Plus expert tips on how to deal with it.

By Daley Quinn
December 30, 2019
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Sweating underneath layers of heavy clothing in the wintertime is bound to produce some unsightly pimples on your back. "Bacne," short for back acne, is a common skin concern that many folks face during the colder months—you can thank the trapped sweat between your skin and clothing for that.

The causes of back acne are the same culprits that produce facial acne: P. acnes bacteria and excess sebum production getting trapped under the skin. “Bacne impacts all skin types and is more commonly triggered by lifestyle than by skin type,” says Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D.,  FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology in Westport, CT. “For example, I see it in a lot of my patients who work out frequently.

While there are many medicated back acne treatments on the market, prevention is important. “Trapped sweat can further clog pores and breed more of the acne-causing bacteria,” Robinson says. “The Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder for Body ($6.97, Walmart) is a great formula with odor-neutralizing ingredients to absorb moisture and sweat—it can be sprayed and applied on the back.”

Credit: Alessandro De Carli/EyeEm/Getty Images

As for how to treat back acne? Exercise in breathable fabrics and keep skin clean and dry by showering or using a cleansing wipe as soon as you can after a workout. “Switch over to a medicated body wash, like the CLn SportWash ($33, Modern Dermatology of Connecticut), and to spot treat, use the KILLA Kit by ZitSticka ($29, Amazon),” Robinson says. “Also, just as you would with the face, be sure you're using an oil-free body lotion, like CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($10.69, Target).”

Robinson advises looking for ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, and sulfur when searching for products to treat back acne. Here are a few more tried-and-true products to help put an end to your bacne this winter. 

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

A true cult-fave when it comes to acne body washes, this pick is cream-based rather than liquid and helps hydrate while killing bacteria.

Buy It: $10, Amazon

Credit: Courtesy of Walmart

Pads are a quick and easy way to treat back acne right after you pop out of the shower or finish a sweaty workout. Just swipe and toss. 

Buy It: $8.27, Walmart

Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

I love using this high-tech cleansing tool on my back whenever it starts to break out. All you need to do is pump the cleanser onto the brush, turn it on, and glide it around your upper back and chest.

Buy It: $99, Ulta

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

One of my favorite skincare brands, Paula’s Choice nailed it with this body spray, specifically for acne. The beta-hydroxy acid and salicylic acid help exfoliate the skin, while hyaluronic acid helps retain moisture (the good kind!). 

Buy It: $25, Amazon

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

For really stubborn bacne, try applying a time-released 5% benzoyl peroxide gel. This pick helps to fight acne throughout the day while diminishing dryness and irritation.

Buy It: $32, Amazon

Credit: Courtesy of Target

If you’ve just finished a tough workout and don’t have time to hop in the shower, reach for these cleansing body wipes. They’ll help fend off body acne until you can get to a shower later on.

Buy It: $15, Target

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

What was once a prescription-only product is now available over the counter—this gel treats acne, inflammation, and clogged pores using topical retinoid.

Buy It: $12.88, Amazon

Credit: Courtesy of Walmart

Scrub away sweat and dead skin with this pick from Neutrogena—the 2% salicylic acid will treat and prevent future bacne breakouts. 

Buy It: $5.58, Walmart

Credit: Courtesy of Dermstore

Featuring a combination of beta-lypohydroxy acids (think glycolic and salicylic acid), will supercharge skin renewal and regeneration, helping to prevent and treat bacne while refining skin texture and evening skin tone, too. 

Buy It: $41, Dermstore


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