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Backne, Buttne and All About Body Acne

“Bacne” (acne on your back), “buttne” (acne on your buttocks) and body acne are surprisingly common, yet people don’t talk much about it. Facial blemishes are often in the limelight, but these pesky whiteheads, blackheads and spot eruptions are not exclusively contained to the face. 

Other than the face, acne can affect other parts of the body such as back, chest, neck, shoulders and even buttocks! About half of people with facial acne will also experience body acne and this tends to be more common in men. Body acne is a different ballgame and let us (and our Experts) tell you why. 

Expert Panel

All the information is brought to you by our lovely and qualified Picky Experts! Thanks to this panel of amazing professional for providing the Picky community with scientific backed skinformation.

Dr. Crystal Lee (Doctor)

Dr. Meg Sison (Doctor)

Dr. Mara (Dermatologist)

Dr. Katrina (Dermatologist)

Why is this happening to me?

Body acne is similar to facial acne and are medically known as “acne vulgaris”. Clogged pores and excessive sebum are often the main culprits. Bacteria grows inside these clogged pores resulting in the formation of a pimple!

Body acne especially back acne are more prevalent in teenagers and worse in boys due to higher levels of androgen hormones. People with oily skin or hormonal disorders such as polycystic ovaries (PCOS) are also more prone to acne. 

Repetitive rubbing from clothing, sports gear or backpacks can also aggravate body acne. This is akin to “maskne”! The physical irritation causes your skin to make more cells, thicken and increase the dead skin cells which contribute to acne formation. 

Very simply, all acne is caused by four main factors: excess oil, clogged pores, Cutibacterium bacteria and physical irritation.

Is “Buttne” a thing?

Spots on the buttocks are more likely to be folliculitis than true acne. Folliculitis refers to the inflammation of hair follicles and, they look like zits with a hair in the centre. This can happen be due to infection (bacteria, yeast, virus) or physical irritation such as shaving or wearing tight clothing. Folliculitis can also appear anywhere on your skin that has hair -chest, back, face, arms and legs! 

True or False:
You Can Use Facial Acne Products For Your Body?


“It’s alright to do spot treatment if there are only a few acne lesions on the trunk. But if the body acne is extensive, it’s recommended to use body washes with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for hard to reach areas like the back.”
Dr. Meg

“Absolutely! There is no need for a special body product, as long as it is affordable to use over a larger area.” Dr. Mara

“There’s no problem using your facial acne product for your back, especially if you have just a couple. However, if you have a pretty extensive involvement of the back, then it may neither be economical nor practical to do a spot treatment using your facial product. For larger surface areas and hard to reach areas, you’re better off with a body wash that targets those acne eruptions.”
Dr. Katrina

How to Combat Body Acne: Tips from Experts

Body acne can be challenging to treat due to its location and practicality of applying any form of treatment – don’t even get us started on how every cream applied to the buttocks are smeared off whenever you sit! Folliculitis or acne, they can both be combated with these tips!

Tip #1: Use body wash that contains acne-targeting ingredients 

“Look out for body wash that contains ingredients such as salicylic acid (BHA) and benzoyl peroxide. Body wash containing acids can also be used for the rest of the body as a light exfoliant for smoother brighter skin.”
Dr. Crystal Lee

“Great ingredients for body acne include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, azelaic acid, and even retinoids.
Dr. Katrina

Tip #2: Cleanse thoroughly but not excessively  

Make sure that your skin is cleansed thoroughly in the shower as hair shampoos and conditioners can also leave residue on the back. Avoid showering excessively as this will dry your skin! 

Tip #3 Cleanse your skin gently

Avoid scrubbing affected area with loofahs, buff puffs or back brushes. Instead, opt for gentle chemical exfoliants that keep dead skin cells from clogging your pores without rubbing your skin raw!

Tip #4 Sweaty habits

“Excessive sweat and bacteria can lead to clogged pores, so shower ASAP after a workout! If showering is not an option, change your clothes and use a toning/cleansing pads for a quick wipe down.”
Dr. Crystal Lee

“Minimize activities where oil and moisture can easily be trapped, and allow the skin to be exposed to air is recommended. Wear breathable, sweat-wicking clothing can also be helpful.”
Dr. Mara

“Take a bath immediately after working out and change into clean, dry clothes.”
Dr. Meg

Tip #5 Choose the right moisturiser

Moisturising your skin can help soothe and repair skin barrier but opt for ones that are ‘light’ and ‘non-comedogenic’. Moisturisers containing benzoyl peroxide, AHA and BHA are also great options. 

Tip #6 Don’t pop them, treat them 

Squeezing and picking your acne can lead to acne scarring. Instead, use products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. 

Tip #7 Stop aggravating them 

Try swapping a backpack for a handheld bag if you notice acne on your shoulder or back. Shaving with care can also minimise risk of developing folliculitis.

Tip #8 Speak to your dermatologist 

“If you have tried all of these things and are still struggling to get your breakouts under control or the blemishes are leaving scars, it’s high time to see a dermatologist! You may need topical antibiotics or oral prescriptions to get on top of your acne. At times, it may be fungal folliculitis that may need anti-yeast treatment.”
All Experts agree!

Picky Expert Body Acne Recommendations

“Benzoyl peroxide wash, salicylic acid wash, salicylic acid peels, topical retinoids like adapalene 0.1% gel or tretinoin 0.05% lotion (if lesions are few). Prescription medications like oral antibiotics, oral anti-androgens or oral isotretinoin will need to be given if the body acne cannot be controlled with topical medications.”
Dr. Meg

“Look for ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide – a benzoyl peroxide wash works wonders. A salicylic acid wash or an in-clinic salicylic acid peel would also do the trick. Depending on the extent of involvement sometimes oral antibiotics or oral isotretinoin can be given.”
Dr. Katrina

Patience is key

We hope this Picky Guide was helpful in helping you combat your body acne. It can take up to 8 weeks to see any improvement. If you are struggling to get on top of your breakouts, do not hesitate to reach out to your dermatologist!

Pick’s Body Acne Picks

CeraVe SA Body Wash

Really good for when I get those odd pimples on my shoulder and back! Doesn’t dry my skin out and is relatively gentle. Nothing negative to say.” -Melspalette

Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub

When I need it, it works fast and is extremely effective. It’s easy to work into a thick lather and apply wherever it’s needed. For me, it’s on my upper back and/or chest area after my pores get clogged. The thing I love the most is that it’s fairly gentle and doesn’t dry out my skin. It also has a pleasant smell.” –Brgs2012

Anua Heartleaf Acne Body Wash

Not drying at all, even for eczema. Every time after washing my skin feels very moisturized and smells nice. This body wash surprisingly didn’t sting my eczema, yay! After using it for 3 weeks, my back acne has significantly reduced and some of my acne scars also faded.” -Kcxyreview

Medicube Red Acne Body Wash

Are you someone who is suffering from body acne? Or you get a lot of sebum on your chest and back? Then this is perfect for you! As for my pimples, they are slowly disappearing and less painful or red. This body wash contains all ingredients perfect for any skin type.”Naiaa

Cetaphil Bright Healthy Radiance Brightness Reveal Body Wash

“Faint citrus scent. Lathers well. Easy to rinse and does not leave my skin dry. No bad experience, but make sure to patch test first. Especially for those with sensitivity to fragrance.” -Drmegsison (Picky Expert!)

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