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Back Acne and Its Causes

Back Acne and Its Causes Back Acne and Its Causes Back Acne and Its Causes

Acne is a common skin condition that can occur on any area of the body, with more common outbreaks on the face, neck, chest, shoulders, scalp and back. Back acne can be especially bad due to the sebacious glands on the back being larger than other areas of your body, which means produce more sebum oil. This creates the right conditions for many types of acne to form, ranging from simple comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) to serious inflammatory acne, such as acne cysts.


Sebum is an essential oil that both protects and moisturizes the skin. Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands located beneath the skin. When these glands produce excess sebum, the oil can combine with other substances on the skin to create a hard substance capable of blocking follicles on your skin.

Skin Cells

As new skin cells develop, old dead skin cells are pushed towards the surface of the skin and sloughed off to make room for the new developing cells. These dead skin cells are made of keratin, and when combined with sebum form a substance capable of blocking the follicles of your skin. At this stage the acne is made up of comedones.


Bacteria can also play a role in back acne formation, especially more serious forms of acne, such as pustules. Bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) can get trapped inside the plugged follicle. This creates the right conditions for the acne to thrive and multiply. The body responds to this invasion by sending white blood cells to kill the bacteria, which forms pressure and pus inside the blocked follicle. At this point the acne has progressed to a pustule. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, as long as the acne stays at this stage and does not progress any further, the lesion will most likely not leave a scar after healing.


As bacteria and pus build up inside an acne lesion, the pressure can allow the pus mixture to break the follicle walls and flow into the surrounding skin. This causes redness and inflammation and can turn a back acne pustule into a more serious form of acne, such as a cyst or nodule. If inflammation continues to grow, the resulting pressure can cause the cyst or nodule to burst, resulting in acne scar tissue on the back.

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