How I Got Rid of My Back Acne

The exact steps I took to clear up lingering adult acne.

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Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

I had bad acne as a teenager, covering my face and way too much of my body. When I got older, everything cleared up, except one lingering problem area: my back.

The acne on my back seriously messed with my self-esteem. I was always incredibly self-conscious about going to the pool or anywhere else that I need to be shirtless. Much to my relief though, I’ve finally found a routine that has cleared it up.


The change that had the biggest effect on my acne was that I became hyper-vigilant about not having dirty fabrics against my back.

Step one was to never wear a shirt twice without washing it in between. This was pretty easy, because I rarely wore dirty shirts anyway. But sometimes it meant going through a few shirts in a single day — one for the morning, one for a run, and one for after the run.

I stick to this rule no matter how briefly I was wearing a shirt. If I had to change into something for half an hour, it still goes into the hamper afterward.

Step two was to start washing towels after every use. This was a much bigger adjustment. I grew up washing my towel once a week, and I carried this habit into adulthood. This meant that I was using a clean towel once, and a dirty towel six days in a row.

To clear up my acne, I had to drop this habit. I started to use each towel just once before throwing it in the hamper. This lead to an immediate, noticeable reduction in the acne on my back.

Step three was to start washing my sheets every week (instead of every month). This was probably the single most helpful change that I made. Having clean sheets does wonders for reducing acne.

I’ve read some people online suggesting to change sheets every single day. I have no doubt that it would help, but it was just too much changing sheets for me.

These days I’m doing much more laundry than I’m used to. Instead of a weekly load of laundry, I now wash my clothing every couple of days. It’s been worth it though, because my skin is doing better than ever.

Shower Routine

The other major changes that have helped me reduce back acne have been to my shower routine. The first change that I made was getting better about showering right after a run or workout. I no longer sit around in a sweaty shirt for an hour, which couldn’t have been good for my skin.

I also started using a body wash with salicylic acid on my back. This ingredient is great for clearing up acne. Specifically, I use Neutrogena’s body scrub, but I’d expect any brand to work fine. I use it every single day, and make sure to use a back brush to help exfoliate.

A Clean Back

These steps are all that I needed to see a massive reduction in back acne. I still get occasional pimples, but my back is essentially clear, especially compared with how it used to look. I no longer get self-conscious when I take off my shirt, which is a great feeling.

To recap my steps:

  • Never wear a dirty shirt.
  • Wash towels after every use.
  • Change sheets every week (at least).
  • Shower immediately after work outs.
  • Use salicylic acid
  • Use a back brush

These steps won’t work for everybody, but if there are any that you haven’t tried, I highly recommend them. I hope they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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