Top tips for back acne

Are you experiencing breakouts on your back? This has been an all-too-common concern I’m seeing in my treatment room of late so I thought it might be an idea to share some tips that may help.

Firstly, what causes back acne (sometimes referred to as ‘bacne’)? Typically, it’s caused by a build-up of oils and dead skin cells in and around pores. The pores can become clogged and attract bacteria, which thrives, and this then leads to an inflammatory response of the skin causing pustules and bumps. The onset predominantly starts from puberty, and it tends to affect boys and men more. The main areas affected are upper back, lower back, and shoulders. It’s frustrating and embarrassing for those affected by it and people often avoid wearing open-back clothing and participating in certain activities as a result of this. Luckily with a few small changes to your daily routine, it can often help to improve things. 

1. It’s really important to cleanse your skin thoroughly in the shower every day. Try using a cleanser that contains acids like salicylic, glycolic, or lactic, which can prevent dead skin cells from building up and blocking your pores. CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser is one that is widely available, purse-friendly and will zap those zits in no time. It has a 0.5 per cent concentration of salicylic acid that allows the cleansing formula to perform a chemical exfoliation, gently dissolving dead skin and pore-clogging impurities to reveal a smoothed surface, without disrupting skin’s microbiome, €12.50, available in selected pharmacies nationwide and online. Avène’s Cleanance Cleansing Gel, which has recently been reformulated to include the ground-breaking ingredient Comedoclastin, is another daily cleanser that reduces excess sebum and unblocks pores. Containing 60 per cent Avène Thermal Spring Water, this calming gel has soothing and softening properties too. Now available in a new 400ml Size Pump, €18.99, available in selected pharmacies nationwide and online. 

2. If you exercise a lot and are working up a sweat, it’s important to remove your gym clothes and shower as soon as possible after a workout. Even if it hasn’t been a fully pumped one, showering immediately after and cleaning off any sweat is key, as the bacteria responsible for causing acne thrives on sweaty skin. 

3. When it comes to shampoos and conditioners, flip your hair to the front and rinse forward to avoid leaving shampoo and conditioner residue on your back (and butt – ‘buttne’ is a thing too!) which can clog pores and further exacerbate spots. Ensure you rinse your whole body thoroughly before stepping out of the shower.

4. If applying a body lotion, ditch the thick creams and make sure that any products you leave on your skin are ‘non-comedogenic’, which means that they won’t clog your pores. Try The Solution Salicylic Acid Clear Skin Body Gel, which works wonders on breakouts, impurities, and excess oil. Fast acting and non-sticky, salicylic acid targets blemishes and oiliness, niacinamide (Vitamin B3) helps reveal clearer skin while tea tree help combat skin breakouts, €11.99 available from selected pharmacies nationwide and online. 

5. It goes without saying, try and avoid squeezing or picking your spots, as this can introduce infection and lead to scarring. Bear in mind too that picking nearly always leads to pigmentation, which is stubborn to get rid of. Instead, reach for a targeted spot treatment. Murad Clarifying Body Spray has purifying salicylic acid that works with other powerful antibacterial agents to penetrate pores and reduce acne blemishes while also helping prevent new breakouts from forming. Skin conditioners soothe and hydrate irritated skin for maximum clarity and its 360-degree, spray works upside down so those hard-to-reach places can be got at! €42 from selected Murad stockists nationwide and online from 

6. Clean your sheets! And by that, I mean regularly. Every night when you sleep bacteria, dirt, and oil are transferred from your skin to your sheets and can contribute to breakouts or irritation. 

7. Lastly, if you are not winning with all of the above and still trying to get on top of the breakouts or you’re beginning to see acne scars developing, then a visit to a dermatologist might be worth considering as they can advise an alternative treatment plan. 

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To make a booking for one of my facial treatments or a skincare consultation head over to where you can book in online. 

Sherna Malone

Sherna Malone is a skincare specialist working in West Cork.

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