Want to know the secrets for how to get rid of bacne once and for all? Back acne is annoying at best and painful at worst, and almost everyone's had it at some point or other, so you're not alone! Bring on the tank tops and backless dresses, though, because we're ready to fight back! We talked to top dermatologists and skin-care experts to find out how to get rid of bacne once and for all. Here, discover 15 expert tips for how to get rid of back acne.
1. Exfoliate Regularly
"Like the face, one’s upper torso and back have more sebaceous (oil-producing) glands than any other area of the body, which means it produces more of the skin’s natural oil, increasing the likelihood of developing body acne in these areas. Exfoliating on a regular basis is also important since the skin cells on the back may not slough off as efficiently as needed and that pile-up can aggravate acne," says Doris Day, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Try Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub, $9.49.
2. Wear Clothing That Breathes
"Any skin irritation (like sweat) can exacerbate outbreaks. It’s important to stay away from tight clothing to minimize friction, especially when perspiring. Certain materials, like those that absorb sweat from the skin, will also reduce irritation. Lighter colors and cotton are ideal, especially during workouts," says Day.
3. Spot-Treat Bacne
Spot treatments and masks aren't just for your face — they can be a targeted way to tackle bacne breakouts, too. Esthetician and skin-care expert Renée Rouleau recommends using a mask with ingredients like sulfur, camphor, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and clay, like her Rapid Response Detox Masque ($65.50). You can also use spot treatments that you would normally use on your face on your bod. For breakouts that are close to the surface, try Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion ($17) for an overnight fix. If your bacne is the cystic kind, Rouleau's Anti- Cyst Treatment ($49.50) is a great option.
4. Use an Acne Spray to Hit Weird Angles on Your Back
Getting acne medication on your back can be tricky, but this simple spray can propel its treatment from any angle. Try Murad Clarifying Body Spray, $44.
5. Try Cleansing Pads
Even when you think you’ve gotten your body squeaky clean, one swipe of these cleansing pads can reveal trapped dirt and oil. The discs are saturated with salicylic acid, so they fight breakouts while cleansing. Get a pal to help you rub them on your back! Try Oxy Daily Defense Cleansing Pads, $12.45.
6. Shower Right After Working Out
One of the reasons bacne happens is because we're busy being so awesome and healthy working up a sweat! "Breakouts on the back and body can be exacerbated by working out or sweating more," explains Renée. Whenever possible, shower right after exercising to help remove sweat that may be irritating the skin and causing clogged pores on your back.
7. Use Specially Formulated Cleansers
Take advantage of cleansers made specifically to fight bacne, like the CeraVe Salicylic Acid Body Wash ($11.04). As the name suggests, this cleanser deposits salicylic acid wherever you need it most, leaving you feeling ultra-clean and helping you to fight acne all over your body. Another option is to use a benzoyl peroxide–laced wash, like PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash ($9.49).
If body washes are more your style, try Murad’s Acne Body Wash, $44. The trifecta of salicylic acid, green tea, and licorice root extract reduces redness, soothes inflammation, and unclogs pores. If you're still not seeing results with OTC products, ask your dermatologist about prescription-strength washes, too.
8. Use a Cleansing Brush
Scrubbing your back seems basically impossible, until you try Clarisonic’s body brush — it deep cleans even tough skin around your upper shoulders. The extending handle allows you to easily get to hard-to-reach areas. Try the Clarisonic Mia Smart Deluxe Acne Prevention Kit, $169.
9. Don't Let Conditioner Sit on Your Back
Sometimes how we wash our hair is to blame for bacne. When conditioner-coated hair sits directly on our backs, it seeps into the skin — and that can actually be the cause of back and body acne. So the answer to how to get rid of bacne might be as simple as clipping your hair up if you're going to let a conditioner sit in it for a bit. It's also important to keep it off your back after the shower, too. Even though you've rinsed, the freshly conditioned hair can irritate sensitive, acne-prone skin.
10. Don't Pick at Zits on Your Back
As with regular acne, avoid picking any bacne or body acne. Just like with your face, picking acne on your body can spread bacteria and cause more pimples, as well as lead to scarring (and no one wants to deal with that).
11. Wash Your Sheets and Workout Gear Regularly
Sheets and recycled workout gear can be a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Make sure to wash your sheets frequently and avoid the temptation to re-wear your sports bra or tank for more than one sweat sesh.
12. Schedule a Back Facial
"As someone who has struggled with back acne during my teenage years, I am very familiar with this troubling condition," says Renée. "While there are great things you can do for yourself at home, to get even better results, schedule an appointment to get a back treatment with a skin-care professional." Unlike a DIY treatment, a back facial with a licensed esthetician will deep-clean clogged pores, as well as give a powerful, professional-strength exfoliation to boost the results of your home care.
13. Treat Acne From the Inside Out
"Back acne is a real challenge to treat," says New York City–based board- certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman. For one thing, "the thickness of the dermis on the back is the thickest of anywhere on the body, so the penetration of products that you apply topically can only do so much," she says. If you have been following the above steps for treating bacne, and you’re still not seeing improvement, you might want to consult a derm who can prescribe oral antibiotics — and in even more severe cases, Accutane. "Some cases of back acne, particularly those with extreme cystic acne, may find that antibiotics are more powerful and may be needed to avoid long-term scarring," adds Renée.
14. Incorporate Probiotics Into Your Diet and Skin-Care Routine
Whether you add fermented foods (which are naturally rich in probiotics) like kimchi, miso, yogurt, and kefir, or take a daily supplement, probiotics can boost the health of the skin's microbiome. "Taking an oral probiotic daily really does help to not only reset the gastrointestinal flora, but can actually help the skin flora as well," says Engelman. Luckily, probiotic supplements are readily available thanks to brands like Olly ($12.42)and Tula ($39), at a variety of price points.
15. Opt for Oil-Free Sunscreen
Last but not least on our list of solutions for how to get rid of back acne is switching out your sunscreen. Whenever you choose a sunscreen, opt for one that says "non-comedogenic." That means the sunscreen is oil-free and specifically formulated not to block pores.