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How Does Back Acne Develop?

by Contributing Writer
  • How Does Back Acne Develop?
    How Does Back Acne Develop?
  • About Acne

    Acne is a disorder that affects people of all ages and races. Once thought to be the result of poor diet and bad hygiene, it is now known that the causes of acne are far more complex. Hormonal changes, heredity, stress and pollutants are some of the possible causes for acne.
    Diagram of a blackhead. NIH.
  • Acne Development

    Regardless of where it is on the body, acne develops in the same way. Sebaceous glands are found alongside the hair follicle, and they are most numerous on the face, chest and back. They secrete sebum, an oily substance made mostly of fatty acids. Sebum is necessary to provide moisture to the skin and hair. Cells that line the follicle, like all skin cells, are periodically shed and replaced by new cells. Acne develops when these cells stick together after being shed and mix with the sebum, blocking the opening of the follicle. It then swells up with the sebum, which is still being produced by the sebaceous gland. Bacteria that is normally on the skin now begins to multiply inside the clogged follicle, causing inflammation.
    Hair follicle anatomy from "Gray's Anatomy".
  • Prevention and Treatment

    Friction from tight clothing or sports equipment can exacerbate or cause acne, as can humidity. After exercising or being in a hot environment, one should shower immediately and wash gently but thoroughly with an antibacterial soap. Do not scrub, as this can irritate the skin and make acne worse. There are medications made specifically for body acne, like sprays containing salicylic acid. Make sure clothing is clean and made of a light, breathable fabric, such as cotton. If acne is a persisent problem, a dermatologist should be seen. He can provide a prescription for topical preparations, antibiotics or an anti-acne drug like Accutane.

    References & Resources