Get Rid of Back Acne: 7 Tips from Derms

Bring on the tank tops and open-back dresses.

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Gym gear is getting more fun, colorful, and—yes—strappy with every passing month. But those cut-out backs and breezy tanks are a bummer if you’re hiding another bacne flare-up.

Bacne, or formally known as back acne, occurs for the same reasons as the acne bumps on your jawline and T-zone. It’s your immune system’s reaction to oil and bacteria in the pores of the skin. But acne on the back and shoulders tends to be bigger, deeper, and redder than the standard whitehead or blackhead on your nose (though this varies by person). Here’s more info on what causes acne.

As long as your back acne isn’t seriously deep and painful, like a cyst, you can treat these bumps at home. Here are the solutions derms recommend to prevent and treat bacne.

  1. Practice good gym hygiene. Cute athleisure clothes could be the culprit if you tend to wear them for a couple hours after gym class before you hit the shower. Shower as soon as possible after a sweat session to keep your pores clear. And don’t fish “fresh” gym clothes from your hamper. Wear clean workout clothes each time you hit the gym, or else the sweat on your shirt from Tuesday’s class is going to have a personal invite to your back pores. Even better, choose sweat-wicking fabrics to keep as much of the bacteria and oil from your skin as possible. Get even more tips for preventing acne after workouts here.

  2. Keep clothes and bedding clean. In addition to wearing clean clothes, wash or change your bedsheets regularly. FYI, experts recommend once per week. (Here are all the reasons you should wash your bedsheets on the reg.)

  3. Skip the loofah and washcloths. Sure, they help suds up your soap, but the harsh material can irritate the skin and may make acne (on your face or back) worse, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Instead, gently massage your soap or cleanser with your hands.

  4. Use oil-free, fragrance-free products. Oils, chemicals, dyes, and fragrances can irritate skin and trigger bouts of acne or bacne. This includes your makeup, soap, and even hair products. (Learn more about toxins to avoid in beauty products here.)

  5. Shampoo long hair daily or tie up away from your back. You can shampoo less frequently if you have thick or textured hair; the idea is to not let it get too greasy. Oil on your hair can easily become oil in your pores.

  6. Keep bag and purse straps off your back. Ditto for backpacks. Anything that rubs against your back can irritate your skin, causing back acne to flare, says the American Academy of Dermatology. When it comes to preventing bacne breakouts, you’re better off using handheld bags.

  7. Wear sunscreen. Some people believe UV rays help clear up acne, but that’s a dangerous myth. Not only is it not scientifically proven, but clearing up acne is not worth the dangers of sun damage to your skin. (Here are more myths about sunscreen to ignore.) Always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and find an oil-free product to keep your pores happy.