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Can Stress Cause Acne on Your Back?

Stress is undoubtedly bad for your body as it makes your nervous system act differently and all the activities in your body are controlled by brain. Stress also affects your skin and makes it more prone to acne. It might not be the only reason for acne but it does acts as a supporting cause for acne. You must have observed that acne hit your skin more when you are stressed. Acne can occur on any part of the body including back, chest, face, underarms etc. Acne on your back are also caused by stress as do other forms of acne.

Can Stress Cause Acne on Your Back?

Can Stress Cause Acne on Your Back?

The connection between stress and acne has been a debated topic for long but the results of numerous researches over the recent years have confirmed that stress makes you more prone to acne and make the acne worse.

In a research study conducted by a group of researchers from Stanford University in 2003 published a report in Archives of Dermatology. The study was conducted on a group of students and it was found that most students had acne flare-ups before or during the examinations. The acne were not just restricted to face but occurred all over the body including back. Thus, it would not be wrong to conclude that stress causes back acne. Stress also makes the back acne worse in the individuals who are already having acne.

A group of researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine also conducted a similar study in 2007. They studied the occurrence of acne among the students of a high school from Singapore. The results of the studies confirmed that the stress increased the risk of acne. The study reported significantly lower instances of acne during the summer break when they were not stressed. On the other hand, the acne flare-ups increased during the exams. You can find numerous studies with similar results.

While it has been proven that stress leads to back acne, medical experts are still trying to find out why and how exactly stress causes acne. The studies conducted so far suggest that stress triggers the release of sebum (skin oil) in excess amount which possibly explains how stress and acne are related to each other. Sebum when present in excess on the surface of skin leads to clogging of skin pores or follicles. The sebum actually gets mixed with the dead skin cells and prevents them from shedding off the skin surface. The clogged pores provide easy sites for the dirt to accumulate and bacteria to grow leading to acne. In the case of acne on the back, the situation becomes worse as your back always remains covered not allowing the sweat and oil to easily dry up.

When people are stressed or anxious, they tend to behave awkwardly and so does the body. You must have observed that you start to sweat more when you are nervous. Thus there can be numerous reasons that relate stress to acne.

Choose soft and Cotton Clothes to Get Relief from Back Acne

One of the most important factors that you need to take into account while treating back acne is the choice of clothes. The clothes are in constant touch with the acne on the back. As you move, the surface of the clothes rubs against the acne heads and makes the infection to spread. This not only spreads the acne to a larger area but also makes it harder to treat back acne. Thus, it is very important that you wear clothes that are soft on your body. Cotton clothes are particularly very helpful in preventing back acne during the summers. They absorb the sweat and provide good aeration to the body.


  1. Baldwin, H. E. (2017). The role of sebum in the development of acne. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 31(s4), 4-7.
  2. Chiu, A., & Chon, S. Y. (2003). Kimball AB. The response of skin disease to stress: changes in the severity of acne vulgaris as affected by examination stress. Archives of Dermatology, 139(7), 897-900.
  3. Kim, J., & Ko, J. Y. (2019). Kim HJ. Stress and the skin. The Korean Journal of Dermatology, 57(2), 87-95.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 18, 2023

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