Back acne or commonly known as Bacne refers to acne on one’s back, shoulders and sometimes the neck. Acne can also occur on the chest and abdomen.
It is reported that 40-50% of those with facial acne may experience back and body acne. However, some may experience isolated back or body acne without facial involvement.
Similar to facial acne, acne on the back or body occurs when pores in the skin are blocked, resulting in infection and inflammation, leading to an acne outbreak.
Pores can be blocked by sweat, sebum (oil), dirt or topical skincare products such as massage oils or lotions for example.
Singapore’s unrelenting heat and humidity tends to exacerbate the problem by causing increased perspiration. Outdoor exercises in the heat, coupled with tight body fitting gym or sportswear have been associated with an increased risk in body and back acne.
States of hormonal imbalances such as puberty or in medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome may alter androgen levels in the blood, leading to overstimulation of oil glands, and increased production of sebum, thereby blocking pores and causing acne.
Stress from work or exams for example, lead to increased levels of a hormone called cortisol in the body. When cortisol levels rise, it impairs the regulation of sebum, resulting in clogged pores and acne outbreaks.
Red, angry looking pustules or cystic acne on the body and back may appear unsightly which may affect’s one choice of clothes such as swimwear for example.
Pain and Irritation
Inflamed back acne is often very painful which makes leaning on one’s back in a seated position difficult because of the discomfort. Sleeping on the back may also prove to be uncomfortable in cases of severe back acne.
Back Acne Scarring
The skin on the body and back heal more poorly when compared to the face. Hence, back and body acne may leave behind hyperpigmented brown scars (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
Other types of scars include depressed scars (holes) or raised scars (hypertrophic keloid scars).
Such scars tend to take months to years to fully heal and often require treatment with depigmentation creams or pigmentation lasers to improve.
Back Acne Creams
Given the large surface area of the back, it is tedious and difficult to maintain the usual multi-step acne skincare regime.
Dr Edwin usually recommends using the exfoliating daily scrub to unclog pores when showering and to apply the acne toner on the entire back to kill acne bacteria and tighten pores. The watery texture of the toner makes it quick and easy to apply and cover the entire back.
Learn more about acne skincare here.
Back Acne Oral Antibiotics
Antibiotics such as Doxycycline are highly recommended for the treatment of back and body acne. Antibiotics work by killing bacteria, thereby reducing the number of new acne and helping current active acne recover more quickly.
Side effects are mild and include gastric related side effects such as nausea, bloating or diarrhea. Depending on the severity of back or body acne, Dr Edwin may prescribe at least 3 to 4 months of oral antibiotics.
Learn more about acne medications here.
Oral Isotretinoin (Roaccutane)
Recurring or stubborn back / body acne not responding to antibiotics or topical creams would be treated with Roaccutane.
Roaccutane is one of the most powerful medications for acne because it reduces excessive sebum production, unclogs pores by regulating skin turnover, reduces skin inflammation and impairs acne bacteria growth.
However, Roaccutane is associated with side effects and it would be best to discuss with a doctor before starting Roaccutane.
Learn more about Roaccutane here.
Back Acne Antibiotic + Cortisone Injections
For large, painful cystic acne on the back or body, an injection containing a combination of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory ingredients can accelerate relief and improve symptoms after 1 to 2 days.
Lear more about acne injections here.
Back acne post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the most common type of back acne scar.
They appear as brown or grey coloured flat scars. These dark scars may remain for months and are slow to heal and fade.
Dr Edwin will usually recommend a combination of topical lightening creams and pigmentation lasers to improve their appearance.
Learn more about Pigmentation Creams here.
Learn more about Pigmentation Lasers here.
Every clinic offers different back acne treatment options. No one clinic is same as the other. If you want to make sure that the acne treatments are performed safely and effectively, make sure that the clinic is experienced in treating back and body acne. The clinic should also offer information on the various types of acne treatment before proceeding.