Back Acne (Aka Bacne) Gets Worse In Summer, Here's How To Tackle It

Exfoliate with caution.
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The sun is here and so is back acne, aka bacne.

Half of people who suffer with acne on their face will also experience it on their backs, according to the NHS. Having spots on your back is totally normal and nothing to be ashamed about. But it can cause some people to hide their bodies under layers of clothes due to embarrassment, which can actually make the condition worse.

Bacne can get be more troublesome in the summer months as excessive sweating can trigger the condition. When sweat sits on the skin for long periods of time, it can lead to clogged pores.

With hot weather forecast, now is the perfect time to get clued up on the condition and – if you want to – take some steps to reduce the appearance of bacne.

What is bacne?

In simple terms bacne is acne that develops on your back. Bacne occurs when sweat, oil, dead skin cells and bacteria get trapped in your skin’s pores. Sweaty shirts, backpacks or sports equipment cause cause friction on your back and magnify the back acne.

“Back acne can come in several forms such as blackheads, whiteheads or papules,” Nada Ward, the founder of soap bar brand Beauty Kin, says.

“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.”

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What causes bacne?

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,” Ward explains.

“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, a build-up of dead or dry skin cells can also make it difficult for the skin to breathe.

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How you can treat bacne?

One of the best ways to prevent acne on your back from appearing is to choose your clothes carefully. Very tight clothes prevent the skin from breathing, so keep things loose and reduce the amount of time you spend wearing a backpack.

If you exercise regularly, it is also a good idea to shower after working out, to remove the sweat and oil that has collected.

Another way to reduce bacne is to use a gentle exfoliator every other day, says Ward, but you should be careful about overdoing it.

Excessive over-scrubbing can cause irritation and inflame bacne further, agrees Dr Sameer Sanghvi from Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor.

Both Ward and Dr Sanghvi recommend looking for creams and washes that contain benzoyl peroxide, as this ingredient kills bacteria and helps reduce lesions.

“If your back feels dry or tight after showering you should use an oil-free moisturiser. Find products that are labeled ‘noncomedogenic.’ This means that they do not clog pores,” says Ward. “Using a SPF can help as sun exposure can make acne darker and more noticeable.”