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The first thing to know about how to get rid of back acne is that it’s not like the pimples you get on your face. Yes, it’s similar in that the pores clog and bacteria is often to blame, and also you get incredibly confused and angry and emotional about it (especially if you’re on steroids). But it’s different in that it comes with its own rulebook for treating and preventing it.
Luckily bacne is very treatable and very preventable. And I didn’t know all the ways to keep it at bay until I sourced a bunch of board-certified dermatologists for the answers. We got the advice they often give their own patients in regards to back acne, and now they’ve got your back, too: Here’s how to get rid of back acne.
Swap Out Your Shower Products
Start with a benzoyl peroxide (5-10%) body wash:
Nearly all of the dermatologists cited benzoyl peroxide body wash as their top suggestion for clearing bacne, since it aggressively kills the bacteria that cause you to break out back there. But be warned: It can stain your towels and clothing, so rinse thoroughly when done, and maybe wear a white t-shirt to bed afterwards.
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Replenix benzoyl peroxide 10% body wash with aloe vera
As an alternative, use zinc-packed dandruff shampoos:
“I find that often ‘back acne’ is actually pityrosporum folliculitis, an overgrowth of a yeast normally found on our skin. Using antifungal shampoos and body washes, daily for 10 days, then weekly for maintenance, is helpful,” says Dr. Debbie Elder.
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Dove+Men Care anti-dandruff shampoo with pyrithione zinc
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Nizoral zinc anti-dandruff shampoo
Reach back there with a brush:
“Use a long handled cleansing sponge with your acne-fighting body wash, or even a body brush. These clean the back thoroughly in the shower,” says Dr. Nancy Samolitis.
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Metene double-sided back brush
Do a back mask:
You can also leave your 10% benzoyl peroxide cleanser on like a mask for 5-10 minutes. I’d never do that on the face but the back can take it, and leaving it on longer helps,” says Dr. Papri Sarkar.
In a pinch, try a peel:
“If it’s really bad and a person has big event coming up, I recommend a chemical peel. If there’s no time for an in-office one, I recommend doing an over the counter one or using peel pads,” says Dr. Papri Sarkar.
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Dr. Dennis Gross salicylic acid peel pads (45 count)
Change Your Diet
Eat more anti-inflammatories: “Increasing foods that fight inflammation, such as green leafy veggies, fish, and tomatoes can be a great addition to your acne regimen,” says Dr. Mariana Atanasovski.
Omega 3s, good. Sugar, bad:
“Low glycemic index choices (meaning low in simple carbohydrates) have good results. So does increasing omega 3s which we can find in salmon, avocado, and walnuts,” says Dr. Sara Greer.
Mind Your Hygiene
Wash your towels and clothes frequently:
“It is important to wash your towels frequently or switch to an antimicrobial fabric so that bacteria doesn’t sit and then keep getting transferred back to the skin,” says Dr. Kavita Mariwalla. Ditto for your clothes, especially anything you’ve sweat in: It becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
Never soak in your own sweat:
“I also remind athletes that getting in the shower and rinsing off soon after a workout can help minimize the effects of irritation from the sweat and occlusion of wet clothing,” says Dr. Hilary C. Reich.
If you can’t shower, wipe yourself off:
Sometimes you’re in a hurry, or prefer to delay the shower til home If so use a wipe, says Dr. Caroline Chang. This will keep pores clear and eliminate some of the urgency to shower (though you should still do so soon).
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Anthony shower sheets (12 count)
Alter Your Workout Habits
Sweat wicking fabrics, always:
“Use wicking fabrics when you work out, since they provide maximum cooling and a dry fit. Yes, cotton is breathable, but it holds the moisture next to your skin creating a wonderfully hospitable environment,” says Dr. Brooke Jackson.
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Lululemon men’s mesh workout shirt