Back acne (acne vulgaris) is also called Truncal acne or Bacne, which appears on the back (truncal), neck, shoulders and upper arms region. It is characterized by presence of multiple pimples like lesions, blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, cysts, nodules and greasy skin. It is a common skin condition and estimated that 61% of the patients suffer from back acne. Acne is commonly called as pimple. Females get pimple mostly on their face while men get it more on their backs and shoulder region. It commonly affects teenagers at puberty and remains till the young adulthood (20-30years of age). It can affect newborn babies and grown up men and women too.


Depending on the type of acne (simple pimples or cysts or blackheads) one gets on the back, back acne breakouts can be mild, moderate or severe and relatively painless or very painful. The presence of acne on the back and shoulders especially the ones which are severe forms lead to emotional disturbance or irritation in the people suffering from them but there are some effective treatments and home remedies that can help get rid of it.

What Causes Acne on Back and Shoulders?


What Causes Acne on Back and Shoulders?

The following are some of the causes that contribute to the formation of acne on the back or shoulders:

  • Hormonal changes taking place during puberty is considered to be the chief reason for acne. Hormones such as Estrogen or testosterone trigger sebum secretion and increase chances of hair follicle from being clogged and causing acne on the face, back and shoulders.
  • In women, hormonal changes occur during menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or while taking birth control pills, which results in the acne in the face, back and shoulders. In addition, stress-related hormonal changes can also cause bacne.
  • Wearing tight clothes during workouts or backpack leads to friction and sweat production. In addition, factors such as pollution, heat and humidity aggravates the problem.
  • Dandruff, which means flaking of dead skin of the scalp when falls on the back, results in acne on the back and shoulders.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOD)
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Drugs which contain bromides or iodides, oral steroids, anticonvulsants lead to worse bacne breakouts.
  • Greasy makeup (cosmetics) that clogs the pores results in acne on the back and shoulders as well.
  • Many times acne appear post a laser treatment
  • Shaving and waxing
  • While some people are prone to have more acne than others, the reason maybe either heredity or genetic predisposition.

When these acne are rubbed, it worsens the condition and results in more breakouts.


How to Get Rid of Acne on Back and Shoulders?

One should consult a good dermatologist immediately when there is a breakout of acne on the back and shoulders. Ignoring bacne is not good, since it results into dark spots and permanent scars if not treated properly. Most of the approaches which are used to treat face acne can be used for acne of the back and shoulders too. If the dermatologist can ascertain the cause which has resulted in acne, then the treatment can be effective. Some of the remedies (which intent to reduce the bacteria on skin and reduce open pores) used are as follows:

  • Topical Application to Get Rid of Acne on the Back and Shoulders: Most mild acnes on the back and shoulders can be treated by the use of topical treatment lotions, creams, sprays, gels, cleansers, soaps, and other products which contains ingredients such as:
    • Benzoyl peroxide: It acts as a peeling agent which can kill mostly all the bacteria on the skin and slow down oil production.
    • Salicylic Acid: It can help unplug pores by breaking down white and blackheads, reducing shedding of cells, make dead skin loose and reduce swelling and inflammation.
    • Resorcinol: It can help in breaking down blackheads and whiteheads.
    • Sulfur: It reduces redness and swelling of the acne and also helps in breaking down blackheads and whiteheads.
    • Retin A: Retin A has a wide application in fighting against skin aging, acts as a chemical peeling agent and also help in unplugging pores which are clogged.
    • Azelaic Acid: Azelaic acid helps in strengthening the cells around the follicles, stops excess oil secretions, and also helps in reducing bacteria growth.
    • In addition back acne sprays can be also used like:
      • Murad Clarifying Acne Body Spray
      • Glytone Back Acne Spray (2% Salicylic Acid)
      • Murad Clarifying Body Spray.
  • Accutane to Get Rid of Acne on the Back and Shoulders: One of the best treatments for all acne problems is the use of Accutane (Isotretinoin). It has a 66% success rate. However, there are many side effect associated with it like causing several birth defects.
  • Getting Rid of Acne on the Back and Shoulders with the Use of Retinoids: These are similar to Vitamin A and help in unblocking of pores on existing acne and reduces size of the oil gland.
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for Getting Rid of Acne on the Back and Shoulders: Research studies have shown some promising results while application of this new method to get rid of acne on the back and shoulders. It makes use of 20% 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) or 20% methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) photosensitizing agents along with red and/or blue light to get rid of acne on the back and shoulders.
  • Light Therapy to Get Rid of Acne on the Back and Shoulders: Low intensity light is used for this therapy. Artificial ultraviolet light is applied on the affected skin for a specific time period on a regular basis to get rid of acne on the back and shoulders.
  • Hormonal Therapies to Get Rid of Acne on the Back and Shoulders: Blocking of androgen receptors by intake of Spironolactone (Aldactone) can help to some extent in women with acne that are resistant in nature. However, it can cause some side effects such as irregular menstrual cycle and tenderness of the breast.

