Why Face Acne and Back Acne Should Be Treated Differently

23 February 2017

Why Face Acne and Back Acne Should Be Treated Differently

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. In fact, 8 out of 10 people experience it at some point in their lives. While many develop it on their face, over half will go on to develop back acne (also known as ‘bacne’).

Speaking with SELF magazine, a team of dermatologists and skin gurus agree there are a number of ways you can reduce the effects of acne, and maybe even stop it completely.

What is acne?

Acne is a result of increased oil production in the sebaceous glands. Because oil on the skin collects dead skin cells, pores are more likely to get blocked and bacteria is free to breed. The most common forms of acne are redness, whiteheads, blackheads, and infection.

What’s the difference between face and back acne?

Although acne and “bacne” are both caused by blocked pores, Eric Meinhardt, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, says the two conditions have to be treated differently.

The skin on the face is much thinner and has a greater blood supply than the back. This means that, although sufferers are more likely to experience redness, their acne heals quicker as there are fewer layers of skin to penetrate. Sufferers should try to use mild, sensitive products to avoid stimulating too much blood flow.

The back, on the other hand, is prone to getting raised, overgrown scars, known as keloids. High strength solutions and scar treatments treat keloids most effectively.

What are the main causes?

Often, acne occurs when products are overused. These are usually oil-based products, such as make-up, creams and balms, which clog pores over a long period of time.

Face acne also arises from:

  • Picking or squeezing spots.
  • Using harsh scrubs.
  • High levels of stress.
  • During a menstrual cycle.

When it comes to back acne, the most common cause is clothing: tight clothing traps natural oils in the skin and suffocates pores. Breathable fabric and loose-fitting clothes are best for combating back acne.

Another, less obvious, reason for developing back acne is from the use of hair conditioner. While washing your hair, conditioner can clog pores as it rolls down your back. Debbie Palmer, D.O. says you should “rinse conditioner off to the side” before doing a full body wash to rid yourself of ”oily residue”.

If you’re concerned about your acne, and need extra skincare tips, our consultant dermatologists can help.

What’s the best way to treat acne?

While acne treatments are effective, Heidi Waldorf, M.D. and director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, recommends using salicylic-based products for regular skin maintenance.

Salicylic acid naturally attracts the oil in the sebaceous glands, which then helps clear clogged pores. Benzoyl peroxide is useful for combatting mild to severe cases of acne, although Meinhardt advises steering clear of anything above 5 per cent, as they “can cause more side effects”.

Antioxidant-rich formulas are also good for bacne scarring, particularly those containing retinol. Retinol helps loosen dead skin cells, and promotes regular cell turnover. With fewer dead skin cells, pores are less likely to be blocked and bacteria is kept at bay.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you think others might benefit from? We’d love to hear from you over on Facebook and Twitter.