8 Ways to Prevent and Treat Summer’s Dreaded Bacne
Fact: Bacne is the worst. But what exactly is it and how does one get it? According to Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, “Your back has numerous sebaceous glands that secrete sebum, and when sebum and dead skin cells accumulate in the hair follicles, it causes them to get clogged.” Uh, great.
If you’ve noticed your back seems oily lately or has blackheads, whiteheads, red spots, yellow pus-filled pimples, or scars, chances are you’re dealing with a back breakout. The good news is that we polled the top derms in the industry on how to clear it up. Heed their advice and be on your way to baring it all again (on your back, that is).
How to Treat Bacne
1. Use products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. “There are body washes with these ingredients and gentle exfoliating scrubs to remove extra dirt and oil from your skin,” explains Jaliman. Brit + Co Picks: PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash ($10), which contains benzoyl peroxide; Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash ($7), with salicylic acid
2. Always shower after exercise. Letting the sweat and dirt remain on your skin after working out can make back acne worse, so at least rinse off as soon as you can, post sweat sesh.
3. Avoid foods very high in fat and sugar. Didn’t think your diet can play a role in bacne? Think again. Certain foods, like those containing sugar, dairy, and spices (and even whey protein and peanut butter), can trigger acne.
4. Try tea tree oil. According to Jaliman, there is some evidence to suggest tea tree oil might help in treating acne by killing extra bacteria. Plus you get the bonus of the refreshing scent at the same time. Brit + Co Pick: The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash ($15)
5. Wipe away the sweat. “Increased heat, sweating, and bacteria (all of which are higher in the summertime) contribute to acne formation on the back, so avoid extreme temperatures on your skin by wearing breathable fabrics,” suggests NYC-based dermatologist Rachel Nazarian. This means you should stay away from polyblends or heavy clothing and backpacks that rub and cause a type of acne called “acne mechanica.” And, if you can’t get to a shower when you’re sweating, the next best thing is an on-the-go towelette that wipes away sweat and bacteria. Brit + Co Pick: Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel On-The-Go Towelettes ($6)
6. Commit to the cause. As Nazarian warns, you can’t expect your bacne to clear up right away. “Most acne medications take 4 to 6 weeks to reset skin and prevent breakouts,” she says. “So continuous committed use is necessary to treat current pimples and prevent new lesions from forming.”
7. See a derm for a prescription. “Back acne can be treated with over-the-counter agents, but if you are able to see a dermatologist, a prescription for Epiduo Forte Gel or oral doxycycline can be more helpful,” says Nazarian.
8. Turn to treatments. Dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Michele Green recommends chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and acne surgery (where the pustules are extracted using a sterile technique and instruments). If you have extensive scarring, eMatrix Laser and Fraxel are options. “These are both excellent treatments for bacne scarring, and the V-Beam laser also helps treat the redness of this type of acne as well as the marks,” she adds.
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