Summer is well on its way, but if you struggle with back acne, you might not be ready to say goodbye to your trusty turtlenecks just yet. It’s a stressful time—especially if you’ve spent more than one occasion staring at a cystic breakout on your back, wondering if you can get away with wearing a sweater in 70 degree weather. Needless to say, having back acne can affect your self confidence, but we’re here to reassure you that covering up isn’t your only option.
Back acne is a little different from facial acne because it’s often cystic or nodular, meaning the bumps are typically under the surface and quite painful. These are the types of lesions that seem to triple in size if you try to pop them and can leave a dark mark (maybe even a scar) if you continue to squeeze. Bacne may also emerge in the form of blackheads and whiteheads. This is because your back, like your face, has sebaceous (oil) glands. The main difference is that the pores and hair follicles on your back are larger than the ones on your face, so when the oil on your back combines with dead skin cells and other bacteria, it’s all too common to experience a breakout. But we can’t put all the blame on pore size for our bacne woes. Genetics, hormones, diet, and hygiene can all influence acne-formation.
The good news is, there are precautions you can take to avoid back acne and breakouts.
Rethink your diet
We can’t change our genes, but dietary changes can make a huge difference for certain people. Some studies have linked acne and dairy intake, particularly when it comes to skim milk. Dermatologists are unsure of why this is, but guess that hormones and growth factors might be to blame. Unfortunately for those with a sweet tooth, sugar has also been linked to acne in certain individuals. Researchers have found that the spikes in blood sugar from eating high-glycemic foods can contribute to acne. If you suspect dairy or sugar to be the culprits behind your back acne, try keeping a food and skin diary to see if you can find a correlation.
Switch up your shower routine
We all love a steaming hot shower now and then, but to avoid disrupting your skin’s natural oil production, it’s best to keep the water temperature lukewarm and stick to sulfate-free hair and body products. Even with sulfate-free products, a good rule of thumb is to wash and condition your hair before washing your body. This will ensure that there is no pore-clogging residue left behind. If you can’t stand the idea of washing your conditioner out right away, use a hair clip to keep it off of your back. And ditch the loofah, too. It’s a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria.
Exfoliate your back regularly
Your face isn’t the only part of your body that can benefit from regular exfoliation. If you really want to up your shower game, apply an exfoliating mask and scrub to your back a few minutes prior to jumping in. (You might want to ask for help with this!) An enzyme and acid mask like the Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant will help you shed the dead skin cells responsible for clogging your pores and promote a more even skin