Do you know that your face is not the only place where you can develop acne? While acne can affect any part of your body that has hair follicles and sebum glands, the most commonly affected site is the back, after the face.
“Acne on the back is referred to as ‘bacne’, which includes any form of acne starting from blackheads to nodules. It’s common among those who have facial acne,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
In this article, let’s understand what causes back acne and how you can treat it.
What Does Back Acne Mean?
As the name suggests, back acne means acne breakout on the back area of your body. Similar to your facial skin, your back skin too contains millions of follicles connected to millions of sebaceous glands  that secrete sebum. When these follicles or skin pores are filled with sebum trapping in dead skin, sweat and bacteria, it leads to inflammation and acne breakout on your back.
“The upper back area has a large number of sweat glands but lacks proper air circulation as it gets covered by our clothes. Hence, the upper back area is more prone to acne breakouts caused by the buildup of sweat and sebum in skin pores when compared to the lower back area,” says Dr. Zeel.
What Does Back Acne Look Like?
- The back acne can be in the form of blackheads which appear as open comedones with a dark brown or black surface on the top.
- The whiteheads formed on your back look like small and closed white-coloured domes.
- Papules formed on your back may appear as red, painful bumps. When these papules develop pus, you can notice a white tip on those bumps which are called pustules.
- Sometimes, your back may also develop cysts that appear as large, painful, pus-filled bumps.
- Your back area is the most common area for nodules which are hard, enclosed, painful lumps beneath your skin.
What Is Back Acne A Sign Of?
Back acne indicates the hyperactivity of your sebaceous glands which leads to excess production of sebum. It also is a sign of poor personal hygiene that eventually leads to the accumulation of sweat and grime along with dead skin in your skin pores.
What Causes Back Acne?
As per Ayurveda, imbalances in any of the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha can lead to skin disease. Acne on the back is primarily caused due to aggravated Pitta and Kapha doshas in your body.
Below, we have listed down the different factors that contribute to dosha imbalances in your body, thus leading to acne formation on the back.
- Excessive intake of gluten and carbohydrate-rich foods  such as breads, pastas, sugars, potato chips, dairy products, soft drinks and other junk foods.
- Hormonal fluctuations and imbalances occurring during adolescence, menstruation or pregnancy.
- Excessive sweating caused due to humid/hot weather or vigorous physical activity or wearing tight and synthetic fabrics during your workouts.
- Certain medications such as antidepressants .
- Lack of proper hygiene, not cleaning the back region properly while taking a bath.
- Not taking a shower post your workout sessions.
- Using uncleaned towels, clothes or gym equipment that comes in direct contact with your back.
How To Get Rid Of Back Acne?
1. Ayurvedic Methods
A. Herbal Treatments
- Doing self-abhyanga with neem oil infused in any carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil can help in controlling aggravated Pitta and Kapha doshas in your skin. However, use a little amount of oil for abhyanga when you have pus-filled pimples or cystic acne on your back.
- Use herbal body cleansers made of neem, turmeric, manjistha, sandalwood, etc. to cleanse your body, especially your back area.
- You can use triphala powder or coriander powder blended with honey as an effective and gentle exfoliator when you have acne on the back. However, exfoliate your skin, not more than twice or thrice a week.
- Using any herbal moisturizer that contains aloe vera, gotukola, amla, etc. twice a day can give better results.
- Apply herbal packs made of turmeric , gotukola, neem, and manjistha powders as spot treatments on your back acne twice a week.
Vedix Tip: Use multani mitti paste as an effective spot treatment for pus-filled acne on your back.
B. Dosha Balancing Diet
- Have a glass of warm herbal tea made of herbs such as amla, trikatu churna, or triphala churna first thing in the morning.
- Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, papayas, pomegranates, pears, pineapples, leafy greens, squash, okra, gourds, cabbage, peas, cauliflower, lettuce, mushrooms, etc. in your diet. These will help supply all the essential nutrients to your skin.
- Season your meals with herbs such as cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, fennel, mint, coriander, turmeric, etc. regularly.
- Add moong dal, soybeans, green beans, etc. in your diet to fulfill your protein requirements. Minimize intake of meat.
- Drink a glass of buttermilk after your lunch.
- Stay away from a Pitta-Kapha aggravating diet that contains food high in fats, oily, excessively sweet, salty, sour, hot and spicy.
- Avoid dairy products, processed sugars, soft drinks, baked foods, white flour, fast foods and all the other types of junk foods. Include hard-boiled eggs in your diet.
