Help! I Have Back Acne, How Do I Get Rid of It?

Got Back or Butt Acne? Here's How to Get Rid of It For Good

Prevent back acne with this 3-step treatment plan.
Back and butt acne can be treated with over the counter medications. Ross M. Horowitz/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Back or butt acne, otherwise known as "bacne," is treatable with a mix of a few medications you can get over the counter. Find out what causes bacne, plus how to treat it with this three-step program. 

What Causes Bacne?

Bacne tends to form on the back, upper arms and the buttocks and can take several forms: pimples, blackheads, pustules and cysts, which are painful and form deep under the skin's surface.

Acne tends to start with blackheads, which are the result of oil and dead cells getting trapped in a pore where they block the duct and mix with bacteria. They turn black when exposed to air. Red pimples develop when blackheads become inflamed. If the pimple becomes infected, it develops a whitehead or pustule. 

Back acne tends to occur around puberty when the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, start functioning. When too much sebum is produced, pores and hair follicles can become clogged, attracting bacteria. This can lead to acne.

Back and butt acne can affect adults as well, due to trapped sebum. This can happen from sweating, wearing tight clothing and not exfoliating your back and bottom properly.

How to Treat Back & Butt Acne

You should treat back and butt acne as you would acne on the face. Because skin is thicker on the backs of arms, one's back and one's bottom, you may opt to choose stronger formulas than you would to treat acne on the face.

For milder versions of back or body acne, a topical 10 percent benzoyl peroxide cream or gel may suffice (for your face, 10 percent is too harsh, opt for two percent). Simply dab the cream on the pimples at night and let it dry before you put on clothing. 

To treat mild back acne, try this three-step program:

Step 1 Wash the back with an anti-bacterial cleanser formulated for the face, such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (buy it from Amazon). Stay away from regular soap. Let skin dry.

Step 2 Follow with a 10 percent benzoyl peroxide gel or cream. These are available over-the-counter or via prescription. A popular option that gets rave customer reviews is Topix Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Wash, buy it from Let dry.

Step 3 (optional) Some experts suggest using the benzoyl peroxide in tandem with a product containing a alpha hydroxy acid such as the very popular Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion (buy it at is optimal. Check out other options from

For severe back acne, consult a dermatologist for prescription treatment. Cysts can be treated in the office.

How to Prevent Back Acne

New York City dermatologist Patricia Wexler recommends showering immediately after working out or sweating heavily. Once in the shower, exfoliation is a great way to get rid of dead skin cells that tend to build up on the back, buttocks and back of the arms. There are several exfoliation options:

  1. An electronic scrubber like the dermatologist-recommended Clarisonic Mia not only exfoliates, but paired with a anti-bacterial cleanser, will kill the bacteria that causes acne on the back and the butt. Buy a Clarisonic Mia from
  1. Use a sugar scrub (milder than salt scrubs) in the shower on a weekly basis. Make your own using recipes or buy them from a list of the best body scrubs.
  2. Use a back scrubber with natural bristles like this popular one from Just make sure to keep any wooden scrubbers out of the immediate shower area because they can collect mold.
  3. Exfoliating gloves and towels are wonderful for scrubbing away dead skin that can cause pimples. Good bets are Earth Therapeutic exfoliating gloves (buy them from and exfoliating towel (buy it from Amazon). The towel is perfect for those hard-to-reach places and you can throw them in the washing machine along with your gloves.