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Simple Tips and Tricks to Help Get Rid of Back Acne

By Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

Back acne can be uncomfortable as well as embarrassing. Wearing a shirt on a back that has acne can lead to more irritation. Take the shirt off or wear a tank top and you may feel the embarrassment of more people seeing the blemishes. While it may seem like you are all alone in the quest to fight back acne, you are anything but. The National Institutes of Health reports that 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30 have acne at some point in their life. The back is one of the most common areas that people get acne, along with the face, neck, and shoulders.

Understanding how to get rid of back acne
Back acne can give you discomfort but you always have the choice to end it and be confident again.


  • Back acne is one of the most common forms in which people get acne.
  • There are numerous reasons that can cause the acne, including hormones, bacteria, clogged pores, etc.
  • There are multiple options when it comes to finding a way to clear up the acne, including through diet, prescription medications, essential oils, and special clothing.
  • Those with acne on their back report having a better quality of life than those who have the blemishes on their face.
  • It’s important to consider our unique factors when choosing an acne treatment option, including your skin type, budget, and preferences.
  • Some acne on the back can be caused from workout routines or engaging in sports, but there are ways you can help avoid this happening.

It’s a good idea to have an understanding of what acne is so that you can then take on the challenge of removing and preventing it. Back acne, like most other types of acne, is a skin disorder that affects the oil glands in the skin, as well as the hair follicles. The glands in your skin make an oily substance that is called sebum. At times, you may be making more sebum, which can lead to the hair, sebum, and skin cells to getting clumped up, and together they form a plug. When that happens, the plug can swell up and when it breaks down it creates a pimple. The good news is that today there are many ways to help prevent and address back acne. It’s all a matter of knowing what to do help keep your skin clear, smooth, and beautiful.

Quality Of Life

Anyone who has had to deal with acne knows that it can take a toll on their life. Research shows that it can lead to depression, lower self esteem, and it can diminish one’s quality of life. These are all good reasons; beyond wanting to love what you see when you look in the mirror, for diving in deep to address the back acne once and for all. One silver lining for those who have acne on their back, rather than on their face, is that they may not suffer psychologically as much.

In a study published in the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, researchers looked at the impact that having back acne has on one’s quality of life, as compared to having facial acne. They evaluated the need for a comprehensive scale that covered the quality of life data from those with acne on the back and face. They found that those with acne on their back had a higher quality of life than those with facial acne. Those who have facial acne tend to have the lowest quality of life when it comes to assessing people with acne. While those who have acne on the back may have a higher quality of life, they can still suffer from embarrassment and irritation, making it important that they find a way to successfully address the issue.

What Causes Acne

While we know how acne breakouts happen, many people may not know what it is that triggers them. There can be numerous reasons why you experience a breakout, including when it comes to back acne. Fluctuating hormones can lead to an increase in sebum production, which can lead to an increase in acne. This is why it’s so common for adolescents to experience acne, because they are also going through a lot of hormonal changes.

Acne can also be caused by taking certain medications, wearing greasy makeup, and even genetics. In fact, a study published in the journal Twin Research and Human Genetics reported that through studies done on twins, they found that up to 80 percent of acne can be attributed to heredity. It may help for some people to know that their acne problem, including their back acne, is through no fault of their own. It’s just what their DNA ordered up, but the good news is that there are things they can do to help address it.

The Many Ways To Help Clear Up Back Acne

When it comes to taking on the acne on your back and removing the acne for good, you have numerous options to choose from. Ideally, you should evaluate the options that are available and determine which one makes a good fit for you. Anytime you are choosing an acne treatment, it is important to consider your individual skin type, as well as your budget, and the amount of time and effort you want to put into it. The good thing is that there is an acne treatment option that makes a good fit for everyone.

Here are some effective back acne treatment options to consider:

One of the most common things that people are given when they see a dermatologist for acne are prescription antibiotics. Over the years, the particular varieties being prescribed have changed some, because more people are becoming antibiotic-resistant. This is happening because people are using too many antibiotics, so the bacteria adapts and becomes resistant to the treatment. However, there are still some antibiotic varieties that are being prescribed for acne, including for back acne.

In a study published in the journal Experimental Dermatology, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of using isotretinoin and lymecycline to treat acne, particularly that which is found on the back. Isotretinoin is known by the name Accutane and is a retinoid, while lymecycline is an antibiotic. Researchers reported that both of these prescriptions did reduce the acne grades and abundance of bacteria. Both of these products are only available by prescription, so you will need to see a physician to give them a try.

