How is Back Acne Different From Facial Acne?

Video Transcript:

Here’s another daily tip from your friendly local dermatologist.

Okay back acne, what is it? Why do you get it? And do we treat it different than other areas? So back acne is basically the same process of acne that happens on your face on your back. But it tends to be bigger. So the bumps tend to be bigger. The pustules which are white filled bumps filled with pus tend to be bigger. The cysts tend to be bigger. And it’s just kind of harder to treat.

Now all the same things that cause face acne cause back acne. So you can watch our other videos on acne to get a better description on that. Back acne is a little harder to treat though. Because if you feel the skin of your face, it’s a lot thinner than the skin on your back, which means that a lot of the topicals that we can use on the face, because it’s thinner skin, they can actually penetrate and get to the spot that needs to be treated. But on the back, it’s much thicker skin, so it’s harder for the topical medications to penetrate all the way down to get to the area that needs to be treated. Kind of makes sense.

Unfortunately, it makes back acne pretty hard to treat sometimes. A lot of times I recommend people with back acne, obviously looking at their diet, looking at their exercise routine, looking at what they’re bathing with, all of those things, but I also recommend them washing their back with some different stuff. One is a good benzoyl peroxide acne wash. And all they do is put it on their back and let it sit for about a minute in the shower, rinse it off completely, and then pat dry with the white towel. If you don’t rinse it off completely, it’ll bleach your towels and your clothes. So please do that.

So you do that benzoyl peroxide acne wash, it’s over-the-counter, and then you, on the other day, so benzoyl peroxide another day, benzoyl peroxide another day, so on the other days what you’re doing is, I want you to try to get a glycolic acid wash. That’s 8%. That 8% glycolic wash you put on just like the benzoyl peroxide.

So you put it on, you don’t have to rub and scrub it, and just put it on, let it sit for a minute, rinse it off completely and pat dry. You use the benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and you just keep repeating those. Often times with that regimen we can significantly reduce how much back acne you get. And if that still doesn’t work, then we might have to try some oral medications like antibiotics to help us out from the inside out. But my preference, how I prefer to practice medicine, is to try the safer topical medicine approach, before I go to the internal systemic medicine approach. It’s just simply safer.

Dr. Reagan Anderson is a local dermatologist from Colorado Springs.