At the first glimmer of summer, Floridians quickly grab their swimsuits and tank tops, but a rainy day isn’t the only thing that causes some to cover-up. Bacne, also known as back acne or body acne, is especially common once temperatures begin to rise and people spend more time sweating in the sun.
Like facial acne, bacne is caused by a combination of dirt, oil, and dead skin becomes trapped in pores, causing an inflamed blemish. However, as Lead Esthetician at Winter Park Anti-Aging and Laser Amy Runyan points out, bacne “differs from facial acne in two main ways.” First, the skin on your back is thicker and has larger pores than the skin on your face, making clogged pores more likely. Second, oil-producing glands on the back are more active, so a larger and more stubborn type of acne, known as cystic acne, can develop.
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Though we might not see it as often, the skin on our backs, necks, and shoulders needs the same care and consideration as our face, so a medicated body wash is a great place to start. In the shower, use a cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to soothe inflammation and cut down on bacterial growth.
When exercising or spending time outdoors, make sure to wear loose, breathable clothing. Cotton is preferable because it absorbs sweat, wicking it away from your body where it could clog pores. After an activity, it is imperative to change out of sweaty clothes and take a shower as soon as possible. If you can’t do either, bring some cleansing wipes to rinse off the affected areas—this will buy you some time until you can hit the shower. And don’t forget to change your sheets! The human body is constantly shedding skin cells, even while we sleep, so it is important to wash and change linens regularly.
No matter where acne occurs, everyone agrees on one rule: don’t pick! This is especially true for bacne, since the skin on your back does not regenerate or turnover as often as the skin on your face, making the chances of irritation and scarring much greater. Topical creams containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid will kill bacteria, while lotions with alpha or beta-hydroxy acids will exfoliate dead skin cells. Also, because the back is hard to reach, many companies offer these types of products in spray-on formulations.
If your bacne problem is far below the skin and seems like a hard knot, you may be dealing with a cyst. In this case, and for those suffering from more serious cases of bacne, you should seek the advice of a dermatologist. You may need prescription medications, extractions, or a chemical peel to clear an unusually stubborn case.
Above all, don’t be embarrassed. While it may seem alienating, acne is a familiar foe for most of us. With a little experimenting, and perhaps the help of a professional, you can find a skincare routine that works for you. Plus, even if there are a few spots on your back, nothing shines like confidence.