A Dermatologist’s Guide to Treating Back Acne

Dr. Palep treating acne on a new york city patient for the back acne article

When you think of acne, the face and neck usually come to mind, but acne can affect other areas, including the back. Sometimes referred to as “backne,” back acne is a real and pesky problem that impacts many teens and adults. Even though backne is not visible to most people, it can be a painful skin condition that lowers self-esteem. Back acne can also travel into more visible areas like the shoulders and neck.

What Causes Back Acne?

Back acne is caused by sweat, oil, or dead skin cells that get trapped in skin pores. The bacteria in the pores create backne breakouts and can be exacerbated by a variety of factors. Some common irritants that cause back acne include:

  • Friction from clothes, equipment, or backpacks
  • Hormones from pregnancy or adolescent development
  • Some medications
  • Skin care products with specific ingredients
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Menopause or childbirth
  • Unhealthy diet or lifestyle
  • Poor hygiene like limited showers and dirty towels or sheets

While on a different part of the body than facial acne, back acne forms the same way and has many of the same irritants. Back acne is a common skin condition that can be treated like acne on the face. It typically impacts teens and young adults but can appear on any individual. Back acne can develop in different forms, including


  • Pimples
  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Pustules
  • Cysts 

Is Back Acne Genetic?

There is not an acne gene that can be passed down that gives individuals acne. However, acne can be influenced by family history and hereditary factors, and genetics can play a role in how prone you are to the condition. If you have a family history of acne, you are more likely to develop acne at some point in your life.

How to Prevent Back Acne

There are many ways to prevent back acne or the formation of new acne. Small changes can make a big difference in containing breakouts, including:


  • Wear loose-fitting clothing or sweat-wicking materials
  • Shower after activities and change clothes
  • Wash clothes after each use
  • Use a gentle cleanser
  • Avoid skin care products with irritants like astringents and abrasive scrubs
  • Avoid carrying items on your back by using a handheld or side bag
  • Do not pick or pop acne
  • Wear a sun shirt or sun lotion while in direct sun
spring st dermatology in nyc treating back acne on patient

How to Treat Back Acne

Back acne often improves with preventative measures and at-home remedies like over-the-counter acne treatments. When acne worsens or becomes painful, patients can receive personalized treatments from a board-certified dermatologist. There are many treatment options for back acne, including:

  • Topical antibiotics: Patients with mild acne can apply an ointment directly to the skin to reduce the bacteria spread. Topicals can also include anti-inflammatory agents, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide.
  • Cortisone injections: This treatment option rapidly shrinks cystic lesions and reduces pain or discomfort with large inflamed bumps.
  • Acne surgery: Some patients can benefit from an extraction procedure that removes whiteheads and blackheads from the back.
  • Hormone therapy: For women with hormone imbalances, hormone treatments can reduce backne.
  • Oral treatments: Oral antibiotics can be prescribed to treat moderate to severe backne. In some cases, isotretinoin can be used to get rid of acne with a low chance of the condition returning.

These treatments can be effective for many patients with back acne. There are alternative solutions for patients who wish to avoid oral or topical treatment methods. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a two-part treatment that uses light energy and a photosensitizer to eliminate acne with light activation. This light-based therapy can treat many skin conditions and diseases, including back acne. A photosensitizer is applied to the skin to make it more sensitive to light, and then blue light is used to kill bacteria and clear back acne without potential scarring.

Laser Genesis is another effective treatment option that heats the skin to break up dirt, oil, and bacteria that cause acne. The laser also spurs collagen production to refresh and rejuvenate the skin. Both the PDT and Laser Genesis are non-surgical procedures that can be performed multiple times to create desired results.

AviClear is the first and only device FDA-approved to reduce mild to severe acne breakouts without topical ointments or oral medications. A breakthrough device, AviClear targets acne at the source by selectively treating specific sebaceous glands.

Schedule a Consultation with a NYC Dermatologist to Get Rid of Back Acne Once and For All


Back acne can be a challenging and painful skin condition that requires expert treatment from experienced dermatologists. Spring Street Dermatology is focused on developing and maintaining doctor-patient relationships that support comprehensive treatments and healthy, beautiful skin. Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped to serve patients in Soho, NYC and Uptown NYC as a premier dermatology practice.

Our board-certified dermatologists diagnose and treat skin conditions with personalized plans that account for specific concerns, skin tone, and treatment preferences. Contact us to schedule a consultation for back acne and learn more about our acne treatment options.


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75 Spring Street, Floor 2 New York, NY 10012

75 Spring Street, Floor 2
New York, NY 10012

Monday – Friday: 9am – 8pm

4 West 58th street, 13th Floor New York, NY 10019

4 West 58th street, 13th Floor

New York, NY 10019

Sun & Sat: 10am-3pm

Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm

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