I have been battling acne on my shoulders and back ever since puberty. Luckily, after about a year, I had figured out how to get it under control. Every now and then, I would get a spot here or there but it was pretty much controlled. In high school, I would apply a layer of 10% benzoyl peroxide at night. In the morning, I would use a Stridex pad and that kept my acne at bay. The only bad thing was the dry skin it would cause in the winter but I was happy to deal with the dry skin if I could just keep away the acne. As an adult, it seemed like my back acne had pretty much gone away so I had stopped using the benzoyl peroxide and just started using the Stridex pads after showering at night. It was pretty much under control until I changed birth control last spring. I went from taking pills to the shot and all of a sudden, the acne on my back started to pop up again but it wasn’t really that bad.
In December 2011, Brian and I went back to Pittsburgh for the holidays. Stridex pads are not exactly the most travel friendly acne product, as the liquid tends to run out of the tub and into everything you pack around it. I learned this the hard way the last time we traveled so this time, I brought some AcneFree Sport 3-in-1 Sport Wipes. Like Stridex pads, they have 2% Salicylic Acid as an acne fighting ingredient. Little did I know the skin havoc this decision would create.
Within twenty-four hours, the skin on my back had begun to break out. Within forty-eight hours, the acne on my back was as bad as it was when I was fourteen. I was completely broken out again. I'm not sure what was in the wipes that caused me to break out or if it was just the change in my normal routine. I do know that from now on, I will never use those things again.
The Solution (I Hope)
When I got home from my trip, I went right back to using my Stridex pads. I know that acne can take several weeks to clear up but after four weeks, I saw no difference in my skin and I was still continuing to get new break outs. Then I found the information on acne.org about how to clear back acne. For light to moderate back acne, the website suggests trying 2.5% benzoyl peroxide to clear acne on the back and shoulders. Since I already had this product around for use on my face, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try. I noticed that the smaller acne spots cleared up pretty quickly but after two weeks, my skin was dry and peeling but I was still getting some large pimples on my back. Yesterday I decided it was time to go back to the same solution that worked for me in high school: 10% benzoyl peroxide at night and 2% Salicylic Acid pads in the morning. To combat the dryness, I’ve been using my Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion. I guess only time will tell if this will work but I’m guessing it should, as it worked for me in the past.
To be honest, I would rather have acne on my back than on my face. It’s much less noticeable and far easier to hide. The bad part about it is that it can be rather painful and things like purse straps, bra straps, and people touching you can make it even worse. While being less obvious than facial acne, it is still one of those things that can make a person feel insecure. Who wants to wear cute little tops or a bathing suit or even just take off their shirt when you have back acne? It’s uncomfortable. I know when my back acne was at its worst right after Christmas, I felt dirty and gross, even after showering. For me, my acne is clearing up right now but the red spots still remain long after the acne has healed. Hopefully within a few weeks my skin will be clear again and back to normal.