Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Insecure Me: Back Acne Update

Several months ago, I had written a post about my long-time struggle with acne on my back and shoulders.  For the most part, it's been under control since I was a teenager (with treatment for the acne) but after changing my routine while traveling over Christmas, I had a series of horrible, large pustules as well as some nodules all over my back.  These were large pimples and lots of them, at least a dozen.  It was painful, embarassing, and made me feel very insecure.  However, this was nothing terribly new to me and I pretty much knew how to deal with it.

First, I changed my body wash from Neutrogena's Body Clear Body Scrub to Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser.  The body scrub, along with a loofah, seemed to be irritating my skin even more and causing more acne.  I also started applying a 10% benzoyl peroxide lotion on my back and shoulders after showering each night.  This did the trick to eliminate and dry up my acne fast but it also made my skin peel and there were literally skin flakes all over my clothes and it was really gross and awkward.  So I then cut back to a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion and a few weeks later (after still peeling), I cut down to a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide lotion.  After finally getting to a 2.5% formula, I began also using my old faithful Stridex acne pads in the morning.  My skin has dramatically improved and I have had only a handful of much smaller, less painful pimples that have healed faster than before as well.  Additionally, my skin is no longer peeling.  My current biggest battle is that the very large pimples I had way back in December have left red spots on my back that still resemble a pimple but without the three dimensional texture (flat red spots).  I'm just happy knowing that I am back on my way to clear skin and it seems that each week the red spots fade a little more.

My Routine:

For anyone who is struggling with back acne and is wondering about my routine, here is exactly what I do.

At Night:
1. I always shower at night.  I used to sometimes skip on weekends and shower in the morning but now I've gotten religious about being sure to shower every night to cleanse my skin.  I use Cetaphil Extra Gentle Cleanser as my body wash and gently apply it with my hands, being sure not to scrub or otherwise irritate my skin.
2. After showering, I gently dry my skin with a towel.  After my skin has had a few minutes to completely dry, I gently apply a generous layer of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide lotion to any areas that break out.  I get my lotion at Walmart.  (It is step three of their generic Proactiv system.)  It costs around $6.00 for a two ounce bottle, which is quite cheap.  I always sleep in a plain white T-shirt because benzoyl peroxide bleaches fabrics quite easily.  Your towels and pillowcases and sheets may also bleach easily, so it's something to be aware of if you're thinking of using this routine.

In the Morning:
1. I use the Stridex 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Pads.  Using 2 or 3 pads, I go over the area that breaks out.  This gives another acne treatment to your skin but for me, it removes most of the benzoyl peroxide so that my clothes don't get bleached by the BP.  BP can bleach your clothes even many hours after applying.  Salicylic acid, however, does not bleach.

If you would like more information on inexpensive drugstore options to help get rid of your body, back, or facial acne, then check out www.acne.org.  They do not sponsor me, they have never sent me free items for review, nor do they support me in any way.  I have just found that for my face and back acne, their advice has completely changed my skin for the better and for their free advice and tips, I am eternally grateful.


  1. I've always wanted to know what people use for that. I don't get acne on my face or arms. It's EXTREMELY embarrassing for me, but I get them on my back and bum!! Can you believe that! It just makes me feel disgusting.

    1. I completely understand how you feel. You could try this routine out and see if it works for you. Or check out acne.org. I think they have a section specifically on body acne so maybe they will have some other helpful suggestions for you.