Back acne (or as the cool kids call it, bacne) is a particular kind of hell. Unlike regular acne, it’s tough to tell if you even have it, and once you glimpse those telltale zits in the mirror, it’s hard to treat it because it’s a total pain to reach all the way back there.
Whether it’s on your face, back, or butt, acne is always caused by the same ol’ stuff, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s department of dermatology. Think of your pores as pipes that connect your oil glands to your skin: if they clog up, a pimple develops.
You’re more prone to getting zits on your chest or back (as opposed to, say, the bottoms of your feet) because those areas have a higher concentration of hair follicles and sebaceous glands, or glands that secrete an oily matter called sebum, explains Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at New York University Langone and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
The bad news? Often, it’s the most active among us who suffer from bacne. If you work out in tight, restrictive clothing and you don’t shower immediately afterwards, you’ve got a seriously good recipe for an eruption.
Additionally, back acne can be caused by any number of factors, from stress to your own genes, says Dr. Hooman Khorasani of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “Our genetics dictate how much sebum we produce, how often our cells turnover, and how prone we are to bacterial overgrowth [in the sebum-producing ducts],” says Dr. Khorasani.
But here’s the good news: back acne is a mostly preventable condition. Keeping stress levels low, working out in loose-fitting, breathable fabrics, and showering and changing immediately after exercise can help clear things up. So can using these 13 dermatologist-approved, bacne-fighting products.
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
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This serum-like product with retinoid goes on very easily, which is key for compliance — something that’s crucial for acne treatment, says Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., a dermatologist based in West Islip, NY. Apply a small amount at night before you go to bed.
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