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back acne

Beautiful young woman face with clean skin

At the offices of Brian J. Williams, MD, PC, we’re here to help with all areas of skin treatment that might come up, including acne problems. A common issue in men, but can also crop up in some women, is back acne.

Back acne is whiteheads, blackheads and cysts in various areas on the back. It has some similarities to normal facial acne, but a few specific skin care treatments are required. Let’s look at all the basics you need to know when it comes to acne on the back, including what causes it, how you can treat it, and how you can go about preventing it from happening in the first place through smart habits.

Basics and Causes

Back acne is caused by many of the same precursors that cause acne on the face. These include hormone changes, oil production, bacteria presence, and excess dead skin cells that clog pores. People who sweat a lot or wear tight clothing that sticks to the skin may also be at higher risk than others to get acne on their backs.

Treating Back Acne

There are a few ways to treat acne on the back:

  • Topical antibiotics: Use a daily salicylic-based body wash or gel. This will help exfoliate dead skin without drying the skin out too badly. Any body wash with benzoyl peroxide can also be helpful, as this will kill bacteria that leads to acne.
  • Avoid tight clothing during exercise, and wear loose breathable fabrics that will remove sweat from your skin.
  • Use a physical exfoliator or scrub at least once or twice a week, or up to three times if you don’t have particularly sensitive skin.
  • Shower right after exercising, or use portable salicylic or glycolic acid pads to whisk away sweat and prevent bacteria growth.


Certain acne-combating soaps and lotions have a tendency to leave the skin more susceptible to sunburn. If you plan to be out in the sun and have treated back acne with one of these products recently, choose an oil-free sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Many facial sunscreens are designed specifically for acne-heavy skin, and can be used safely on the back as well.

To learn more about back acne or how a dermatologist can help, speak to the staff at Brian J. Williams, MD, PC today.