Can pimples develop on your back? Like face and any other place, Pimples on back can be annoying. Back pimples are very rare but severe form of pimples acne formation. The sebaceous gland in the back is bigger and produces more sebum which forms back acne. Tattoo, steroids, sun tanning and sweating increases the vulnerability to bumps on back, neck, shoulders and buttocks.
Who gets pimples on back? Your back, like your face has numerous sebaceous glands that secrete sebum, a naturally oily substance. Generally, 92% of people get facial acne, 60 % have pimples on back and chest.
What is the Meaning of Pimples on Back?
Back and body pimples influences both males and females, teenagers and grown-ups. According to India Times, “men are more prone to back acne than women”. Dermatologist Dr Trasi, says that women get more pimples on the face and men get more pimples on the back. Pimples do not just show up on the back. For some skin pimples, a breakout can be more far reaching. Back Acne is normal among skin inflammation patients.
What Causes Pimples on Back?
Back Acne or Bacne tends to form on buttocks, upper arms and the back and may take several forms like blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and cysts. They can be formed deep under the skin surface and are itchy and painful. The following are the causes of back pimples;
1. Hormones, Periods and Pregnancy
Hormones play a large role during your period and pregnancy which may lead to pimple formation. According to Dermatologist, Eric Meinhardt, if you notice pimples acne break out in the similar places as other members, it could be acnes genetic components at work.
- Androgens rises in boys and girls during puberty stimulating sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum, clogging of pores and pimples breakout
- Pregnancy-related hormonal imbalances and use of oral contraceptives also increases sebum production triggering pimple formation
- Low androgens levels circulating in your blood, may be the cause of pimples on the back of the neck, especially in women.
Pityriasis Capitis generally known as dandruff causes pimples on the back. How does dandruff cause pimple acne? Dandruff is usually characterised by excessive flaking and abnormal shedding of the skin. The abundance of dead skin cells and sebum get caught inside the hair follicles or skin pore and make blockage. This blockage may turn into pimples on the back if microbes attack.
Cancer currently raises a lot of concern. Are pimples a sign of cancer? According to Daily Mail, “warning signs of Nodular melanomas look like lumps that are new firm, red, dome-shaped and grow progressively for more than a month”. How are pimples and cancer-related? The study Authors in the journal Cancer lament that there is evidence that people who are prone to getting acne- pimples may be more susceptible to developing certain cancers.
Can Pimples Be Cancerous? Prof Kelly says that patient and doctors should take an urgent action if there is a ball-like pimple on the skin that grows bigger over a couple of months. The pimples may be growing under or on the skin. According to skin cancer foundation, Actinic keratosis a precancerous lesion can turn into cancerous especially to those who spend a lot of time in sunlight. Dr Virginia consultant dermatologist at London Bridge hospital says, “people with fair skin, who burn easily and those with a lot of moles should take particular care since they are more likely to develop a skin cancer”.
Stress isn’t a direct cause of acne, but it is one of most contributing factors. According to the study conducted on college students at Stanford University, it found that they had pimples flare-up during exams. This period they reported more stress compared to periods without exams. The researchers concluded that pimples acne severity is highly correlated to stress.
Pimples breakout is one of many side effects of steroid users. Acne pimples of steroid users are commonly found on face, shoulders and back. They are no different from natural occurring acne. Working out causes body to sweat more, and once it comes in contact with increased levels of skin oil, it leads to pimple formation.
Steroids increase androgen levels in the body, causing bumps formation. This acne may be very severe and itchy in cases of steroids users. Consult your doctor in case of steroids pimples. Since they may not be treatable until after the steroid cycle is finished.
They are two forms of steroid acne
- Malassezia folliculitis which occurs due to the proliferation of Malassezia yeasts (pityrosporum). They are usually characterised by itchy superficial papules and pustules on back and chest. They are mostly of the same size, unlike acne vulgaris.
- Acne vulgaris which affect any prone site characterised by uniform in appearance acne.
Tattoo pimples are small like bumps that form when your skin surface become clogged up. How are tattoo pimples different with regular pimples? Basically, tattoo pimples are just like regular pimples. The only difference is that; they can appear anywhere in the body even in areas where normal pimples do not occur. The outbreak happens for different reasons;
- Over application of an ointment. The healing tattoo needs breathing and if slathered with ointment, you will be smothering it.
