Bacne, or acne on the back, may not be as readily apparent to others as facial acne. But it is often just as troublesome—and troubling—for people who suffer, sometimes even more so.
For one thing, back skin tends to contain thousands of sebaceous (oil-producing) glands. These glands can work overtime, especially for young men going through puberty, and produce excess oil that plugs up pores that may already be clogged with dead skin cells and bacteria. Presto—pimples.
In addition, acne on the back can become irritated and inflamed through repeated rubbing and moisture. Think about things many young people come in contact with daily—backpacks, tight clothing, football pads—and it’s easy to see how bacne can become a real nuisance. It can spread over a large area and be difficult to reach and bring under control.
Furthermore, bacne can cause just as much embarrassment as facial acne. People tend to suffer from bacne just when their self-esteem is most vulnerable—around the teen years. It can cause anguish to the extent that young people avoid sports, swimming pools and locker rooms.
To treat bacne, dermatologists typically recommend starting with less aggressive treatment and progressing from there until a solution is found. Moves everyone with bacne should make include:
-- Wearing loose-fitting, breathe-able clothing whenever possible
-- Discontinuing the use of a backpack, at least temporarily
-- Using hypo-allergenic, fragrance-free detergents, soaps and lotions
-- Trying to shower after a workout when possible
-- Treating skin gently, avoiding vigorous scrubbing
Trying an over-the-counter medication is usually the first step in combating bacne. According to the Mayo Clinic, drugstore lotions may contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or other active ingredients (see www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne). After an initial period that may include some irritation and dryness, these products help many acne sufferers.
If bacne persists, trying prescription strength lotions is the next step.