Takeaway: If you have tried other options and cannot clear up the acne, you may want to consider giving prescription options a try. Speak with a dermatologist to see if you are a good fit for them and if they believe you would have success in clearing up the acne. It is important to note that prescription medications typically have side effects, so be sure to get the facts on that before beginning any new medications.

Essential Oils

You may have heard of essential oils, but perhaps are not familiar with what they are. They are oils that are derived from plants through either a steaming or pressure process. The oil is the “essence” of the plant and is a powerful ingredient in helping to address back acne. There are many different types of essential oils that can be used to help eliminate acne. You should research essential oils for acne more in-depth so you can determine which one may be the best for you to try out.

A study that was published in the journal called Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine shined the light on the many types of essential oils that can be used for treating acne. They report that there are at least 90 essential oils that can be recommended for dermatological use, with at least 1,500 combinations. Some of the essential oils that made the list that will help address acne include yarrow, Frankinscense, cedar wood, lime, peppermint, bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin, and tea tree.

Takeaway: Essential oils are affordable, safe to use, and are effective in helping to treat back acne. Try picking up a bottle of one of these essential oils or a skincare product that contains them, to see if they will help clear up the acne. One of the most effective essential oils for treating acne is tea tree oil, which can be purchased at most health food stores and online. Just dab it on the acne 2-3 times per day.


Not only will taking probiotics help you eliminate the acne, but it can help your health in other areas, too. They are good for digestion and can even help keep your heart healthy, among other benefits. Whether you get your probiotics in the form of a supplement each day or you consume more foods that have them, such as yogurt, you will be doing your body good. The research shows that they also play an active role in helping to have healthy skin.

There have been numerous research studies backing up the use of probiotics in dermatology. One was published in the journal Nutrition, in which researchers reported that probiotics have an excellent safety profile and are used in inflammatory skin conditions. They reviewed 42 studies where probiotics had been put to the test to help with skin conditions. In another study, published in the International Journal of Dermatology, researchers reported that some probiotics are not only helpful in the prevention of acne, but that they are helpful in addressing current issues with it.

Takeaway: Probiotics, which are beneficial microorganisms, can help you clear up back acne, as well as improve other areas of your health. You can pick them up at local health foods stores, drug stores, and online. There are also some acne treatment systems that come with one, such as the one mentioned further down in this article. Give them a try and see what they do for your acne, as well as your overall health.

Probiotics, which are beneficial microorganisms, can help you clear up back acne, as well as improve other areas of your health.
Consuming probiotics can help you ensure healthy body, and that means a healthy skin as well.


Most of us eat three times per day, and what we put into our bodies has a big impact on our overall health. It can even have an impact on whether or not you have acne. There are some foods that have been found to promote more acne breakouts, making it important that you check out your diet if you want to get a handle on your back acne. Some of the foods that researchers have pointed to as being the culprits in leading to acne problems include processed carbs, chocolate, unhealthy fats, and dairy.

In a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, researchers tested to see if a diet high in dairy intake in early adolescents is associated with moderate to severe acne in later adolescence. They found that those who had a diet higher in full-fat dairy products had more issues with acne. However, there was no association for those who consumed skim dairy products. They concluded that dairy consumption is a contributing factor to acne.

Takeaway: As resistant as we sometimes are to do so, it’s a good idea to be honest with yourself about your diet to see if you are consuming a lot of foods that may lead to more back acne. If you consume a lot of full-fat dairy products, you may want to consider trying skim products or reducing your dairy consumption all together. Today there are many non-dairy products on the market, making it easy to make a swap.


Dealing with back acne is a little different than facial acne. That’s because in most cases you have to put something on your skin, get dressed, and go about your day. You may have to go to work, where you will have a shirt on your back all day. This can lead to irritation of the acne, as well as just being uncomfortable. If you a light-colored shirt on you may also have a pimple pop, putting marks on your shirt, and possibly staining it. It’s not a fun situation to deal with, but there are options.

While most people likely don’t consider their shirt material when it comes to back acne, there’s a good reason to start doing so. In a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, researchers evaluated the material with the name brand of DermaSilk, which is a special silk textile that is made from a silk protein and has an antimicrobial property. They gave the shirts made from the special material to 14 patients who had back acne, and had them wear the shirts every night for six weeks. They monitored their acne during that period. Participants were not doing any other lifestyle or acne treatments at the time of the study. They found that participants experienced a significant reduction in acne on their back and that the material is safe to use.

Takeaway: The clothing you wear can make your back acne worse, or help it to improve. You may want to try picking up a DermaSilk Therapeutics shirt to wear to bed every night, or try one of their other shirt options and see what it does to help clear up the acne. It may be that the simplest way for you to clear up acne on your back is to change what you wear to bed each night.