Although most good treatments can help to get rid of acne within week or less, however, it does take time for blemishes and scars to go off.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Acne on the Back and Shoulders

Home remedies are always referred since they are not very expensive, the things are available at home and they do not cause side-effects. Although home remedies may be good in getting rid of acne on the back and shoulders, yet there is no scientific evidence for them. Some of these therapies are very effective in soothing the pain especially in case of mild and moderate acne. These remedies do not do wonders overnight and they take time to show positive results. The following are some of the home based remedies:

  • Epsom and Sea salt bath helps in relieving the breakout of acne on the back and shoulders naturally.
  • You can also try a simple home remedy of oatmeal bath by finely grinding the oatmeal and adding 2-3tbsp into warm bath water and use it to get rid of acne on back and shoulders. Alternatively, just place the oatmeal in a muslin cloth and immerse it in warm bath water and repeatedly squeeze the cloth to get the juice of oatmeal missed in the water and then take bath. Do not rub the skin; just pat it dry.
  • Cook plain oatmeal in enough water and then add honey to it to make a homemade oatmeal-honey mask. Once it cools down, apply this mask on the acne to get rid of the acne from your back and shoulders naturally.
  • Another effective home remedy for acne on back and shoulder is to mix one portion of apple cider vinegar with two portion of water and pour it in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture every night before going to sleep on the acne.
  • Dilute 2-3 tsp. of tea tree oil with 1 cup of water. Apply this homemade solution on the acne with the help of cotton 2-3 times a day to get rid of the acne on back and shoulders.
  • Take a handful of mint leaves and grind them and apply this paste on the acne affected area. Leave it for 15 minutes and wash off.
  • Take 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon and mix it with honey and lemon juice to make a mask. Apply this on the acne on the back and shoulders and leave it for 15-20 minutes and then wash off.
  • Paste made of backing soda and water is also an effective home remedy to get rod of acne on back and shoulders. Mix 1 tbsp. of baking soda with water to make a paste and apply it on the acne to get rid of them from back and shoulders.
  • Aloe vera gel from the leaf can be applied directly on the acne to get rid of them naturally.
  • Add 1 tsp. of Clove oil to 10 tsp. of almond oil/olive oil/grape seed oil and apply it on the acne.
  • Lavender oil can be used for taking bath. Add 7-8 drops of lavender oil and 1 cup of Epsom salt/sea salt to warm bath water. Soak your body in this for 20 minutes or more to get rid of acne on the back and shoulders.
  • Buy distilled witch hazel and apply it on the acne to get rid of them.
  • Alternatively, you can make a toner with white willow back, witch hazel and tea tree oil. Add one tablespoon of white willow bark to boiling water and let it steep for 15 minutes; now add three and a half tablespoon of witch hazel and 10 drops of essential oil. Mix well and apply the solution with the help of cotton ball for 2-4 times a day. You can use essential oil (any one) like tea tree oil, lavender oil, or black pepper oil.

Other common back acne home remedies include use of tomato, sandalwood, lemon juice, orange peels, cucumber, turmeric powder, toothpaste, egg whites and basil leaves, ground oil. These home remedies help to get rid of acne of the back, alleviate pain and clear or reduce the blemishes or scars caused by them.

Tips to Prevent Acne on Back and Shoulders

Since acne on the back and shoulders are caused due to hormonal changes, they cannot be prevented. When one observes early signs of acne on the back and shoulders, they can immediately consult the dermatologist and get it treated. Instead of waiting for the acne to grow, one can also take steps to prevent them as follows:

  • Taking a good shower after workouts does not allow the accumulation of sweat, dirt and other microbes. Regular use of soaps with anti-bacterial cleansers such as Cetaphil or other gentle skin cleanser should be used.
  • One should make use of mild skin care products instead of the ones with harsh fragrances.
  • One should avoid use of oil based cosmetics, moisturizers and sunscreen lotions. In addition, one should stop use of cosmetics that cause pores to close. Since these have a high tendency to give rise to acne on the back and shoulders.
  • One should perform regular skin exfoliation to remove the dead skin cells' built up. This can be done by use of the scrubbers.
  • One should be careful about the choice of the diet and should avoid eating spicy and oily food stuff which aggravates the problem of acne. In addition, one should drink adequate amount of water.


When a person suffers from the problem of acne on the back and shoulders, it is indeed embarrassing and emotionally disturbing. When detected in the initial stages, rather than ignoring them, an immediate consultation with dermatologist will prove beneficial. Knowing the cause of acne on the back and shoulders will allow effective treatment in short span of time and provide relief to the patient suffering from it.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 6, 2017

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest