How to get rid of back acne, according to dermatologists (2024)

Acne happens —and not just on your face. Blemishes can pop up almost anywhere on your body. One of the more common spots? Your back. “Just like facial acne, it can manifest in various forms, such as blackheads, whiteheads and pimples,” says Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist in Miami, Florida

This type of acne, commonly called “bacne,” can be particularly frustrating when the weather is warm because it can make you self-conscious in a bathing suit or tank top. Treating it can also be tricky because it’s in a hard-to-reach area. To help you best address breakouts on your back, we spoke to dermatologists and asked them how to get rid of bacne —plus how to prevent it in the first place.

SKIP AHEAD What is bacne? | How we picked the best bacne treatments | The best bacne treatments of 2024 | How to prevent bacne

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selectAcne doesn't have to be a part of growing up — these treatments can help

What is bacne?

Simply put, bacne is acne that occurs on your back. “It’s common amongst both males and females,” says Dr. Yoram Harth, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDalgorithms. “Individuals with a predisposition to facial acne are more likely to experience bacne.” Chacon points out that those with oily skin or who sweat excessively may also be more likely to develop it.

Certain lifestyle habits can also increase the prevalence of bacne. “People who frequently wear tight, non-breathable clothing or carry heavy backpacks are also more prone due to increased friction and sweat on the back area,” says Chacon, who notes that not cleansing the skin on your back can cause blemishes. The good news is that bacne can be treated with the right skincare regimen and products, says Harth.

How we picked the best bacne treatments

To help you find the right treatment for your bacne, we asked experts what to look for in acne-fighting products. Here’s what they suggest paying close attention to:

  • Product type: Two types of products come in handy when tackling bacne. “You’ll want to cleanse with a medicated body wash to diminish bacteria in the area,” says Chacon. Then, a topical treatment (often referred to as a spot treatment) can be used to target specific blemishes.
  • Ingredients: “When looking for products to treat bacne, ingredients that exfoliate the skin, regulate oil production, and have antibacterial properties are crucial,” says Chacon. Harth and Chacon recommend looking for products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid. “Tea tree oil is also a popular natural ingredient known for its antibacterial properties,” adds Chacon.
  • Intended use: While there are tons of acne products on the market made for your face, pay close attention to things created specifically for bacne or, at least, for your body, says Chacon. This is especially true for cleansers. Face washes for acne-prone skin may be more gentle, as the skin on your face tends to be more sensitive. The skin on your back can usually take a bit more, so body washes for acne tend to be stronger.
The best bacne treatments of 2024

Below, we rounded up acne-fighting body washes and treatments to help you eliminate bacne. These were either recommended by experts, are favorites of NBC Select staffers or are highly rated.

Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash

This cleanser was named a top option for those with oily skin on our list of best body washes. It contains salicylic acid, which can exfoliate and unclog pores, says Chacon. Since salicylic acid can be drying (which can, in turn, trigger oil glands to go into overdrive), the formula also has glycerin to moisturize skin, according to the brand.

Cetaphil Acne Relief Body Wash

An NBC Select Wellness Award winner, this body wash contains 2% salicylic acid. While removing bacteria and unclogging pores, the formula is also hydrating with ingredients like shea butter and glycerin, according to the brand. NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin uses this body wash after sweaty workouts to help prevent breakouts. “This is a great option for those who struggle with body acne and also have sensitive skin,” she says. “It’s extremely gentle and non-irritating and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean.”

Naturium The Perfector Salicylic Acid Body Wash

This body wash has a 4.5-star average rating from over 7,520 reviews on Amazon and contains encapsulated salicylic acid. Encapsa-what? It means the salicylic acid doesn’t hit your skin all at once but rather slowly penetrates for a more gentle approach, according to the brand. Because of this, it is less drying on your skin. The formula also contains glycerin to help hydrate and is fragrance-free, which tends to be better for sensitive skin.

CeraVe SA Body Wash

Another option that made our list of the best body washes for acne-prone skin, this formula contains salicylic acid to help unclog pores and ceramides to restore hydration, according to the brand. It also contains hyaluronic acid, another ingredient known for its moisturizing properties. CeraVe recommends gently massaging it into your skin in a circular motion using a washcloth or shower loofah.

