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How To Clear Up Back Acne


A lot of you have been asking how to get rid of back acne or “bacne.”

I have a lot of effective suggestions for you, plus, if you’ve also got breakouts on your chest or shoulders, these suggestions will help clear up those breakouts as well.

To get rid of breakouts on your upper body (back, chest, and/or arms), you’ve got to treat the problem and eliminate the cause(s).

Breakouts on your upper body need to be treated differently than the breakouts on your face (your skin is much more delicate and sensitive on your face than any other part of your body, so the suggestions I am giving you today are just for upper body acne and breakouts (your back, chest, and arms) – don’t be trying this stuff on your face!

Skin care tips for clearing up back and chest acne.

How to get rid of back acne (plus chest and upper arm breakouts too!)


I will always stress the importance of taking junk food, processed foods, and fast food out of your diet. This is really important to clear up acne, not only to clear up breakouts on your face, but your chest, back, and arms as well.

Always start with cleaning up your diet.

Along with taking out junk food and processed food, there’s two things to watch out for that I find cause breakouts and acne on the back, chest and shoulders, and that is: dairy products and vegetable oils.

Dairy Products

80-85% acne sufferers notice either an improvement or complete clearing up of acne and breakouts once they take dairy products out their diet. This includes upper body breakouts and acne as well.

The reason why dairy products is connected to breakouts and acne is due to sensitivities or allergies to dairy products, and/or blood sugar issues. When you have a sensitivity or allergy to foods like dairy products, it causes inflammation, and interferes with proper digestion, and symptoms start showing up on you skin, including pimples, cystic acne, boils, and rashes.

If you are getting breakouts and acne on your chest or back (or both), take a break from dairy products completely for at least a month to see what happens (you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised!). Dairy products include all milk products like milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, butter, sour cream, etc.

Cooking Oils

Eating foods cooked in oil or made with oil could be causing your breakouts on your upper body.

There’s a few reasons for this:

Cooking oils are not easy to digest, and a lot of cooking oils that are sold at the supermarket can already be spoiled or rancid when you buy them. Most vegetable oils are not meant to be heated or cooked (many vegetable oils have very delicate and have low smoke points, so they easily burn when heated). Eating any food that contains rancid or burned ingredients isn’t meant for eating, and can be difficult to digest – which will give you symptoms like breakouts, pimples and boils on your skin.

Also, some food byproducts will always be released through your sweat (thats why some people who eat a lot of garlic smell like garlic, or if you eat a particularly oily dish or food you might notice your skin is much oilier a few hours later).

The part of your body where you sweat the most is your upper body (sweat is released a lot more on your chests and back compared to your legs, and that’s why you are prone to chest and back acne and not leg breakouts!). The oil in your diet could very well be clogging or building up in your pores from your sweat. Decreasing the oil in your diet can help clear up back and chest acne.

I do want to be clear that when I’m talking about oils, I’m talking about oils, not healthy fats that are naturally occurring in your food. So go ahead and eat avocados, eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, meats, etc., but decrease (or eliminate) the oils you are cooking with, or adding to your foods.

The oils you must stay away from completely are hydrogenated oils, sunflower oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, soy bean oil, cotton seed oil, etc. These are not healthy oils, and therefore terrible for your skin.

If you are going to use any oil to cook with or make your food with, you can use a good quality cold pressed avocado oil, coconut oil, or olive oil (make sure it’s pure, and just use very sparingly!).


As I mentioned before, your upper body is where you sweat the most (that’s why you have breakouts on your upper body and not on your legs!).

Knowing this, there’s some things you need to do and be diligent about to stop the breakouts and prevent them from coming back.


Hygiene is very important, and I’m not only talking about showering regularly, but making sure your clothing, towels, pillow cases, and bed linens are always very clean as well. Anything that is touching your skin, must always be clean, and preferably free of harsh fragrances and chemicals.

Detergents & Skin Sensitivity

If your breakouts are very bumpy, or rash-like, I would recommend not using scented products or harsh detergents, including harsh clothing detergents and bleaches. Sometimes chemicals and fragrances in skin care products and detergents can irritate your skin, and even cause breakouts.

When selecting clothing detergents, go with fragrance-free eco detergents, and ones that don’t contain harsh chemicals and bleaches (buying a clothing detergent from a health food store is always a better option).

