8 reasons why you are getting acne on your back and how you can prevent it

ShutterstockThere are reasons you’re getting acne on your back.
  • Back acne can be frustrating.
  • It can be caused by sweating and your diet.
  • It can be prevented by washing your hair thoroughly and changing out of workout clothes quickly.

Dealing with acne on your face can be frustrating enough, but what do you do when your back and shoulders erupt in bumps as well?

Though makeup can conceal facial blemishes, coping with “bacne” is more of a challenge. The condition might make you feel self-conscious and can turn wearing dresses and tank tops into a real struggle.

Here’s why you might getting acne on your back and what you can do to prevent it.


The skin on your back is actually particularly prone to acne.

kadirkaplan/ iStockThe thick skin is prone to blocked pores.

There are three main factors that contribute to acne. Overactive oil glands, excess dead skin cells, and an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria can combine to create a nasty breakout anywhere on your body. Unfortunately, the skin on our backs is particularly prone to skin trouble.

“The skin on our backs is extremely thick, so the potential for blocked pores is very high,” dermatologist Dr. Justine Kluk told Marie Claire.

According to Verywell Health, the upper half of the body also has more sebaceous or oil glands per square inch that the lower half.

Combined, these two factors create a perfect storm for back acne.


The products you use on your hair might be causing you to break out on your back.

iStockShampoo and conditioner can cause a break out on your back.

Just like the body’s natural oils can block pores and lead to pimples, the substances in hair and body products can also trigger a breakout, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Allowing your hair conditioner to run down your back in the shower can also deliver a big dose of pore-clogging substances onto your skin. Be sure to rinse your hair thoroughly and use products that have the following labels on them: won’t clog pores, oil-free, non-comedogenic, and non-acnegenic.


Not showering promptly after a sweaty gym session might be causing back pimples.

ShutterstockShowering needs to be done quickly.

It can be tempting to skip your gym’s grimy showers and head home for a soothing soak in the tub instead. However, waiting too long to rinse off after working out can actually lead to a case of back acne.

Allowing sweat and dirt to hang out on your skin after exercising can be a major cause of pimples on the back and shoulders, according to Stylecaster.

Don’t delay showering after any situation that gets you hot and sweaty, including a sweltering day at the beach or a jog around the neighbourhood.


And don’t let your workout clothes go too long between washes.

Flickr/mariachilyWashing work out clothes is important.

If you’re an avid exerciser, it can be a real pain to wash items like sports bras and gym shorts after every workout. But just because that t-shirt still smells fresh doesn’t mean it’s not contributing to body acne.

As The American Academy of Dermatology advised, washing sweaty workout clothes after each round of exercise is actually a good way to keep acne-causing bacteria and grime out of your pores. Don’t let staying active get between you and clear skin.


Tight clothing or a heavy backpack could also be the culprit.

Africa Studio/ShutterstockLugging around a heavy backpack or purse could be contributing to your skin troubles.

Items such as backpacks, sports equipment, or purse strapscan exacerbate back acne.

“Tight clothing mixed with friction and excess moisture, such as sweat, can lead to the development of acne. The combination of friction, heat, and covered skin may result in the development of a form of acne called acne mechanica. The friction can irritate the skin and disrupt the surface, which can clog the pores with dead skin cells and lead to inflammation,” Dr. Jeremy Fenton of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC told Byrdie. “In my case, this is a perfect explanation, since the super-hot NYC summer weather was causing me to sweat, which, coupled with rubbing bra straps, led to a spattering of breakouts.

To prevent acne mechanica on you back, make sure your clothing and undergarments aren’t too tight and try not to carry heavy loads in backpacks or purses for extended periods of time. Wearing a clean cotton t-shirt beneath your regular clothes or sports uniform can also help keep your skin protected.


Slathering on sunscreen is always a good idea, but be sure to choose the right one.

TanyaRozhnovskaya/ShutterstockMake sure your sunscreen is oil-free.

It’s definitely important to shield your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays when the sun is shining. That includes using a daily sunscreen on any part of your skin that is exposed to the sunshine, including your back.

However, doing the right thing for your skin’s long-term health might leave you with back pimples if you don’t use a sunscreen specially formulated for acne-prone skin.


If your diet is full of carbohydrates and dairy, your skin might be paying the price.

Dunkin’ DoughnutsWhat you put into your body can affect the outside of your body.

The old adage “you are what you eat” certainly applies when it comes to maintaining healthy, radiant-looking skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there is growing evidence that diet has an effect on acne.

Carbohydrate-rich foods with a high glycemic index might be especially problematic for acne sufferers, as studies have shown that raising blood sugar levels quickly may lead to acne flares. High-GI foods include white bread, chips, and white potatoes. Low-GI foods include peanuts, vegetables, and beans.

Dairy might also play a part in aggravating back acne. Some studies have suggested that the consumption of milk – and skim milk in particular – is associated with more severe acne. However, more clinical research is needed to prove a definite link between dairy and acne.


Hormones or stress might also be at the root of your back acne woes.

Shutterstock/TORWAISTUDIOYou might need to make lifestyle changes.

When topical solutions don’t seem to be working, it may be time to look deeper for the root cause of your back acne.

Research has shown a link between stress and acne flare-ups. One study found that students were more likely to experience a breakout around exam time, and the American Academy of Dermatology recommended that trying to reduce stress can be a helpful part of acne treatment.

Your hormones might also be to blame for bad bouts of back acne. According to Medical News Today, high testosterone levels can contribute to acne by increasing the production of sebum, which may then lead to blocked pores. Falling estrogen levels related to the menstrual cycle can also trigger breakouts.

If you believe that stress or hormones are causing your back to break out, you should have a conversation with your doctor about potential treatments or lifestyle changes.

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