Your face isn’t the only place where acne can appear. It can affect any body part that has oil-secreting glands or hair follicles, including your back, chest, and shoulders. Back acne can affect your mood and make you feel embarrassed.
Your back, like your face, has numerous sebaceous glands that secrete sebum, an oily substance. Sebum, along with dead skin cells and bacteria, can build up in the hair follicles on your back and clog them. A clogged follicle eventually breaks down and forms an acne lesion.
Types of Back Acne
The types of acne lesions that can occur on your back include:
- Whiteheads also referred to as closed comedones, develop when a plugged follicle stays closed and underneath your skin, forming a white bump.
- Blackheads. When a plugged follicle is located on the surface of your skin and is open, it forms a blackhead, also referred to as an open comedone. The black-tip appearance of blackheads is due to a reaction between sebum and the air, not because dirt has filled your follicle.
- Papules. Acne lesions that appear as small pink bumps on your skin and are sometimes tender are called papules.
- Pustules. Also called a pimple, a pustule is a white or yellow pus-filled papule with a reddened base.
- Nodules. When an acne lesion develops deep below the surface of your skin, it can harden and form a large, painful nodule.
- Cysts. Cysts are larger, pus-filled acne lesions that are very painful and can scar the skin.
When you have back acne, it’s especially important to properly care for your skin. This includes regularly washing your skin with a gentle cleanser, taking a shower after you exercise, keeping your hair clean (make sure you thoroughly rinse off any hair conditioner in the shower), not squeezing or picking back acne lesions, and avoiding excessive sun exposure.