The matter of spots on our faces is a widely-discussed topic, but what about the other parts of our bodies? According to the NHS, half of the people that suffer from acne on their face will also experience it on their backs – with the condition more commonly referred to as ‘bacne’.
Despite being extremely common, back acne can nonetheless cause much distress and embarrassment, causing sufferers to want to hide their bodies under layers of clothes – which can in fact make the condition worse.
Below, Nada Ward, the founder of soap bar brand Beauty Kin, offers insight into skincare myths, alongside suggested back acne treatments and remedies for sufferers.
Are spots on your back normal?
In short, the answer is definitely yes – spots appearing anywhere on the body are a common occurrence. As our backs are very hard to reach, it makes it almost impossible to keep up with a skincare routine that regularly involves that area of the body.
Outbreaks can come in a range of different forms, such as blackheads, whiteheads, or papules. Papules typically emerge as spots without a head, but they can be extremely painful. Cysts can also occur on your back, which can be sore to the touch, and look similar to boils. This would be a more severe form of the issue, and bacne treatment, in this case, would most likely consist of a topical treatment from a medical professional.
What causes bacne?
As with facial spots, there are various explanations behind why one may be suffering from bacne; from oily skin due to genetics, to medication, through to things like restrictive backpacks and clothing. The sebaceous glands located across our backs that are regularly producing sebum can cause pores to become blocked, which can, in turn, lead to areas of spots.
A type of yeast, known as Malassezia, is also in high supply on our backs, and if too much of it grows in one place, it can cause acne lesions. The lesions thrive in moist, sweaty places, so if you regularly use a backpack or wear lots of layers at a time and overheat, this could be a contributor to a bacne issue.
If the malassezia finds its way into your hair follicles, a condition called pityrosporum folliculitis can form on the back. This looks like a collection of little red bumps, and requires an antifungal tablet or cream to clear up.
Similarly, if you do not cleanse regularly, a build-up of dead or dry skin cells can also make it difficult for the skin to breathe. Due to this, we at Beauty Kin recommend a kind, gentle cleanse every other day as part of your back acne treatment.
The Beauty Kin Clarifying Bars contain salicylic acid, which works hard to unclog blocked pores, while tamanu oil helps to reduce the look of redness and inflammation. The bar is also boosted by squalane and glycerin, which avoids the skin from becoming too dry or irritated in the process, as the formula drenches it in moisture.
Can anything else cause bacne?
There have been links drawn between diet and acne, as high-sugar foods have been said to have an impact on the skin in a negative way. If you have just hit puberty, it would be totally normal for you to be suffering from acne, whether on your back or your face, as your body is producing more testosterone.
This would encourage more sebum than usual, making it all the more likely that your pores would become clogged. Another factor which, unfortunately, cannot be helped, is that of the sex you were assigned at birth.
If you were assigned female at birth, then the female sex hormones in your body can make acne more likely, especially around your menstrual cycle – which may be why people that menstruate find their skin worse around their periods.
Furthermore, if you have a womb and are taking the progestogen-only pill (or mini pill) as contraception, then bacne could be more likely. This is because the pill can cause the male sex hormones to become imbalanced, leading to higher sebum production and blocked pores.
What bacne treatment and preventative measures are available?
One of the best ways to prevent acne on your back from appearing is to choose your clothes carefully. Very tight clothes don’t let your skin breathe, which can cause sweat and debris to build up in your pores. If you are prone to bacne, loose-fitting clothes are a must, along with avoiding wearing a backpack as this can have the same effect.
If you exercise regularly, it is also a good idea to shower after working out, to remove the sweat and oil that has been collected. Despite this, one of the most effective ways to prevent or reduce bacne is to exfoliate every other day, using a formula with natural and antibacterial properties.
A boost of rosemary in the Beauty Kin Clarifying Bar offers an antibacterial solution, making it ideal for ridding the skin of dirt and grime. Non-abrasive ingredients also make it perfect for regular use, as it avoids inflaming the skin.
If you have long hair, it could be helpful to tie it up or even cut it shorter. Hair can become very oily, and having it touching your bare back could lead to blemishes being encouraged.
Finally, working to improve your diet has been said to help lessen the look of bacne, as eating a large amount of sugar can cause more sebum to be secreted. This can, in turn, block pores and lead to spots. Try switching to a sugar-free alternative to promote the look of clearer skin.
Although bacne can seem like an embarrassing and shameful issue, you are not alone in the matter and there are many ways to manage and find a suitable back acne treatment that works for your skin. Blemishes anywhere are totally normal, and common, and should not stop you from flaunting your skin in warmer weather.