What is Body Acne?

Sara Schmidt

When acne occurs anywhere on a human other than the face, it is known as body acne. Causes of body acne are not fully known, though the factors that contribute to the condition can range from genetics to an imbalanced diet, to inadequate hygiene. Some forms of acne located in certain areas are informally known as specific terms, such as back acne, which is often referred to as "backne."

Individuals with body acne commonly have it on their faces as well.
Individuals with body acne commonly have it on their faces as well.

The back, upper arms, and buttocks are some common body areas where acne may develop. Other areas of the body, such as the chest and legs, may also break out in acne. Like facial acne, body acne occurs when the pores of the skin become inflamed. Areas of the body with more pores are therefore more susceptible to the development of acne.

Back acne is sometimes referred to as "backne".
Back acne is sometimes referred to as "backne".

Males are more commonly affected by acne of the body than females. They also experience harsher, more painful breakouts than females on an average basis. People who have acne on any area of their bodies almost always have it on their faces as well.

Also like facial acne, acne that occurs throughout the body can vary in its degree of severity. Some cases are very mild, with sparsely-distributed small bumps. These may even be painless. Other breakouts can be larger, and are often more painful. Just as with facial acne, the body can break out in anything from blackheads and small pimples, to larger cysts or pustules.

No known cure for body acne exists, though treating body acne symptoms is possible through a variety of means. A dermatologist can help patients choose which body acne remedies suit them best. Many physicians may recommend an anti-bacterial cleanser as a base treatment, followed by stronger remedies if needed on a case by case basis. Benzoyl peroxide creams, lotions, and other products may be recommended. These products are also often available without a prescription at many drugstores.

Eating a balanced diet can often help prevent or lessen occurrences of acne. Opting for fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains over sugars, carbohydrates, and fats can often help people manage their body acne. Sugar scrub or other mild exfoliants can be applied to help reduce many cases of acne.

Some people use lemon juice to treat their acne. By rubbing the juice over the body, it is purported to help eliminate some of the abrasions on the skin. Alpha hydroxy treatments are also available over-the-counter. People with severe cases of body acne may require oral antibiotics or other prescription medications.

Using an exfoliant can help clean out pores.
Using an exfoliant can help clean out pores.

Discussion Comments


My husband had spotty body acne when we first married. It's better now that he's a little older and his skin isn't as oily, but I've gotten a few bad pimples for him that were driving him crazy on his back.

He had to take a couple of rounds of antibiotics and prednisone to help clear up a really bad breakout. They really did help to clear up his skin, and I don't think he's had a breakout that bad since.


A good friend of mine in college had terrible acne on her back. It grossed everybody out except me, so no one would pop the worst of the pimples on her back to help the itching, except me. Yeah, I know you're not supposed to do it, but she was miserable.

I'd also get the Buf-Puf and would use it on her back since she couldn't reach the worst of it, to help exfoliate it. She had one place on her back that was just awful, and it itched terribly. It was about the size of my thumbnail. She didn't want to go to the doctor, so I put a warm, wet compress on it, then squeezed it a little. A head came up, so I sterilized a needle and poked it. You wouldn't believe how much stuff came out. It was unreal. No wonder she was itching so! I packed it with antibiotic ointment and put a bandage on it for her. It healed fine, but it was a bad place.

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