Just like your complexion, the skin on your back is also prone to breakouts. Backne, A.K.A. back acne, is very common and can be caused by many different factors. But whatever the cause, and whenever it pops up, there is one thing that all backne has in common: It’s incredibly tough to treat. Just how are you supposed to reach your hands behind your back to cleanse, let alone apply a leave-on acne treatment? How often should you be trying to scrub your backside, anyway?
Keep reading to learn about the best plan of attack for beating backne, including tips and tricks on how to care for this hard-to-reach, breakout-prone area. Bonus: Clearing up and keeping backne at bay will help prevent another unwanted backside issue—back acne scars.
what causes back acne?
First, before we dive into the solutions, let’s review the most common causes of back acne. Just like breakouts that occur elsewhere on the body, backne can be caused and influence by a variety of factors, including:
Androgens, a type of hormone that increases during puberty, causes oil glands to enlarge and produce more oil (sebum), which in turn causes more acne, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It clogs up our pores and leads to the development of acne. If you have an oily skin type, you may be more prone to developing acne, including backne.
Some people may simply be more genetically prone to developing acne—such as if chronic acne runs in your family. This typically pertains to painful, cystic acne, for which you’ll want to enlist the help of a board-certified dermatologist.
3 steps to reduce backne
1: Don't sit in sweaty clothes
This may seem obvious, but we’ve all done it. After a workout, or even just on a hot, humid day, don’t make a habit of sitting around in sweat-laden clothes and bras. Quick science lesson: When you sweat, all of the bacteria on your skin (the good and the bad), drips off of your skin and onto your clothes. So, when you leave your sweat-ridden clothes on for an extended period of time, all of that bacteria (mixed with the oils and dead cells from your skin) are just sitting there. In other words, you’re practically begging for a backne breakout.
The best rule of thumb is to change your clothes and hop in the shower right after every sweat session. If you can’t take a full-on shower, at least use a cleansing wipe across your back as best you can, then change into clean, dry clothes. Another good rule of thumb: Wear loose-fitting clothes during your workout, recommends the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), as they will better allow your skin to breathe.
2: Use clean tools
If you’re not flexible enough to reach your entire back in the shower (is anyone?), invest in a washcloth with a long arm and use it to cleanse those impossible-to-reach areas on your back. Stick with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and aim to replace your washcloth or tool of choice every month, otherwise you risk a build-up of bacteria that will only make matters worse. For mild cases of backne, however, rinsing in warm water (plus heeding the next tip) will be enough to clear things up, sans scrubbing.
3: There's a mist for that
We all know that leave-on products are crucial in helping to tame and ward-off complexion breakouts, and the same goes for your back. Again, herein lies the problem of not being able to reach your own back—which is where sprays and mists come in. Reach for a salicylic acid toner spray. They can often be used all over your body, wherever acne typically pops up. After you rinse in the shower and towel off, bend over slightly and spritz the toner all over your back. Then, wait a few seconds for it to fully absorb before putting on your clothes, and you’re good to go—repeat this daily, or as often as you need. The salicylic acid will help minimize oiliness, redness and best of all, breakouts.