What Causes Pimples on Back and Shoulders?

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Your face isn’t the only place where acne and breakouts can happen. Like your face, the upper half of the body has sebaceous glands and hair follicles that secrete sebum to keep your skin moisturized, but when excess sebum gets combined with bacteria and dead skin cells, it can clog up your pores and cause breakouts on back and shoulder area. Back acne is also called truncal acne or more popularly “bacne.” Knowing the cause of bacne will allow effective treatment in a short span of time and provide relief to the person suffering from it. Wondered what causes pimples on back and shoulders? Here are a few factors that are clogging up your pores with trapped bacteria and sebum inside them, resulting in acne on the shoulders and back.

Causes Pimples on Back and Shoulders

  • Dandruff: When dandruff flakes fall on the back and shoulders, they can cause acne.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: It is a condition that can cause rough, scaly skin on the scalp, face and body and commonly overlaps with acne.
  • PCOD: If you suffer from polycystic ovarian disease, chances are more that you will have back acne.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes taking place during puberty, menstrual cycle, pregnancy, stress or while taking birth control pills are considered to be the chief reason for bacne. Hormones such as estrogen or testosterone trigger increased sebum secretion and there’s a high chance of hair follicles getting clogged causing acne on the back and shoulders.
  • Medications: Some drugs which contain bromides or iodides, oral steroids, anti-convulsants lead to worse acne breakouts on back.
  • Oil-based skin care products: Using moisturizers, cosmetics, sunscreens, and any other oily products on your back can lead to back acne flare-ups.
  • Laser Treatment: Due to the heat generated by the laser therapy, bacne can occur as a side effect of post laser treatment.
  • Shaving and Waxing: Shaving and waxing can also lead to bacne due to improper shaving technique or not changing razor blades regularly. Bumps can also show after waxing if it’s not done properly.
  • Friction or heat: Carrying a backpack or wearing sports equipment like shoulder pads can cause pressure and friction on your back and can trigger certain types of back acne breakouts called acne mechanica.
  • Clothing: Wearing non-breathable fabrics during workouts can trap sweat in your skin leading to clogged pores where bacteria feeds on sweat and sebum. Also, wearing sweat-soaked clothes for long can lead to bacteria to flourish and cause bacne. Wear clothes according to the climate and make sure you laundry it regularly. Also, do not forget to shower to clean out your pores after a sweaty workout session.
  • Improper Cleansing: Since you won’t be able to reach your back while bathing, pores get clogged up with excessive dirt and oil and contribute to acne breakouts. Using a mild cleanser with a loofah or long-handled bath brush will help you to get to the “hard to reach” spots when you lather up in the shower.

Find the root cause for your bacne and make the fixes soon so that you can stop stressing and reduce your risk for scarring.


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