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Everything you wanted to know about bacne and how to treat it

Acne isn't just a facial issue, it can rear its head on your back too. So, we asked our EV experts what you should do to send bacne packing

Just as blackheads, whiteheads and painful cystic acne can appear on the face, they can also appear on our backs.

What is bacne?

Often developing because of the same, if not similar reasons, “bacne is caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells and oil (known as sebum) within the pores, combined with common skin bacteria. When they come together, it causes inflammation and blemishes similar to facial acne,” explains Sean White, EV Expert and Director and Clinical Specialist at Sean White Aesthetics.

Why does it develop?

Your skin type and gender can also be a factor when it comes to whether you’re bacne prone or not. Typically, bacne is likely to appear on the upper back and shoulders, as these areas contain more oil glands compared to the lower back. And because “higher testosterone levels mean oilier skin, men are more likely to experience bacne than women, as they naturally have higher levels of testosterone,” says White.

It’s not just oilier skin on our backs that makes bacne more likely, it’s also the thickness of the skin in this area too. “Thicker skin tends to have larger pores and these larger pores are more susceptible to being compacted with sebum and debris, which ultimately leads to acne and blackheads,” adds EV Expert and Aesthetic Skin Specialist, Balsam Alabassi.

But this doesn’t mean that women are immune. In fact, hormonal fluctuations just before your period starts can trigger increased oil production in the sebaceous glands – including those on your back. Meanwhile, women suffering from conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are also prone to bacne as they tend to have higher levels of testosterone.

What other factors cause bacne?

Hormonal and textural issues aside, there’s a variety of reasons that you might develop bacne according to our experts.

It can become worse during the summer as you sweat more, but “the rise in temperature during summer months also prompts your body to increase sebum production, and if this excess oil is not addressed, you’ll get acne,” confirms Alabassi.

That’s not all. Genetics, medication, exercising, clothing, and pore-blocking hair products dripping down your back post-shower can all cause your back to become more prone to breakouts.

How to treat bacne

Firstly, remember to treat the skin on your back as you would your face and don’t be tempted to be more aggressive just because the acne is on your body. Implementing a thorough cleansing, exfoliating and hydrating routine for your back is vital, just as you should with the skin on your face.

In terms of products to choose, White recommends antibacterial washes containing benzoyl peroxide or tea tree oil to reduce the number of inflammation-causing germs on the surface of your skin. You can even use the ZO Skin Health Complexion Clearing Program and the exfoliating ZO Skin Health Oil Control Pads, on your back as well as your face.

Exfoliating is important say our Experts, and salicylic acid is recommended. Alabassi explains: “Salicylic acid, a BHA, breaks down the bonds between dead skin cells so it’s easier to remove them from the pores. It also breaks down oily sebum, too.”

But she warns: “To maintain a healthy skin equilibrium, only exfoliate once every 7-10 days.”

You should also wear clothes made from breathable materials like cotton, silk, merino wool, linen and even polyester. Try to shower immediately after workouts to remove sweat and dirt and stop them from clogging pores, and be sure to change bedding and towels regularly too.

Try these in-clinic treatments 

While a good and consistent at-home routine is vital, teaming it with in-clinic treatments can speed up results.

“In clinic, treatments such as chemical peels offer a great option for addressing acne,” says Alabassi, who recommends her VI Peel. “It uses trichloroacetic acid (TCA) to exfoliate skin and vitamin A to stimulate collagen production,” she says.

“Great results can also be achieved with a course of BioRePeel CL3.” This peel also uses a high dose of TCA, but it’s also packed with essential amino acids and vitamins to shrink pores, improve skin texture and smooth out acne scarred skin.

Blue light therapy is also another excellent option. “The wavelength of blue light has an antimicrobial effect, killing acne-causing bacteria, Cutibacterium Acnes, as well as other spot-causing bacteria strains,” explains Alabassi. Blue light also reduces the activity in the sebaceous glands – minimising oil production that would otherwise block pores.

Meanwhile, Sean White Aesthetics offers a specialist HydraFacial back treatment that is designed specifically to target and treat bacne, just as you would treat acne on the face.

“The bacne HydraFacial treatment is a hydra dermabrasion treatment combining cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration and antioxidant protection,” says White. “This removes dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria from the skin.” The result? A clear, radiant-looking back with no discomfort or downtime.

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