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Bacne | Back Acne

I've gotten quite a few emails from guys struggling with back acne, asking for advice on how to treat it.  I wish there was a magic solution to this age old problem, but there's not.  Instead, I'm going to talk about what I know and suggest a few things to help manage breakouts.  Hopefully, they'll help.

Acne is acne, no matter where it pops up on our body.  The most common areas are the face, back, shoulders, and chest.  It's sometimes referred to as "bacne" when it's on the back, for obvious reasons.  Acne can rear its ugly head (no pun intended) anywhere there are oil secreting glands, known as sebaceous glands, and hair follicles.

With men, especially younger guys, acne can be a problem because of our favorite hormone – testosterone.  Like I've mentioned in other articles, testosterone has a way of turning on the oil producing glands, which causes our skin to get greasy.  When the oil, or sebum, mixes with bacteria and dead skin cells, it builds up and clogs the hair follicles or pores.  (Each of the pores in our skin is an opening to a hair follicle – a tiny tunnel that contains a hair and an oil-producing gland.)  The hair follicle eventually becomes clogged and sometimes infected and causes a pimple or acne.

Since we can't do much to control our hormones or genetics ( heredity can be the cause of acne, too), we have to become proactive with trying to avoid it, as well as treating it.  Making a few life style changes may help control it.  Many times, nothing seems to be effective, but we should never stop trying.  Here are a few precautions to take, which could help reduce breakouts:

  • Keep your skin clean.  This may be the best thing you can do.  Washing with a gentle cleanser or acne wash, found in pharmacies and many grocery stores, will help remove the sebum/dead skin cells from your skin.  There are several acne washes available, which can be found in pharmacies and many grocery stores.  Eliminating the grime should help prevent, or at least slow acne formation down.  Remember to always shower after exercising, being out in the hot sun, or anytime there is excessive sweating.  Showering twice a day if acne is severe is probably best, even if you're not sweaty.  Wash your hair daily, and if you use hair conditioner, make sure to rinse it completely out.  Since conditioner runs down your back when being rinsed out, make sure you thoroughly rinse your back off, also, since conditioners usually contain some form of oil.
  • Do not use any oil-based moisturizers or sunscreen on your back.  If you need either of these products, choose either oil-free brands, or brands labeled non-comedogenic, non-occlusive or  nonacnegenic.  All three terms mean the product will not clog pores.  The use of oil-based skincare products will only add more oil to your skin, and will definitely make matters worse.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure, since it will make you sweat and irritate the acne.  The sun does not clear acne up, which many people believe.  It tans the skin, which helps camouflage the acne, but other than that, the sun dries the skin out and promotes future breakouts.  Always wear a shirt when out in the sun.
  • Pay attention to your diet.  Clean, nutritious diets are most beneficial; however if eating healthy isn't your thing, at the very least eliminate any foods that cause breakouts.  Everyone's different, so identify your foods and avoid them.
  • There are certain medications and androgens (male hormones: testosterone) that have the potential to increase acne.  If you suspect your medication is causing acne, speak with your doctor about possible alternatives.  If there are not any other suitable medications to switch to, weight the pros and cons and decide if you should stop the medication.  I know acne is a real drag, but don't risk your health over it.  And don't stop medication without discussing it with your doctor first.
  • There's a type acne called acne mechanica.  It is caused by prolonged pressure and  friction on the back.  Sports equipment like shoulder pads, backpacks, very tight fitting shirts, musical instrument straps, weapons carried by soldiers, or anything that applies pressure to the back and rubs the skin, preventing air from reaching it and causing it to sweat, can trigger this type acne.  It's often thought to be a rash, but it's actually a form of acne.  Some things just can't be avoided, so if you must wear anything that causes acne mechanica, wear a clean, preferably white, cotton T-shirt under it.  I realize a T-shirt may not be convenient, but it's got to be better than a breakout.


There are countless over-the-counter acne medications that are worth a try; however, they are probably most effective for mild acne cases.  Look for products that include these ingredients: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, and sulfur.  I find talking with a pharmacist for professional advice about over-the-counter meds is very helpful.  The pharmacist can give some good insight into which products are best.  Don't give up if you don't get the results you want from a product... just try another one.

There are countless natural products and supplements recommended for acne.  Research or talk with someone knowledgeable at a health food store for recommendations.  If anyone's interested, I can do another article on natural supplements for acne.

If you exhaust all your options and can not get your acne under control, see a doctor.  General practitioners (GP) and dermatologists (skin doctor) are the type doctors who treat acne.  Acne is the #1 skin issue dermatologists treat.  Prescription medications can work wonders, so don't hesitate and suffer with acne if you don't have to.

by Aaron Marino

Past Topics

New Topics Added Weekly!
Simple Skincare for Men -
January 6, 2012
Times have definitely changed when it comes to men’s skincare. We’ve come out of the dark ages, and are now permitted and encouraged to take care of our skin. However, many of us are still clueless about what traditionally has been for women only, and have no idea what skincare is really about or how to address it. Along with being oblivious, we’re usually intimidated and embarrassed by the Read More»
Beautiful Black Skin Care for Men -
December 24, 2011
Who ever said that skin care was a woman’s thing is out of touch with reality.  In our modern culture, it is essential for men to care for their skin as well.  Having healthy dark skin is a beautiful thing, but if not pampered and cared for, it can become patchy, dry and discolored. Darker skin is due to an increased amount of melanin.  The pigment is nature’s way of protecting the skin froRead More»
Tanning Lotion Options | Sunscreen and Sunblock -
May 27, 2011
Sunburn isn't a joke, so today we're talking about sunblock. Nothing's worth than getting an incredibly bad sunburn. You've seen that incredibly bad sunburn guy- maybe he's been you. Aaron Marino of alpha m. presents a simple way to prevent that! Sunscreens and Sunblocks All suncreens / sunblocks have SPF and it's located on the front of the bottle. The SPF is the amount of rays that are being blRead More»
Fake Tanning | Tanning Beds, Spray Tan, Sunless Tanning Lotions -
January 2, 2011
When it's wintertime, you're not by the pool, by the lake, or outside. Your tan has faded. Aaron Marino of alpha m. goes over three options to take the edge off of 'whiteness' during the colder months. Tanning Booths / Beds It's as close to a natural tan that you can get, and it's not expensive. What you wear in the booth depends on if you want tan line or not. Time invested is about 10 - 15 minutRead More»

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