Paula’s Choice CLEAR Back & Body Exfoliating Acne Spray

This spray may come in hand if you have a constellation of pimples on your back. The bottle shoots out a fine mist of a salicylic mixture, which can be good for a hard-to-reach area like your back —just aim in the general direction and spritz. The leave-on exfoliant is gentle enough for daily use and works by exfoliating the skin to unclog pores, according to the brand. This spray has a 4.4-star average rating from over 8,110 reviews on Amazon.

Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

This acne treatment is an NBC Select staff favorite and won a 2023 Wellness Award and is a good option if you need to spot-treat breakouts on your back. Malin uses this OTC retinoid gel for her hormonal and cystic acne. “It helped reduce my acne in a few days when I used it as a spot treatment, which, as a high schooler, was perfect because it made me less insecure about my skin,” she says. The formula contains 0.1% adapalene, which regulates cell turnover to prevent pores from getting clogged.

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment Gel

Meet my go-to spot treatment —I have used it on breakouts all over my body, including my back, and I love how quickly it works. It contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, which stops the growth of the bacteria that causes acne and reduces redness quickly, according to the brand. It also dries clear, so no one can tell you are wearing anything if you need to leave the house with it on.

How to prevent bacne

Once you get your back acne under control, your goal should be to try and prevent it from popping up again. These habits can help prevent bacne, according to our experts:

  • Continue using a medicated body wash: Even after your bacne has subsided, you can keep using a body wash for acne, says Chacon. This will help keep your pores unclogged and bacteria from congregating on your back.
  • Let your back breathe: “Focus on wearing clothing that breathes —especially in warmer months,” says Chacon. This will help prevent sweating, which can clog pores and cause breakouts.
  • Shower after your workout: Hanging out in your sweaty gym clothes can introduce acne-causing bacteria to your back. “After sweating, shower as soon as possible to prevent sweat and oil from clogging pores,” says Chacon.
  • Wash sheets frequently: Bacteria and dead skin cells can accumulate on your sheets. If you are a back sleeper, washing your sheets regularly is especially important. Aim for once a week.
  • Skip dirty towels: Similarly to your sheets, make sure you dry off with a clean towel after taking a shower or bath—otherwise, you may be transferring bacteria to your skin. Damp towels are particularly prone to growing bacteria. Make sure you hang your towel to dry completely in a well-ventilated room after every shower.
Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts with specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Why trust NBC Select?

Bethany Heitman is a contributor at NBC Select and a journalist who regularly covers beauty, home and lifestyle. For this story, she interviewed two board-certified dermatologists.

Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

Bethany Heitman

Bethany Heitman is a contributing editor at NBC Select.

How to get rid of back acne, according to dermatologists (2024)


How to get rid of back acne, according to dermatologists? ›

Oral treatments: Oral antibiotics can be prescribed to treat moderate to severe backne. In some cases, isotretinoin can be used to get rid of acne with a low chance of the condition returning.

What will a dermatologist do for back acne? ›

Oral treatments: Oral antibiotics can be prescribed to treat moderate to severe backne. In some cases, isotretinoin can be used to get rid of acne with a low chance of the condition returning.

What can doctors do for back acne? ›

If your acne is severe or appears on your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or stronger creams that are only available on prescription.

Why did my back acne get so bad? ›

Like facial acne, a number of factors can predispose a person to developing shoulder or back acne, but lifestyle factors are typically the driving force behind these lesions. Tight-fitting clothes, insufficient hygiene, and picking at pimples can all lead to the development of severe acne.

Is back acne genetic? ›

“Back acne is triggered by the same conditions that cause facial acne,” says David Harvey, M.D., a dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Piedmont. This includes: Genetics. If your parents or family members were plagued by acne, you may have a greater risk of inheriting the triggers that cause the condition.

Why is back acne so hard to get rid of? ›

Back acne, or backne, occurs when dead skin cells and oil from the sebaceous glands block pores, causing inflammation. It can be harder to see and reach acne on the back in order to treat it. However, a range of effective OTC and prescription treatments are available, and using an applicator can help.