Skin & Hair Products

Anything that is touching your skin regularly can cause irritation and breakouts, and this includes your hair, and the products you use on your hair.

Mineral oil and silicone found in shampoos, conditioners, hair styling products, creams, and lotions needs to be avoided because these two ingredients can easily clog your pores. Whatever you are using on your hair will touch your skin on your shoulders, back, and chest (either directly from your hair touching your skin, or when you sweat). The less you put on your hair, the less chances of irritating or clogging up your pores.

That being said, if you suspect there could be a connection between your hair and your chest or back breakouts, take a break from using hair styling products completely, switch to shampoos and conditions that don’t contain mineral oils or silicones, and tie your hair back, away from your skin. It’s especially important to keep your hair away from your skin when you exercise (if you have long hair put your hair up in a bun, not a pony tail), and if you can, while you sleep, tie your hair back in a very loose bun away from your skin.



Breakouts on your back and chest can be coming from a build-up of dead skin cells and products that are trapping oil and sebum in your pores.

Exfoliation is so important. If you’ve got breakouts on your chest, back, or arms – you must exfoliate your skin regularly.

For most people, the skin on your chest and back, especially your back, can be a lot more resilient than the skin on your face, and therefore you can exfoliate your chest and back much more regularly than your face. Also, since your clothing and hair can be constantly rubbing against your chest and back, having the extra exfoliation can help keep you skin clean and allow it to breath properly.

What’s most important is not to use anything too abrasive. A gentle body scrub or a dry skin brush is sufficient. You don’t want to be scrubbing your skin until it get’s red or flushed- that’s an indication it’s too much! Be very gentle.

I would recommend lightly exfoliating the skin on your chest, arms, and back 1-2 times/week to start with. As your skin gets used to it, you can work-up to exfoliating 2-3 times per week. If you are using a dry skin brush, you can eventually use a dry skin brush daily. For some of you, your skin on your chest might be a lot more delicate than your back, if that’s the case, you can exfoliate the skin on your chest less regularly than your back. And remember, this is a protocol for breakouts and acne on your chest, arms, and back, I don’t recommend exfoliating your face this often.

Skin lotions & Sunscreens

The less products you are putting on your skin, the better. I recommend avoiding lotions, oils, and creams on your chest, back, and arms while you’re trying to clear up your breakouts.

If you are living in a sunnier area and need to wear sunscreen, do your best to stay away from sunscreens that have silicones and mineral oils. I recommend Suntegrity Body Sunscreen SPF30 sun protection (I get breakouts from most sunscreens and sunblocks, and this is one that never gives me rashes or breakouts).

If you are wearing sunscreens or sunblocks on arms, back, and chest, it’s also important to exfoliate your skin regularly because product build-up can in fact be causing your breakouts and acne.

Body washes & scrubs with salicylic acid for treating upper body acne

An effective treatment for arms, chest, and back acne is to use body washes or scrubs with salicylic acid. I recommend Alba Botanic Acnedote Face & Body Scrub (DON’T ever use this product on your face, just use it on the areas on your chest, back, or arms where you have pimples and breakouts).

If you want to use a body wash or scrub with salicylic acid, I recommend using 1-2 times per week, for 6-8 weeks. After 6-8 weeks, if your skin doesn’t improve, stop using it. If your skin completely clears up, then you can stop using it as well. If it is clearing up, but not completely, then continue using it 1-2 times per week until the breakouts are completely gone. Salicylic acid can sometimes be very drying (depending on the product and formula), so it’s not something you want to be using daily, or forever. It should just be used to treat the breakouts, and once the breakouts are gone, then you can stop using it.

About the Author
Hi, I’m Natasha St. Michael, Founder of Inspire Beauty. I’m also a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Natural Health Educator accredited by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. I’m obsessed with skin care and self-care. I’m 47 years old, struggled with adult acne until I was 30, and now I’m all about preserving the youthfulness of my skin (and sharing all my tips and tricks). If you have a question about a product or need a recommendation, feel free to contact me anytime.


This blog is for information purposes only. The content is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Should you have a medical or dermatological problem, please consult with your physician. None of the information or recommendations on this website should be interpreted as medical advice.

All product reviews, recommendations, and references are based on the author’s personal experience and impressions using the products. All views and opinions are the author’s own. 

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