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Treatments for Acne on the Back for Men

Treatments for Acne on the Back for Men Treatments for Acne on the Back for Men Treatments for Acne on the Back for Men

For men, especially those who work up a sweat often during work or play, the back is a common site for acne. The back is home to a large number of sebaceous glands. They are larger than the ones on your face, and they tend to produce more oil. For this reason, people who are prone to back acne often develop more severe lesions there than they do on the face. The acne spots may take the form of cysts or nodules, and they can lead to significant scarring. Fortunately, acne on the back is treatable.


Sometimes, lifestyle factors contribute to back acne. Examples are backpacks that rub the shoulders, tight or non-breathing clothing and sweating. If this is the case for you, try wearing loose-fitting clothes made of cotton fibers and carrying your belongings in something other than a backpack. and taking a quick shower after you work out or play sports. If you exercise or play sports, take a shower immediately afterward. If you lift weights without a shirt, wipe down the weight bench before lifting, because oil and dirt that you pick up from surfaces can cause back acne.

Topical Preparations

Topical treatments come in overt-the-counter (OTC) and prescription versions. OTC products typically contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, lactic acid, resorcinol or sulfur as their active ingredient. They work by drying up oil and killing bacteria but are generally only good for mild cases of back acne. For tougher cases--and that is often the case with men's back acne--prescription creams and lotions are available. Among them are tretinoin (sold under the well known brand names Retin-A, Avita and Renova), tazarotene and adapalene. They help dead skin cells to slough away more quickly so they do not plug hair follicles. Doctors also prescribe topical antibiotics, sometimes in a combination with benzoyl peroxide. When you using strong prescription creams, you can expect some mild redness, burning and peeling.

Oral Antibiotics

Prescription oral antibiotics work by reducing bacteria and soothing inflammation. They are usually prescribed for a short course--three to four months--because otherwise, antibiotic resistance is more likely to develop. Antibiotics can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you have to be careful about getting a sunburn while taking them. Potential side effects of the treatment include dizziness, upset stomach and skin discoloration. Oral antibiotics have an advantage in treatment of back acne: You do not have to contort into a pretzel shape trying to put lotions or creams on hard-to-reach parts of your anatomy.


Isotretinoin, sold under the brand name Accutane, is suited to acne that does not respond to other treatments and to the severe cystic acne that sometimes affects the back. The problem is, this powerful medication also causes several side effects. Among the common ones are dryness of the lips, mouth, nose, eyes and skin; muscle aches; nosebleeds; poor night vision; sensitivity to the sun; and nosebleeds. You may also experience an increase in blood cholesterol, triglyceride and liver enzyme levels. Men are exempt, however, from the most serious side effect, which is isotretinoin's tendency to cause severe birth defects when expectant mothers take it.

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