How do dermatologists treat body acne? ›

Depending on your medical history, symptoms and what's causing the outbreak, dermatologists may prescribe oral medications such as Accutane or antibiotics, or a topical medication like clindamycin, she said. They might also recommend chemical peels or treatments that use lasers or light, Dr. Hoss said.

What age is acne the worst? ›

However, certain trends can be observed: Adolescence: Acne often makes its grand entrance during the teenage years, typically between the ages of 12 to 18. This is due to hormonal fluctuations that stimulate the sebaceous (oil) glands, resulting in increased oil production.

Can back acne be cured permanently? ›

You may be able to clear or prevent back acne with habits like exfoliating regularly, wearing loose clothes, and making certain dietary changes. If that doesn't work, treatment can include medication. Pimples can be a challenge to treat, no matter where you get them.

What do most dermatologists prescribe for acne? ›

For moderate to severe acne, you may need oral antibiotics to reduce bacteria. Usually the first choice for treating acne is a tetracycline (minocycline, doxycycline) or a macrolide (erythromycin, azithromycin).

Is back acne unattractive? ›

Back acne (or “bacne”) is acne that develops on your back. It causes pimples that appear as red bumps, whiteheads or blackheads. These zits can be unsightly, annoying and painful.

How to get rid of back acne overnight? ›

Unfortunately, back acne is not something which can be treated overnight, however, there are multiple at-home and in-clinic solutions to treat and manage it. At-home remedies include the use of anti-bacterial washes, or washes containing acids, these can be bought over the counter.

How to get rid of back acne naturally? ›

Natural Remedies for Back Acne
  1. Tea Tree Oil. ronstik/Getty Images. ...
  2. Natural Exfoliators. Herb Dehler/EyeEm/Getty Images. ...
  3. Botanical Emollients. Ruth Jenkinson/Getty Images. ...
  4. Anti-Inflammatory Foods. Westend61/Getty Images. ...
  5. Low-Glycemic Foods. John Anthony Rizzo/Getty Images. ...
  6. Zinc-Rich Foods. ...
  7. Reduced Dairy Intake. ...
  8. Stress Management.
Jan 25, 2023

Is sleeping shirtless good for acne? ›

Shedding clothes that you've been wearing all day gives your skin a chance to breathe. If you suffer from body acne, eczema or any other minor skin condition, sleeping naked gets that all-important oxygen to problem areas. It will also give your skin a break from the irritation of rubbing clothes.

What soap to use for back acne? ›

Cetaphil Acne Relief Body Wash

“This is a great option for those who struggle with body acne and also have sensitive skin,” she says. “It's extremely gentle and non-irritating and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean.”

How to remove body acne? ›

Here are eight ways you can fight chest acne before pimples develop or help clear a breakout after pimples have formed.
  1. Shower regularly. ...
  2. Use an acne-fighting body wash. ...
  3. Exfoliate once a week. ...
  4. Use a non-comedogenic body lotion. ...
  5. Try spot treatments. ...
  6. Try a new laundry detergent. ...
  7. Wear loose and breathable fabrics. ...
  8. Stay hydrated.

Can you go to the doctor for back acne? ›

If you suffer from back acne or “bacne”, you should be referred to a dermatologist who can assess your skin. Severe acne should be treated with medication before skin treatments and only alongside products that have been recommended by the dermatologist.

When should I go to the doctor for back acne? ›

If back acne lingers or keeps coming back, see your dermatologist. They may recommend other prescription skin care products to treat severe acne. Or you may need antibiotics or other oral medications.

How do you get rid of back acne seriously? ›

Acne friendly skin care essential
  1. Develop these habits when working out or getting sweaty. ...
  2. Cleanse your skin gently. ...
  3. Stop irritating your skin with harsh skin care products. ...
  4. Use oil-free skin care products and cosmetics. ...
  5. Avoid using anything that rubs against your back, such as a backpack.
Sep 12, 2023

Is there a prescription for back acne? ›

Prescription back acne treatments

Prescription-strength retinoids, including tazarotene (Tazorac) and tretinoin (Retin-A), fight acne in the same ways adapalene does but they are stronger and more likely to work for moderate to severe back acne. Oral or topical antibiotics.

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