- Don't do any extreme crash diets as they might affect your overall health over time. Instead, replace junk food intake with healthy meals that are cooked at home.
- Drink water in adequate amounts to keep yourself hydrated. Also, drink water half an hour before or after your meals but not while you eat.
- Devote a fixed time for your meals every day and always have your food in a quiet corner with good ventilation.
- Always have warm food and avoid eating stale items.
C. Regular Exercise
- Spend at least half an hour daily in some physical activity that can help boost blood circulation in your body.
- A regular exercise regimen can also boost the digestion and detoxification processes in your body which play a key role in keeping your Ayurvedic doshas in balance.
- Yoga and meditation balance your stress  besides controlling your aggravated emotions.
- You can also opt for activities such as hiking, forest camping, etc. in which you can spend quality time amidst nature.
2. Essential Oils
Essential oils have strong anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in combating your acne problems. However, you can use essential oils on your skin by adding a few drops of any light carrier oil such as almond, jojoba, argan oil, etc.
Below are some of the effective essential oils you can use to treat your back acne:
- Tea tree oil
- Lavender oil
- Juniper oil
- Lemon or lemongrass oil
- Rosemary oil 
- Geranium oil
- Oregano oil
- Sandalwood oil
- Frankincense oil
- Peppermint oil
“Adding a few drops of any of these essential oils to your body cleansers can also help in controlling the acne breakouts on your back,” says Dr. Zeel.
3. Home Remedies
A. Apply raw honey on your back acne and wash it off after half an hour. Repeat it daily.
B. Apply 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on your back acne using a cotton pad and allow it to dry. Repeat it twice a day.
C. Extract juice from 4-5 garlic cloves and apply it to your back acne. After half an hour, rinse it off. Repeat it daily.
D. Dilute a spoon of apple cider vinegar by mixing it in a cup of warm water. Apply the solution on your back acne using a cotton pad. After half an hour, rinse it off. Repeat it on alternate days.
E. Add a cup of epsom salt to a tub of warm water and soak your back in it for half an hour before taking a bath. Repeat it on alternate days.
4. Other Medical Treatments
A. Topical creams that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
B. OTC pills that have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activity.
C. Doctors may also prescribe birth control pills that modulate your hormone levels and Isotretinoin in case of a severe form of back acne. However, there are different side effects such as suicidal tendency, depression, anxiety, dry skin, etc. for Isotretinoin .
D. Skin procedures such as laser therapy, chemical peel, extraction, etc. are used to remove back acne.
Tips To Prevent Back Acne
1. Avoid wearing tight-fit clothing which makes your skin unbreathable, especially during heavy workout sessions. Choose cotton-based sports clothing instead.
2. Always take a proper bath after your sweaty workout sessions.
3. Use a non-abrasive, mild body cleanser to gently clean your back using your fingertips.
4. Stay away from harsh, heavy-oil-based or chemical-laden products such as cleansers, body sprays, etc.
5. Avoid squeezing, scrubbing or popping out your acne.
6. Avoid tanning beds and limit sun exposure on your acne-affected back region.
7. Avoid certain medications such as lithium-based drugs  which can interfere with your hormonal production in the body. Always, talk to your doctor before taking any such medication.
8. Avoid exerting any kind of friction and pressure on your back that might be caused by constantly using heavy backpacks or sports gear. Instead, opt for lightweight backpacks.
9. Do not repeat wearing your clothes without washing them properly, especially your sportswear.
10. Change your sheets regularly and never let dirty floors or surfaces come in contact with your back.
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Back Acne?
1. Back acne occurs most commonly in teenagers and adults.
2. Among teenagers, men are more likely to develop back acne
3. Among adults, women are more prone to back acne.
While about 90% of teenagers and 12-14% of adults can develop acne, studies reveal that about half of them are susceptible to developing acne on the back. 
When To See A Dermatologist For Back Acne?
If you do not notice any significant improvement even after regular treatments for six to eight weeks, then you need to consult your dermatologist for further evaluation of your skin condition.
Seek your doctor’s advice before using any of the treatments mentioned in this article for back acne.
The Last Word
Even though acne breakouts on the back are easier to hide under your clothing unlike facial acne, it does not mean you can leave it untreated. This can further lead to severe acne lesions and scarring which might get difficult to treat later. Consult your doctor immediately if the condition worsens. Additionally, follow a proper Ayurvedic skincare routine, eat a balanced diet, and practice healthy lifestyle practices to keep your doshas in a balanced state which in turn will make your skin healthy and beautiful.
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