Do You Have Acne Breakouts On Your Back?

Updated 12/12/14. Do you get breakouts on your back? It’s often referred to as “bacne” and can be challenging to deal with but here’s my expert advice to help get your back clear.

When I was in High School, I suffered from terrible back acne. I did get breakouts on my face and hairline, but most of it appeared on my back. It was primarily cystic acne—those hard, sore underground bumps on the skin that take weeks to go away. I visited a dermatologist who gave me oral antibiotics and topical creams to use on my back. Although the combination did help lessen the acne breakouts, I was left with dry, itchy skin and clothing that got bleached out. (Many topical acne creams contain benzoyl peroxide which will lighten clothing if contact is made.)

Shortly after High School, I entered beauty school and our teacher talked about an ingredient in hair products that can cause acne blemishes on the back and around the hairline—panthenol. Come to find out, I was using a hair care line loaded with this ingredient, since it is a popular ingredient for strengthening the hair. So I immediately switched to a panthenol-free hair care line and never got breakouts again. I was cured and able to go off of prescription medication! …

If I slept over at a friend’s house and forgot to bring my panthenol-free products and had to use something with panthenol, I would literally get acne blemishes the very next day. I was that sensitive to it.

Years later, I am now able to use hair care products containing panthenol and have no problems at all. I guess my body has changed.

I am a huge believer that sometimes certain foods you eat and certain lifestyle habits can affect the way your skin responds. Most people don’t want to be on prescription medication if they don’t have to. And for me, it was a simple change in my hair care products that cured my acne.

Note: Panthenol makes for a great ingredient in skin care products and will not cause breakouts because of the low percentage used. It’s the extremely high percentages used in hair care products that can cause breakouts for some–but not all.

What else can I do to clear up my bacne?

Since back breakouts can be made worse when the skin has an abundance of dead skin cells on the surface, it is beneficial to gently remove the cellular buildup by exfoliating the back every time you shower. Apply an antibacterial cleanser directly to an Exfoliating Body Cloth and rub the cloth over the back for two minutes concentrating on problem areas. By using this cloth (a natural loofah will work, too) along with a well-formulated cleanser with acne-clearing ingredients like AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel, it allows the cleanser to work much better and deeper within the skin to give significant improvement. Within two weeks, you should notice the skin looking clearer and acne scars will be fading.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or Facetime.

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Content found on, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.