acne on back

Possible causes for acne on your back and how to stop it

The good news is that if you have acne, you are far from alone.

In the UK, around 95% of the population gets acne at some point in their lives. Of those people, over half get acne on their back, sometimes colloquially referred to as “bacne”.1

Read on for possible causes of this type of body acne.

The six different types of acne (in a nutshell)

There are six types of spots that can develop due to acne; these can occur on the face, back or chest:2

1. Blackheads

Blackheads can be black or yellow and are usually small. The black colour does not come from dirt in the pores (as is commonly thought) but from the follicle itself.

2. Whiteheads

Whiteheads are similar to blackheads but cannot be emptied by squeezing.

3. Papules

Papules are small red bumps that often feel sore and cannot be squeezed.

4. Pustules

Pustules are commonly referred to as whiteheads as they are caused by pus, which gives the tip a white appearance.

5. Nodules

Nodules are often painful, hard lumps under the surface of the skin.

6. Cysts

Cysts might also be referred to as boils. These are large and full of pus.

Acne on back

Back acne can be especially painful and worrying, especially if the spots are mainly the pus-filled type.

As we have to wear clothes most of the time, back spots can get especially irritated or even burst.

Some good tips for management of “bacne” include:3
  • Showering straight after sweaty exercise and carrying a change of clothes if you generally perspire a lot.
  • Don’t pick! Tempting as it may be, it could lead to scarring, inflammation or infection.
  • Moisturizing if you need to, using a fragrance-free acne-friendly cream.
  • Keeping long hair clean and off your skin.
  • Don’t wash too much (up to twice a day is OK) as this can cause skin irritation.
  • Using an acne body wash with salicyclic acid or glycolic acid in it as part of your daily routine, and try an occasional gentle scrub (no more than a couple of times a week).4

Acne treatments

The answer to the question, “how to get rid of spots on back?” is that back acne treatment is the same as those for any other type of acne.

Most adult acne treatments are the same as for teenagers.5 Moderate or severe acne (sometimes known as cystic acne) will require a prior assessment from your GP. The NHS currently lists the following prescription-only medications for moderate to severe acne:6
  • Topical retinoids
  • Antibiotics - for acne antibiotics come as a gel to apply directly onto the skin
  • Azelaic acid - if benzoyl peroxide or retinoids do not work, or if their side effects are severe
  • Antibiotic tablets - sometimes used in conjunction with topical antibiotics for very bad cases of acne
  • the combined oral contraceptive pill - the hormones help acne clear up in some women

Last updated: 19 October 2020

AcneAcne & Problem SkinSkin Health