The Causes & Different Types Of Back Acne (“Bacne”)

September 5, 2022

The Causes & Different Types Of Back Acne (“Bacne”)


Acne does not only develop on your face.

Back acne (“bacne”) is a common skin condition that plagues many teenagers and adults. They develop when oil-secreting glands are clogged and become inflamed. Acne can occur on body parts, other than your face, that have sebaceous glands or hair follicles and they include your back, chest and shoulders.


What Causes Back Acne (“Bacne”)

“Back acne is the result of an accumulation of dead skin cells and oil within the pores in the skin, combined with an overgrowth of a common skin bacteria, Cutibacterium acnes, which triggers an inflammatory response,” says dermatologist Kara Shah.

Just like how facial acne forms, bacne develops when the pores on your back become congested with excess oil, dirt or bacteria. In addition, bacne is commonly associated with sports activities that involve excess sweating and friction resulting from the prolonged wear of athletic gear and clothing. These factors when combined can clog pores and either cause new blemishes to form or exacerbate existing bacne.


Different Types Of Back Acne


Whitehead is a mild form of acne that appears on the skin as small to medium white or skin coloured bumps. They are also known as closed comedones as clogged pores stay closed. As this type of acne is closed, it can be more difficult to treat than blackheads.



Blackhead is also a mild form of acne like whiteheads. However, unlike whiteheads, blackheads are open comedones that form as a result of pores getting clogged by sebum and dead skin cells. They feature a black-tip that is a result of sebum oxidising which makes the pores appear black.



Papules are small pink bumps on the skin. They do not contain pus but can be tender to the touch as they are formed when pores become inflamed. This type of acne occurs when comedones rupture in the skin, causing your body to respond to infection with inflammation.



Pustules, commonly known as pimples, are white or yellow pus-filled papules that have become infected. They appear as small bumps on the surface of your skin and the build-up of white blood cells gives them a yellow or white “head”. This type of acne usually occurs on the face, chest and back, and is often a result of excess sebum production.



Nodules form when bacteria gets trapped in hair follicles. They develop deep below the surface of your skin and harden to form large and painful nodules. Unlike pustules which often take only a few days to heal, nodules may persist for weeks or even months.



Cysts is a severe case of acne that involves large pus-filled acne lesions. These deeply embedded blemishes are painful and can take a long time to heal. Cysts carry high risks of scarring so it is important to treat them well and avoid picking at these blemishes.


Use a hand held mirror or seek a friend’s assistance to examine the acne on your back. Identifying the type of bacne you have and what may be triggering your breakouts is the first step in formulating an acne treatment plan to eliminate back acne.


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