Facial acne is so common that we don’t think twice about the occasional pimple or blackhead. However, we’re often surprised when we get a breakout on our back and shoulders. Where did that come from?
What causes back and body acne?
Acne can form anywhere on the body. While back and shoulder acne are the most common, some people get acne on their chest, buttocks, inner thighs, or even scalp.
Back and body acne are often triggered by the same factors that cause the acne on our face. The most common culprit is hormones that lead to the overproduction of oil (read our article on Adult Acne). It can also be hereditary.
Like facial acne, back acne can come in the form of black heads or white heads, or the more painful pustules (pimples) and papules (small pink bumps that feel tender when touched). When back acne is infected, it turns into pus-filled cysts that can often look like a boil.
You may also develop what’s called “acne mechanica” or bumps that resemble a prickly heat rash. This is actually caused or worsened by irritation from trapped moisture, or continuous friction or pressure on an area. This can be triggered by anything from your back pack to the mats to wearing ‘non-breathable” fabrics when you’re working out at the gym. This is very common among athletes.
Can I use facial acne products to treat back acne?
Theoretically, yes. The ingredients in facial care can clear the pores, fight inflammation, and kill bacteria regardless of what part of the body on which they are applied.
However, the skin on the back is thicker than that of the face. You may need a stronger or more textured exfoliating ingredient that can help slough off the dead skin cells that clog pores.
If you frequently get back acne, get an anti-bacterial body soap or body wash. You may also want to switch your body moisturizers for a lighter, non-comedogenic formula.
Just like facial acne, body and back acne can’t always be avoided, but it can be treated. This is just a “bump” in the road.
Mei Hui - Managing Director/Pharmacist