- Bacteria buildup in the top layer of the skin on the healing tattoo causes zits pimple formation.
- Wrapping the tattoo with dirty linen or leaving wrap up for long, heat and bacterial build-up creating a conducive environment for infection. This results in redness, swelling and finally, pimples are formed.
When should you worry? Pimples combined with excessive swelling, pus oozing or turning into open sores, high fever, and getting red lines from the tattoo signify a serious infection. This seeks medical attention, therefore, seek doctor’s advice immediately.
7. Age caused pimples
Everyone from different race and age gets acne. It is estimated that 80% of all people between 11 to 30 years have pimples acne outbreak at some point. Therefore, pimples can be attributed mostly to teenagers and young adults, although people in 40’s and 50’s can still get acne. This is because age increases chances of getting pimples outbreak.
Major hormonal changes in women, especially those above 30 years are the attributing factor of pimple acne formation. Menopause can also be the main cause of pimples in women in late forties and fifties.
8. Bra Line and unbreathable clothing
Bra straps that are tight may rub against the skin, irritate the skin or make the existing pimples redder or even cause more pimples on back. Other causes include;
- Unclean bra and clothes may also cause back acne
- Clothes made from unbreathable materials may also cause back acne formation.
- Clothes made of synthetic fibres irritates your back.
- If you have sensitive skin the laundry detergents may irritate your skin. Also, the use of scented detergent may cause pimples on the back
- Ensure your bed sheets are washed regularly. Dead skin cells and dust collect quickly on the sheets thus eliminating acne bacteria. To be free from these bacteria, wash your blankets, comforters and other bedclothes regularly.
9. Sun Exposure
Sun tanning is a healthy procedure of getting vitamin D, yet so damaging especially if you are exposing your back. Greasy sunscreen may also accelerate pimple formation due to clogged pores. Thus, it is more advisable to cover your back whenever you are out for sun tanning. According to Healthline, choose products that are oil free and light on the skin.
10. Bug Bites
Do bed bug bites resemble pimples? Certainly yes, According BedBugBites.Net, they can often be mistaken for acne. You need to consider bed bug bites and infestation before embarking in spending hundreds of dollars on acne creams and body washes. Look out for the following
- Red round and itchy bumps on back, face and arms
- Often they may go unnoticed for those immune to bed bug saliva
- In some people, the bites cause allergic reaction leading to itchy skin
- Highly sensitive people might develop a pus-filled blister that could be hard and lumpy at first and later develop a small opening with pus underneath.
Do you find it strange to get bumps break-out over winter season? If you thought pimples are restricted to the summer season, consider it now as a cause. “Your skin becomes dry due to the cold outside thus leading to more pimple breakouts. Make sure that you drink enough water throughout the day to keep your system hydrated” says beauty expert Shaikh.
- The cold weather and indoor heat will cause your skin to become drier, and fighting it back with drying agents make the skin worse.
- Using cleansers or soaps with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide dries your pimples, but causes the body to produce more oil to avoid over- dryness.
- The drier your skin is the more irritating it becomes causing cracking and flaking which is a breeding ground for bacteria
12. Shaving and Waxing Back Acne
Shaving and waxing according to dermatologists lead to skin inflammation or folliculitis. Friction when shaving, irritates the skins, and infects hair follicles. Waxing leaves the hair follicles open, which leads to accumulation of dirt and, bacteria accumulation in the skin pores. Not keeping the waxed area clean may lead to bacteria build up and pimples formation.
13. Heat and Sweat Caused Bumps on Back
Heat causes the body to sweat. Sweat, especially if trapped under the tight clothing, can cause skin irritation, acne formation or worsen pimples. The summer treat on the beach may seem to be a good idea but be aware, this tanning may make your glands give more sebum than usual. Excess oil produced may trigger pimples on back.
Sweat from exercising or over-exertion may mix with sebum and toxins on your skin’s surface and thereafter, the skin pores become irritated or clogged resulting in bumps formation. Immediate showering after exercise is highly recommended to reduce sweat bumps on the back.
