Acne can be a nightmare on its own, but if you’ve ever experienced a painful, huge zit right in the middle of your back where you can’t reach it, then you know that’s a specific kind of hell. Which is why you may want to invest in a body wash for bacne. Back acne (known as bacne), can appear as anything from annoying whiteheads and clogged blackheads, to big, ache-y pustules. While more severe breakouts, like cystic acne or painful nodules may require a dermatologist visit, there are things you can do—and use—at home to prevent milder cases of bacne. Some products may seem somewhat similar to the ones we use for facial acne in terms of ingredients, however, the delivery system might be more geared to those hard-to-reach spots (like a body wash or a spray.)
- Marina Peredo, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skinfluence
What causes bacne?
But before we get into treatments, it’s good to know exactly what exactly causes bacne—you may not like the answer, though. According to Marina Peredo, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, there’s no one thing we can point to. “Acne on the back can be caused by many different factors,” Dr. Peredo says. “Your hormones can be blamed for back acne. Testosterone levels can contribute to back acne by increasing the production of sebum, which may then lead to blocked pores. Estrogen levels related to the menstrual cycle can also trigger breakouts.” Other causes of bacne, she says, can be friction-related, like wearing ill-fitting clothing that rubs against your skin, or from exercising. It can also result from a combination of clogged pores, bacteria, inflammation, sweat, and dirt.
How to prevent bacne
When it comes to bacne prevention, there are a few tips that are probably pretty obvious, like practicing good hygiene and making sure you shower post-workout (even if you’re exhausted and just want to watch Real Housewives). “Make sure to exfoliate the area in order to not clog pores,” Dr. Peredo says. “Try to keep your hair off of your back, especially when working out, as it can increase dirt and oil on the skin.” You should also avoid tight clothing, wear cotton instead of polyester since it’s a more breathable material, and lastly, use a fragrance-free laundry detergent. (Another somewhat obvious tip? Make sure you wash your bedsheets and pillowcases regularly!)
To treat bacne, Dr. Peredo suggests using a body wash that is formulated with benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, or salicylic acid. “These ingredients have antibacterial properties that can fight acne-causing bacteria. Body washes are the best way to treat acne on the back, since it is hard to reach.” If you do choose to use a topical treatment, like a cream, Dr. Peredo warns that benzoyl peroxide can bleach clothing. Additionally, you should avoid anything that is oil-based or ointment-based, as it can be “very occlusive and further aggravate existing acne.”
Ahead, Dr. Peredo shares seven of her favorite products for fighting bacne.
The body body washes and products that fight bacne
This longtime crowd-favorite body wash (that grapefruit scent takes us back) is formulated with salicylic acid and helps reduce oil production and prevent breakouts. It also contains grapefruit-derived vitamin C, an antioxidant which helps with overall skin health and brightness. While Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit body wash is powerful, it doesn’t leave skin parched after using it. If you plan on washing with it for awhile, we recommend getting a three-pack from Amazon for $20.
Dr. Peredo says this is especially great for those who have sensitive skin, and it decreases bacteria while also moisturizing (in a 20 second wash test, it showed to successfully go up against E. coli).
Dr. Peredo likes that this body wash contains salicylic acid with ceramides that exfoliate to help clear acne and hydrate the skin. So, not only does it help fight blemishes, it also leaves skin baby smooth (and can tackle those bumps on your upper arms). It’s also non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.
This multipurpose body wash gives a refreshing boost to the skin while purifying it from dirt and oil, thanks to salicylic acid, jujube bark extract, tea tree extract, and peppermint oil. You can also use it on your face and hair, in case you’re dealing with breakouts in those areas as well.
“This nano-formulated skin solution spray can help prevent acne and contains Glutathione, which is anti-acne and anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Peredo. Plus, since it’s a spray, it’s easy to apply to the back. The nice thing about this spray, is that you can apply it throughout the day without having to wash it off—perfect for post-gym, if you don’t have time to hop in a shower right away.
From Dr. Peredo’s own skin-care brand, these glycolic acid pads will help bring an extra bacne-fighting boost in addition to using a body wash. (She also recommends the Skinfluence Body Retinol, which isn’t available to purchase online, but is a great product for bacne, “especially with patients that have a lot of clogged pores and blackheads on their back.”)
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