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What Causes Back Acne in Males?

What Causes Back Acne in Males?

Acne is a sore spot for a lot of men, both literally and metaphorically. Men are often discouraged from discussing their insecurities, especially insecurities concerning their appearance. But part of practicing healthy masculinity is acknowledging that it is okay to want to look your best. 

The first step is to face your insecurity head-on. You have acne, and you want it taken care of. Lucky for you, there are several resources available for improving men’s skincare and grooming. Unfortunately, acne will often extend beyond the face — which is where most articles and essays limit their information to — and onto the body.

The back is a general area for men to struggle with acne, especially if they lead active lifestyles and exercise consistently. But why does it develop there, and how can you avoid it? 

MadeMan is committed to offering simplified solutions for any man seeking to take control of his life and looks and is here to educate you on the most common causes of back acne, as well as convenient methods for combating it.


Getting a grasp on the causes and treatment of back acne requires understanding acne as a whole.

Acne is a skin condition that occurs on areas of the skin with sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are glands that secrete oil called sebum into the hair follicle to lubricate the skin. Sometimes, these follicles become clogged. 

When bacterias feed on the substances clogging the follicles, they can multiply and lead to skin irritation. The redness and swelling that tend to follow are what we recognize as acne. 

One of the most common acne triggers is hormonal changes. For example, an increase in androgen — the hormone that begins to increase during puberty and contributes to growth in men — prompts sebaceous glands to enlarge, which, in turn, results in an increased production rate of sebum.  

Other common triggers include diet and stress. Several studies suggest that the overconsumption of harsh ingredients rich in carbohydrates may cause blackheads and whiteheads to worsen. As for stress, an increase in the levels of stress-related hormones being released in your body is known to cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum faster. 

The increased production of sebum that comes with these triggers increases the chances for clogging, infection, and irritation. Different types of acne can result from this process. 

Whiteheads are produced when the follicle wall bulges, but the pore remains closed. Blackheads are produced when the plug is open to the surface and, thus, darkens. Small red bumps on the skin are called papules, and papules with pus at the tips are called pustules. Finally, when bacteria, dry skin cells, and sebum get trapped in your pores and form a cyst deep beneath the skin, cystic acne results. This is the most severe form of acne.

Tending to the effects of acne often outlives the acne itself. Acne can leave behind scarring and discoloration, which may require its own treatment.

Back Acne

Acne can occur anywhere on our bodies where we have sebaceous glands. The more sebaceous glands that you have in one area, the more likely you are to develop acne on that spot. Your back happens to contain some of the most sebaceous glands on your body. This makes back acne extremely common. 

Every man faces the unfortunate potential for the pores on his back to become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells and to develop into blemishes. The following are some of the most common causes of back acne in men and how to treat them.

Clothing Mistakes

If you are a man who works out regularly, you will likely deal with back acne at some point in your life. Your chances of developing acne on your body increase if your gym attire consists of tight-fitting athletic gear.

Material that fits tightly against you and rubs against your body as you go through the motions of your exercise routine can cause friction. This friction may result in a type of acne called acne mechanica

Acne Mechanica is acne that develops as a result of the skin is repeatedly exposed to friction. This type of acne can result in all the same inflammatory skin lesions as acne vulgaris (e.g., whiteheads, pimples, cysts, etc.). 

Athletes are most at risk of developing acne mechanica because of their clothing and lifestyle choices. Exercise is essential, and fitness is a critical aspect in any Made Man’s life, but with a few adjustments, there are ways to go about your workout without developing acne on your back. 

One of the simplest adjustments you can make is in the clothing you choose to wear while exercising. If possible, try using looser attire than what you currently wear. By wearing looser clothing and removing friction from the equation, your chances of developing acne mechanica will decrease dramatically. 

It is also possible that your skin may be sensitive to the type of material your clothing is made out of. As an extra precaution, you can try avoiding synthetic fabrics, which are fabrics consisting of fibers made by humans. Instead, use clothing made of natural fibers.  

If material made of natural fibers does not fit your personal preference, we recommend prioritizing wearing breathable fabric instead. Breathable fabric allows for perspiration to escape from the surface of your skin and out of the restraints of your clothing. 

Managing your sweat and hygiene is also a key part of avoiding back acne if you lead an active lifestyle. Regardless of whether you are wearing breathable fabric or not, after your workout, it is important that you change out of your clothes and hit the shower. 

The sweat on your body combined with the humidity trapped in your clothing and the friction your skin just underwent from exercising may promote the development of acne. 

Leaving the sweat on your body may also cause the bacteria that infects clogged hair follicles to remain stagnant on your body. Prioritizing your hygiene after an intense workout session will rid your body of this unwanted bacteria and stop the development of back acne in its tracks.

Shower Mistakes

Let’s imagine that you have just gotten home from the gym and begin washing all of that sweat and bacteria off of your body. It might seem like common sense, but a lot of men forget to wash their backs while showering. It is an easy spot to forget, being as it is literally located behind you and sometimes tricky to reach.

Still, it is important not to forget this area when washing up. Remember, your back has a lot of sebaceous glands and is one of the areas most in need of a rinse after a long day. Make sure you are using products that are gentle enough, but that also provide a deep enough cleanse.

You may also choose to shave your back while showering. Most men have hair on their backs and whether or not they decide to remove it is a matter of preference. If you choose to shave, you must use a razor with a blade that is neither dull nor dirty and a safely formulated shaving gel to avoid breakouts and blemishes.

MadeMan’s The Resetter is a product that can fulfill both your cleansing and shaving needs all in one. This product is a water-based two-in-one cleanser and shaving gel that uses all-natural ingredients. Two of these ingredients include glycerin-infused coconut oil and quillaja soap bark extract.

The glycerin-infused coconut oil is full of antioxidants that create a barrier on the skin’s surface to decrease moisture loss, perfect for after a sweaty workout. The quillaja soap bark extract contains saponins that bind water to your skin and, in the process, calms and purifies it. This is useful if your skin has just recently experienced friction. For a full list of ingredients, click here.

Together, the ingredients in The Resetter facilitate a deep but gentle cleansing and a smooth shave. 

Finally, once you have exited the shower, further soothe and rehydrate your skin with an effective moisturizer like MadeMan’s The Refresher. This moisturizer uses vitamin C, chicory root, and castor seed oil ingredients to restore the skin’s natural moisture balance, lift and tighten, and directly prevent acne.

The right combination of cleanser, shaving gel, and moisturizer can protect you from back acne even after the longest day at work or the most intense session at the gym.


In short, back acne is extremely common. If you find yourself struggling with it, know that you are not alone and that there are viable options for treating and preventing it. Fighting acne and improving your confidence should not interrupt your lifestyle. 

That is why we have chosen to share with you convenient ideas and products to implement into your skin care routine. With a little time and self-discipline, your body will be acne-free in no time.


Acne vulgaris: pathogenesis, treatment, and needs assessment | PubMed

Acne and sebaceous gland function | PubMed

Acne mechanica | PubMed

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