cotton ball as a toner.

Honey + lemon

Squeeze half a lemon and mix the juice with one tablespoon of honey. Apply the mixture on clear skin, leave it on for 20 minutes and rinse off with lukewarm water.

Honey + cinnamon

Mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, leave it on for 20 minutes and rinse off with lukewarm water.

Aloe gel

Scrape out the gel from an aloe plant and apply to acne or buy a pure aloe gel and use it on affected areas.

Sea salt baths

Add a cup of sea salts while the tap is still running, lay back and enjoy the healing properties!

Overall, everyone’s skin is different and the products that work for me might not be the best of you. Start with finding out what’s causing your bacne, try to eliminate the triggers one by one and find the products that work best for you. Once you start seeing positive results, stick to that skin care routine and be persistent. Battling acne is truly frustrating, but I promise, you will fight them off and get your clear skin back!


Are you struggling with bacne? What works best for you? Do you have any tips to share? Let me know in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a few cents for every purchase through these links. It won’t cost you anything extra but will support my blog! 🙂


30 thoughts on “Bacne 101: What Causes Back Acne and How to Treat It

  1. Great information!
    I hate backne and all acne for that matter! My main issue is overtreatment. I’m very reactive when I see something pop up.

  2. So much good info here. I used to condition my hair last and had annoying bacne. Then I clued in and did all hair stuff first with a good scrub to remove any conditioner from my skin. A World of difference!!

  3. Love the natural treatment ideas here! I had some breakouts from working out and my sports bra straps, and also from the conditioner… too bad I like long hot showers, lol. Now I wash my body last like you suggested and it makes all the difference!

  4. This is all really helpful information! Although, I find when I’m in the sun I have better skin. But I’m also fair skinned and freckled, so I really don’t have many problems with acne.

  5. thanks a lot for that usefull informations ,,acne is really big problem and ı hate them ,,When they occur on my skin they look bigger than another people’s acness

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