We Know About Face Acne, But What About the Back?
Back acne, or "backne" as some might like to call it, is a common skin problem. Up to two-thirds of those who have facial acne also have back acne. Unfortunately, it has not received the same amount of attention that facial acne does, and as a result, no clear treatment regimen exists. I would like to share with you my experience with backne and the method that I have used to successfully get rid of this skin problem for good.
How I Got Rid of Backne
After trying various methods, I finally found one that worked for me. This method doesn't require expensive medication or herbal products, just a little bit of elbow grease and a cheap over-the-counter body wash.
What to Use
You can avoid bleaching fabrics by using benzoyl peroxide body wash in the shower. I personally use PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash, which is a relatively inexpensive product and can be purchased from a variety of pharmacies and online stores. Because the body wash is washed off, it should not bleach your clothing.
How to Apply
There is still a problem with applying the body wash. You can overcome this problem by gently exfoliating your skin using a scrubbing brush.
I need to thank my girlfriend for this tip. She has always been a great believer in exfoliation. Skin exfoliation has two effects:
- It opens up the skin pores and allows for the penetration of the benzoyl peroxide body wash without the strenuous efforts of massaging. Simply use the body wash as you would a shower gel.
- The exfoliation removes dead skin cells, which could potentially clog up your pores and cause acne.
Step 1: Step into the shower and let the hot water run on your body and back. The hot water helps open the pores and aids the exfoliation process.
Step 2: Grab your scrub brush, and in a gentle, circular motion scrub your back, making sure you reach all the affected areas. This should take no more than 20 seconds.
Step 3: Take a finger length's amount of benzoyl peroxide body wash and lather into your hands. Apply it to your back as you would if you were to apply shower gel. There is no need to massage vigorously onto the skin, so this step shouldn't be too difficult.
Step 4: Make sure you rinse off all the body wash on your back. If you like, you could use a shower gel afterward to ensure that all the cream is washed off. If you don't do this, there is a slight risk that your clothes may become bleached.
Step 5: Step out of the shower! Repeat this every other day.
What Causes Backne?
The same disease mechanism that causes facial acne also causes back acne. We are uncertain as to how some people get backne while others do not. The likely explanation is that some people in certain periods of their life (especially during their teenage years) experience an increase in oil production. Dead skin cells and excess oil get trapped in the pores (small holes in your skin where hair grows), creating a perfect breeding site for bacteria. The combination of dead skin cells, oil, dead bacteria, and white blood cells (which your body produces to get rid of the bacteria) leads to the formation of whiteheads (pores that are filled with pus).
Certain scenarios can also aggravate the condition. Skin irritation and excess sweating are known to be associated with acne. Incidentally, these things are also common on our backs due to temperatures being warm beneath our clothing and the constant rubbing of clothing and bag straps against the skin.
I've battled with acne for many years. Like many people, it started on my face when I was a teenager, but a few years later, it spread to my back. I naturally became very self-conscious of people seeing my back, which was scarred from the pimples. I avoided swimming at all costs. The confidence that I had in my body image plummeted.
After discovering acne.org (excellent resource by the way), I tried their recommended acne regimen and found it incredibly effective in clearing away facial pimples. The regimen involved applying generous amounts of benzoyl peroxide cream to the face and then moisturizing the skin afterwards, as the cream tends to dry the skin out. Benzoyl peroxide is a medication that kills the bacteria that causes spots. Although great for the face, this regimen was not practical for the back.
First and foremost, the back is a very large area, and the skin is also a lot thicker than the face. The amount of cream you would need to cover your back in order to provide a sufficient dosage to clear acne is going to set you back in terms of cost.
Secondly, there is also the issue of applying the cream onto your back. For the regimen to work, it is important to massage the cream until it is well absorbed. Unless you have someone do it for you, it can be an extremely tedious process.
Thirdly, benzoyl peroxide bleaches fabric. I discovered this the hard way. I accidentally bleached quite a few shirts in the past by spreading the cream on my back before getting dressed. Similarly, the cream can bleach duvets and pillows. Needless to say, I was determined to find a more practical solution to the problem.
Will It Work for You?
Before you try my regimen, I have to stress that although this regimen has worked for me, it may not work for everybody.
The benzoyl peroxide body wash that I use is fairly concentrated (10% concentration). This is roughly four times the concentration used for the face. A higher concentration is required because the skin on your back is generally a lot thicker than the skin on your face, and you are also not massaging it in as much. Nevertheless, those of you who have sensitive skin may find that the body wash dries out your skin too much.
If this is the case, I would use a lower concentration or use half a finger length's worth of body wash. A 5% version of the PanOxyl Acne Wash is available in bar form. I personally have never had an issue with dry skin and have never needed any moisturizer.
Before I conclude, I would like to say that this regimen has changed my life completely. My back is now almost clear of acne. I may get the odd outbreak (maybe once a month), but 98% of the time, I am free of this dreaded skin condition. More importantly, my confidence has returned.
If you suffer from bad backne and have tried other methods with no success, why not give my regimen a try?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Aneisa on May 04, 2020:
What did you use for the scars ?
Joe on May 29, 2014:
How long did this method take before your back was finally clear?
Khan saab on January 22, 2014:
Great sharing. Im suffering from the same problem and have been trying to get rid of my bacne from quite a while. Just a quick question. Is the Benzoyl oxyde wash you mentioned is a cream or just like a soap? Because I've recently bought the product you mentioned. It's written Benzoyl peroxyde wash but inside its a cream.
Ivy Red on May 02, 2013:
I use Citrus Clear's Control Acne Wash - its a large 8 oz size and I use it as a body wash in the shower. This started to clear my back up within 3 days now its two weeks later and my back has not been this clear in 5 years and I have tried everything INCLUDING perscrptions!!! TRUST me on this one. I was worried it would dry my back out but it did not. I'm so excited. I wish they would advertize this more as it was only sheer luck I saw this while researching online.
cc_gn on December 28, 2010:
was your acne severe?
bojanglesk8 on August 14, 2010:
dak on July 01, 2010:
thank u so much for the information.
illkid_88 (author) from United Kingdom on May 26, 2010:
Hey scp - from my experience, PanOxyl does not dry out the skin on your back because the skin there is a lot thicker and hence more resilient. It does however have a tendency to dry out your face - so I would defintely moisturize after.
scp on May 25, 2010:
hey, thanks so much for mentioning those products! i hate websites that tell you what's good, but do not mention the products. btw, does the PanOxy dry out skin?