in: Health, Health & Fitness

• Last updated: May 29, 2021

Battling Bacne

Wrestler's shirtless back view.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Dil Uppal. 

Bacne. It’s an unpleasant word to write and to read and yet unfortunately we must as this is one of the most common forms of acne you’ll find on a man. Thanks to the over-active sebaceous glands on our backs coupled with hair and several other factors, men are very susceptible to this difficult form of acne.

Bacne can leave a man embarrassed about removing his shirt in front of a lady or at the swimming pool . But thankfully it’s easily treated in a way that requires minimal back-bending and grunting. The first thing you’ll need to do is ascertain what’s causing it; then you can begin treatment.

Causes of Bacne

  • Shampoo, soap and body wash. Many soaps and shampoos contain ingredients with the potential to clog pores and create spots on your back. Eliminate anything fancy or scented and stick to plain washes for sensitive skin such as Sanex. An even better option is to use a soap especially made for treating bacne like Phisoderm Anti-Blemish Body Wash or Neutrogena’s Body Clear Body Wash.
  • Hair products.  If you wear hair products and live in warmer climes, your gel/wax/spray can melt during the day and slowly trickle down your back and into your pores. This will  cause breakouts of spots all over your upper back. Try minimizing the amount of product you use in your hair and see if it makes a difference. At night, be sure to thoroughly wash your hair clean of any product. Washing twice should do the trick.
  • Hygiene. Possibly a no-brainer to some but you’d be surprised how often men overlook the rules of basic hygiene and yet still wonder why they’re breaking out. Shower daily and/or after working out, wear a clean shirt every day, and make sure any towel you use on your body is clean and bone dry; the same goes for your bed sheets.
  • Exercise.  If you’re a man that likes to work out, bear in mind that tight fitting clothes will only exacerbate the thousands of sebaceous glands on your back with excessive warmth and sweat. Remedy this by wearing a clean cotton shirt when exercising and remember to shower immediately afterwards! A lot of guys sit around in their sweaty shirt for hours after a work out, and this breeds bacteria and break-outs on their back.
  • Internal factors. If you’ve eliminated any offending soaps, shampoos or dirty towels and your problem is still persistent, you have bacne caused by either hormones or pores clogged by the accumulation of dead skin cells. There are 2 ways to treat this, best used in conjunction.

Bacne Treatments

1. AHAs (or Alpha Hydroxy Acids) work by getting rid of the uppermost layer of skin from your body – exfoliation, in short. Try using a body wash containing AHAs like the AHA Botanical Body Soap from Mario Badescu to keep your back smooth and clear of any potentially-clogging dead skin cells. Don’t use a physical scrub with beads or a loofah as this will most likely irritate the acne and spread the bacteria across your back.

2. BHAs (or Beta Hydroxy Acids) work by cleaning out the gunk from inside your pores and are the most effective treatment against acne of any variety. If you can reach, try swiping Stridex pads across the areas of acne – the ones in the red box are the strongest. If not, you can use my personal favourite – Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid and transfer it to a spray bottle that you can then spray onto your back. If you’re lazy, Clinique and Murad both carry pre-made anti-acne body sprays (the Murad one also contains Retinol, making it a very potent treatment). Apply these to dry skin post-shower and use enough to cover the area lightly. Wait for the liquid to dry before dressing.

Follow those steps and soon enough your back will be ready and primed for any sunbathing or muscle flexing that comes your way!

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