Back Acne (Bacne)

4 min read
Show more

Back acne – commonly referred to as ‘bacne’ – develops when hair follicles under your skin become clogged with natural oil produced by the body, bacteria, and dead skin cells. This article will investigate what bacne is, what causes it, and how to treat the condition.  

50% of people with facial acne also have body acne1,2,3.

This causes red spots and oily skin, while skin often feels hot or painful to touch. Acne on the back may consist of blackheads, cysts (pus-filled bumps) or whiteheads.

Symptoms of bacne

Bacne can occur with different types of acne, and it’s helpful to understand the types of acne lesions that can appear on your back.

Back acne usually appears on the upper back, but can also appear towards the lower back, shoulders, chest, neck and buttocks.

Symptoms of bacne can appear as:  

  • Whiteheads: identifiable by its small, red outer features with a white spot at the tip of the pimple. These appear when a plugged follicle stays closed and below the skin, developing a white bump.
  • Red bumps: these bumps often don’t have a “head” and can be painful to touch. 
  • Blackheads: like whiteheads, although these are usually not red or inflamed and have a black head instead of a white head.
  • Cysts: these result from a type of acne called cystic acne. The cysts form bumps deep under the skin’s surface and are usually pus-filled.
  • Nodules: this type of acne occurs when bacteria become trapped inside a hair follicle. Like cysts, these develop deep underneath the skin’s surface where it can harden and form a large, painful nodule.  

Bacne causes

Back acne develops like other types of acne. Typically, your skin’s pores will get clogged with dirt, sweat, dead skin, and a type of naturally-occurring oil the skin produces called sebum. Sebum is essential to keeping your skin and hair from getting too dry. 

Additionally, there are many factors that can cause acne on the back. Bacne causes can be: 

  • Wearing backpacks, sports equipment and sweaty clothing/shirts that rub or irritate affected areas of the skin on the back and shoulders. 
  • Poor hygiene: Not washing the body regularly, as well as not cleaning the hair which can cause body acne from the oils in the hair rubbing against the back. Acne on the back can also occur from unclean towels, clothing or dirty/unwashed sheets. 
  • Trapped sweat: Sweat can get trapped between your skin and your clothing, which can result in blocked pores and body acne. Those with an excessive sweating condition/disorder typically have a higher chance of developing back acne. 
  • Hormones: Young people going through adolescent development (puberty) and pregnant women are more likely to have acne breakouts in the face and body as hormone levels adapt. 
  • Family history/genetics: If you have a history of body acne or facial acne, you may be predisposed to develop the condition later in life. 
  • Stress and anxiety: These can cause the body to produce more of the hormone cortisol, which then causes an increased production of sebum as cortisol levels rise. 
  • Diet: Some foods can cause or trigger body acne breakouts.

There are some ways in which bacne can be prevented in future to ensure reoccurrence of blemishes and acne on the back is limited as much as possible. 

Some prevention tips for back acne are: 

  • Shower immediately after physical activity, using an acne body wash 
  • Change your clothes after you sweat 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes 
  • Don’t pop or squeeze your back acne, as this can aggravate the skin 
  • Manage your stress/anxiety levels 
  • Keep the skin clean to prevent trapping dirt/sweat and clogged pores 
  • Reduce how often you wear heavy backpacks/sports equipment that could aggravate existing body acne 
  • Use non-comedogenic products on the skin 
  • Use clean linens and wash bed sheets/pillowcases once or twice a week  

Bacne treatment

There are many solutions on how to relieve back acne and it is a condition that can be treated using topical creams, gels and cleansers. Prevention is also key after acne on the back is treated, as it will limit the reoccurrence of bacne in future.

Listed products offered below can support post back acne.

Acne body wash

Eucerin DermoPurifyer Triple Effect Cleansing Gel offers key benefits such as helping beat blemishes, targeting post-acne marks by reducing impurities and removing dead skin cells. This can be used as the first step in a face/body care routine and should be applied twice daily, morning and evening, and the good news is that you can also use this product on your face for an easy in-shower routine for all acne prone skin.

Eucerin DermoPurifyer Triple Effect Body Cream is a new product arriving in Summer 2024 and can be used as the second step of your care routine, as it offers anti-blemish, anti-marks benefits using a 2% anti-bacterial salicylic acid whilst also instantly soothing and moisturising the skin. This cream is ideal for targeting blemishes and post-acne marks on décolletage, back and shoulders.

If back acne persists or keeps returning, speak to a dermatologist for further advice about what may be causing this.

[1] Del Rosso, J.Q et al., A closer look at truncal acne vulgaris: Prevalence, severity, and clinical significance. JDD 2007, 6, 597–600, {2] Isaacsson, V.C.S. et al, Dissatisfaction and acne vulgaris in male adolescents and associated factors. An. Bras. De Dermatol. 2014, 89, 576–579. [3] Dreno, B. et al, on behalf of the Global Alliance to Improve Outcomes in Acne. Large-scale international study enhances understanding of an emerging acne population: Adult females. J. Eur. Acad. Dermatol. Venereol. 2015, 29, 1096–1106.  

Our brand values

Pioneers in skincare

We deliver a holistic dermo-cosmetic approach to protect your skin, keep it healthy and radiant.

Recommended by dermatologists

We work together with leading dermatologist and pharmacist partners around the world to create innovative and effective skincare products they can trust and recommend.

Committed to innovation

For over 100 years, we have dedicated ourselves to researching and innovating in the field of skin science. We believe in creating active ingredients and soothing formulas with high tolerability that work to help you live your life better each day.

Find your nearest Eucerin pharmacy