Why Do I Have Back Acne?
by Deborah Spalla
When you think of acne, you typically think of a teenager with acne on his or her face. In fact, acne can crop up virtually anywhere on the body when the right (or wrong) conditions are met. It can also start at virtually any age; so don’t be surprised if you start having breakouts again long after you thought they were over.
This is why both teenagers and adults can find themselves suffering the visible and uncomfortable effects of acne eruptions on their back as well as their face and other areas on the body.
The causes of acne – including back acne
Back acne is just like every other type of acne in terms of what it requires to emerge:
- Hair follicles. Wherever there are hair follicles, there are deep pockets that penetrate the upper skin layers. These pockets make great “collectors” of excess oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, small particles of dust/dirt and so on. Sometimes these follicles are more closed than they should be or are more exposed to irritants from the surface of the skin, which can increase your chances of getting pimples.
- Natural oils. The sebaceous glands are also located deep in the skin layers at the base of hair follicles. These glands produce natural oils, used by the body to moisturize and protect our skin and hair. Some of us have more active sebaceous glands than others, and most people with acne fall into this category – although not all.
- Bacteria. Most people go crazy cleaning their skin to get rid of acne. While a regular cleansing and moisturizing routine are important, this won’t do much to treat full-blown acne. A very specific type of bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, causes acne. Everyone has this bacteria living deep in their skin, but it becomes a problem when it accumulates in hair follicles, trapped by natural oil buildup, dead skin cells and so on. Without professional attention, it’s rare that you can get deep enough into clogged follicles or pores to cleanse them fully.
- Hormones. In almost all cases (excluding acne caused by environmental allergens, medication or medical conditions) acne can be pinpointed to increased levels of androgens, or male hormones. This is why it’s so prevalent during puberty and the teen years, and why it happens again for adults experiencing hormone fluctuations – often the result of the scaling back of the reproductive system.
- Inherent sensitivity. In some cases, individuals are more sensitive to the presence of Propionibacterium acnes than others, which make them more prone to acne – even if their skin doesn’t seem particularly oily.
- Genetics. Those who have a family history of acne are more likely to experience acne themselves.
While the face is the most visible spot on the body, all of these factors can unite to cause acne eruptions on backs and chests too.
What should I do if I have acne on my back?
While experts know the typical factors that cause acne, we still don’t know exactly why some people are more prone to it than others. What we do know is that a healthy lifestyle, a little special attention, and regular acne treatments with a licensed skin care professional can go a long way towards diminishing eruptions, reducing their overall appearance and discomfort and – in some cases – can clear acne up altogether.
Here are things you can do to treat acne on your back:
Focus on a healthy diet and lifestyle
While most research proves that diet doesn’t seem to have as much of a link to acne as previously thought, we also know that healthy diets support healthy immune systems. Acne is, by nature, an inflammatory response; so the more you can do to keep inflammation down, the better.
If possible, try to focus on an anti-inflammatory diet, which minimizes processed sugars, carbs, and fatty products and highlights lean meats, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and a high-fiber intake. In addition to reducing inflammation, you may find your acne symptoms calm down a bit.
Visit a licensed skin care specialist
Schedule a consultation with a local, licensed skin care specialist. (S)He will take a look at your acne and do an inventory of sorts of your lifestyle and daily habits as well as the types of products you use. The wrong products or sensitivity to certain additives, botanicals or chemicals can cause or exacerbate acne and an esthetician may be able to figure out what you’re sensitive to. (S)He may also provide professional extractions and personalized acne treatment. This clears up existing pimples – both black and whiteheads – which provides a fresh start for the skin as you begin your new skin care routine.
Shower daily and use a gentle, soft bristled brush to clean your back
In truth, the bacteria and follicle build-up that cause acne reside deep in the skin layers, where a simple surface wash can’t access. That being said, any bacteria, oil buildup and other irritants that affect the upper layers of skin can exacerbate conditions underneath. Showering daily, especially after workouts, using a soft-bristled brush and an acne-specific cleanser may calm things down. Ensure skin, hair and other beauty care products – including sunscreen – are free of irritating chemicals or fragrance.
Wash and change sheets and clothes regularly
For the same reasons, you should wash and change your clothing and sheets regularly. This keeps exposure to sweat, environmental toxins, bacteria, and other triggers to a minimum. Loose-fitting clothing will also help to prevent contact-triggered eruptions. Make sure to use laundry detergent and fabric softening products that are fragrance-free and as free from chemical additives as possible.
Back acne is uncomfortable and can make you self-conscious but attention to lifestyle and care from a professional can make a big difference. Contact us here at Skin Deep to schedule an appointment and learn more about the skin care treatments that will improve your acne flare-ups so they become a thing of the past.