If you engage in sports on a regular basis and have acne on your back, there is a chance the two are related. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, some sports equipment and clothing create the perfect environment for acne to thrive. Referred to as acne mechanica, it’s the type of acne that you can get when heat, sweat, and bacteria are trapped on your skin. It’s easy for this to happen when you engage in sports, and often does. From football players to gymnasts, sports clothing and equipment can lead to breakouts on your back, as well as other areas of your body.

Suspecting this could be where your back acne is coming from is no reason to stop exercising or engaging in sports, but you can take measures to help put a stop to it. Ways they suggest you help reduce and eliminate this is to put a clean, soft padding between your skin and sports equipment, wear moisture-wicking clothing when you workout, trade in the tight-fitting clothing for loose-fitting clothing, and treat the current acne.

Takeaway: If you want to have a healthy lifestyle, you need to engage in exercise, but it can lead to back acne if you don’t take preventative measures. Be sure to make the necessary changes so that you gain only benefits from your engagement in sports, rather than leaving the gym with acne on your back.

Mimicking Acne

There are some people who think they have acne on their back, only to find out that what they really have is acneiform, which are dermatoses eruptions that resemble acne. The difference is that acneiform lacks comedones, which are bumps on the skin that arise because of a clogged hair follicle. You can also treat acneiform if you know that’s what it is on your back, rather than it being acne.

In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, researchers reported that vitamin B12 had given study participants acneiform. When they discontinued taking it, the acneiform cleared up within 3-6 weeks. The remission of the acneiform was spontaneous and complete once the people stopped taking the Vitamin B12.

Takeaway: It’s a good idea to make sure that you don’t have acneiform on your back, rather than acne. If you take a vitamin B12 supplement, it could be the culprit. You may want to try cutting it out for a few weeks to see if the outbreak on your back clears up. If you are vitamin B12 deficient, speak to your doctor about making this change.

Top-Rated Treatment Products for Clearing up Acne

Along with trying some of the options above, you may have more success clearing up back acne when you combine your efforts with a highly rated acne treatment product.

Exposed Skincare Kit
Exposed Skincare combines nourishing natural ingredients with just the right concentration of acne-fighting active ingredients to improve your skin.

Exposed. Those who have used the Exposed Skin Care system love it. In fact, 98% of them have reported that within 30 days they saw results. Unlike most products, this is a complete acne treatment system, so it gives you everything you need to address the issue. It even comes with a probiotic, and the tools that you need, such as a microfiber cloth for gentle exfoliating. With this system, you will be able to cleanse, treat, and moisturize. Everything you need comes with the system, saving you money and helping to increase your success rate.

Keeva. This highly rated product for acne has powerful tea tree oil in it. A simple cream, you can apply this to your skin, wait for it to soak in, and be on your way. It’s also helpful in addressing acne scars, controlling oily skin, and brightening skin tone. Made from all organic ingredients, it also doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals. Reviewers believe it’s magic in a jar and report that it works great.

TreeActiv Acne Eliminating Body Spray. This all natural spray is one that you can use on your body, including your back, to help eliminate the acne. It contains a powerful mixture of tea tree oil, aloe, witch hazel, menthol, and mint. The spray helps clear up current outbreaks and prevent future ones. Those who have used the product report that it works great and smells good, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it common to have back acne?

A. Yes, the most common places to have acne are on the face, back, shoulders, and neck. If you have acne on your back, you are not alone, millions of people do.

Q. What causes acne outbreaks on the back?

A.There are several things that can contribute to having acne on the back, including clogged pores, workouts and bacteria from workout equipment, and hormones.

Q. What is the best way to treat acne that is on the back?

A.There is no one best way to treat it. It’s important to consider the options, your skin type, budget, and then determine which to try. You have to see which one works best for you.

Q. Do foods lead to acne?

A. There are some foods that have been found to lead to acne. Some of them include chocolate, unhealthy fats, and dairy.

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Anonymous Reply

Does this work for chest too ?

March 28, 2012 at 6:28 am Reply
Martin Reply

Good question. We actually have a separate article on how to treat chest acne.

March 28, 2012 at 9:09 am Reply
Mike Reply

Does this apply for benzoyl peroxide creams as well as gels? I am just about to begin using a 5% cream and am worried about dressing and sleeping with it on as I don't want to ruin my clothes and bedding due to bleaching. If I could wake up early, shower, apply the cream, and shower again 15 mins later, then get dressed without worrying about its bleaching effect and knowing that it is still working at almost 100%, I would be seriously happy!

August 16, 2013 at 2:11 am Reply
Prabhjot Athwal Reply

What about dark marks on the back?

January 8, 2019 at 1:03 am Reply

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