14. Digestive Problems
Have you ever considered the way you eat as a cause of bumps? How well do you ride in a car filled with contaminated fuel? Dermatologists acknowledge that gut issues and skin problems occur concurrently. There are many ways that the digestive system affects your skin.
- Diets high in sugar trans and bad fats may create imbalances in the body leading to acne breakout
- Digestion starts in your upper gastro-intestine (mouth to the stomach). Chewing food well helps the saliva to start breaking down starches and protein. More digestive secretions are produced as the food travels in the stomach. A problem like inadequate or lack of digestive juice causes undigested food travel to the lower GI.
- The lower GI (intestines to colon) is where digested food is sorted out into nutrients and waste. In case you have undigested food from upper GI, then the lower GI does the work thus mistakes happen pilling up to a lot of metabolism problems. As a result, unsorted waste, hormones, vitamins and minerals, undigested fats gets into the intestines, the liver and into the bloodstream. This causes acne pimple formation as just one of the signs of a digestive
According to the nutritionist the following assist in improving your digestive system and preventing acne formation.
- Exercise your stomach; Your stomach movement is essential to your digestive system
- Eat whole food or plant-based diets like vegetables and fruits to help your digestive tract and skin
- Supplement your digestive enzymes with plant-based enzymes to promote efficient digestion and renew damaged cells that can lead to constipation.
- Take digestive aids like raw apple cider vinegar
- Take daily probiotic supplements, which are good bacteria’s that can help keeping your PH level optimum for the body to absorb skin benefiting nutrients.
- Avoid frequent use of dairy products, sugar, soy and gluten that many people are allergic to.
Patients who are diabetic are prone to back acne. They are usually faced with the problem of getting bumps under control and in others, it’s the first visible sign of developing diabetes. Bumps can appear on both Type 1 (Insulin Dependent) and Type 2 diabetes. According to Department of Dermatology at Stanford Health Care about a third of diabetes patients suffer from acne pimples and other skin conditions. Sufferers of diabetes have;
- High blood sugar levels have been linked with bumps zits formation
- Those with Other metabolic diseases may also suffer from mild to severe bumps.
- Diabetes affects body immune system or skin ability to heal itself
16. Boxers and Body Building Exercises
Letting the sweat after work out to dry, dirt sits on your skin and may become a big contributor of your pimples. Staying with the sweaty clothes, or carrying out exercise with unbreathable fabric or using fabric made of synthetic fibres make you prone to back acne due to skin irritation and clogged pores.
17. Protein Rich Diet
An unhealthy diet affects our bodies in many ways. Have you ever considered this statement “You are what you eat”? Research shows that foods high on the glycemic index (GI), ‘meaning they make your blood sugar increase quickly’ make acne worse or lead to acne formation. Eating continuous diets high with some elements like protein and carbohydrates can trigger bumps formation. It’s a good policy to practice eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein.
Others Causes of Back Acne include
- Seborrheic Dermatitis, an inflammation characterised by erythema and scaling
- Truncal Acne, also known as Polycystic Ovarian Diseases
- Acne prone skins, genetics that runs in the family.
- STDs’ and AIDs can cause pimples on back
- Some Medications like lithium and androgens (male hormones) increases chances of developing back pimples.
- Pressure On Your Back (Acne Mechanica) like in cases where you carry backpack or sports equipment with shoulder pads generates more pressure on your back.
- Diets, according to American Academy of Dermatology, certain foods rich in carbohydrates are known to causes acne pimple formation. Carbohydrates and dairy products are the main culprits that trigger
Pimples on Back of Neck
Pimples break out on the back of your neck might be due to the use of some cosmetic products like shampoos, hair products and conditioners and lotions. These products can cause painful or painless pimples on the skin by clogging the pores on the back of the neck.
- Big Pimple on Neck can result from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The condition causes changes in hormones that may result in irregular cycles or abnormal patterns with your periods and abnormal hair growth in males
- Small Pimples on Neck, according to WebMD are associated with heat rash, “a condition caused by swollen sweat ducts in the neck gland”. The heat rashes are more common in infants, but adults can also develop them.
- Pimples on the jawline can also occur due to hormonal shifts and imbalance in the body or due to ‘Acne Mechanica’.
Pimples on Lower Back and Buttocks ‘Butt-Ne’
Pimples on buttocks can be bothering, painful, uncomfortable and annoying. Often they disappear on their own, or through medical treatment. Are buttock pimples different from other pimples? According to assistant Prof Jamie Mackelfresh, a dermatologist at Emory University Atlanta, “acne on the buttocks is not true acne you get on your face”. Butt-ne an outbreak of pimples on the buttocks is caused by two fairly common problems.
- These are pimples caused by inflammation of the hair follicles. According to Mackelfresh, they are caused by an infection from fungus, bacteria or yeast, irritation of hair follicles or blockage of the hair follicles. They appear like shallow little bumps, itchy or irritating than painful.
- According to American Academy of Family Physicians, a carbuncle is a cluster of boils that are painful with pus under the skin. Generally, occurs when the folliculitis gets out of control and becomes a deeper infection on the buttocks.
Can Butt-Ne Be Prevented? “You can prevent ‘Butt-ne’ by staying in good health” according to Jamie Mackelfresh. Observe the following basic health steps to help prevent ‘Butt-ne’
- Avoid wearing tight clothing that causes skin irritation and folliculitis
- Follow doctor instruction to address chronic health conditions like diabetes, HIV and Aids that affect body immune system.
- In case you get folliculitis, seek medical attention to avoid them getting out of control to form carbuncles.
Pimples on Upper Back
Body skin pimples break-out is largely restricted to the upper back and middle. These regions have more sebaceous organs or glands every square crawl than different areas of the body. The hair follicles are more prone to pimples break out with abundant sebum and dead skin cells. Rubbing on the back or weight on the skin can aggravate effectively kindled follicles and worsen the breakout.
Other causes that trigger
- Cozy collars
- Handbags straps
- Knap snacks
- Tight fitting garments
- Athletic cushions and rigging
- Sweat also aggravates the back acne
Types of Back Acne
The types of pimples on back breakout include;
- Whiteheads: they form from total blockage of pores and the hair follicle stays shut underneath the skin due to sebum, bacteria and dead cells. Whiteheads do not last for long before they clear up.
- Blackheads: develop due to partial blockage of pores by sebum, dead skin and bacteria. Blackheads are stable and can be difficult to clear off.
- Cysts: they are similar to nodules in appearance, but usually filled with pus. Cysts are large swollen and painful bumps, avoid popping because they can cause acne scars.
- Papules: they are red, tender inflamed bumps on the skin. Avoid squeezing them even if they look ripe since they can break out in large numbers and cause extensive scarring.
- Pustules: they are inflamed bumps with red circles and white or yellow centres. Pustules can be carefully squeezed to pop.
- Nodules: they are swollen bumps, large, painful and hard under the skin. Avoid popping nodules since they can cause a scar or flare up when aggravated.
Treatment and How to Get Rid of Bumps on Back?
How easy is it to treat pimples on the back? The skin on the back is thicker and it makes it difficult to treat back acne. Dr Trasi says “acne usually leaves scars pigments that can be treated with lasers”. Dermatologist Dr Sadaf, advises the patient to use a topical combination of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin or retinoic acid derivatives. In cases where the pimples are resistant, the systemic antibiotic should be given.
He also adds that the patient should use bathing soap that contains salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide in an interval of 15 days. The following home remedies can also be used to get rid of back pimples.
- Applying apple cider vinegar on the affected back- Apple cider vinegar has anti- inflammatory properties that cleanses the skin, prevent infections and enhance healing.
- Exfoliate regularly – This helps to reduce the number of dead cells on the skin that clogs the skin pores, especially when in contact with the dirt and oil.
- Use of baking soda
- Making changes to your lifestyle, that involves;
- Wear loose, breathable clean clothes
- Wash your cloth with mild fragrance-free detergents
- Shower after workout or exercises
- Rinse all shampoo and conditioners from your hair
- Use medicated oil free products
- Use medicated creams, retinol cream
- Make use of natural methods; make use of scrubs or go for ocean swimming.
- Eating healthy and avoid food that triggers the acne pimples formation.
- Isotretinoin – this is the use of the powerful drug (Accutane, Claravis, others) for acne pimples that do not respond to other remedies. Ensure you take precautions by your doctor because of severe effects.