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Acne Treatment for Back, Chest, Neck, Body and Scalp

By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Mon, May 11, 2020

best skin care products from dermatologist to treat body and back acne

Get rid of body acne with professional acne treatment products.

Dermatologist's top products and tips to treat bacne once and for all.

Pimples and blackheads on the back and chest are all too common. They can leave scars long after the pimples have healed. This type of acne is often called bacne! Pustules can also occur on the buttocks, though these are typically from sweat and friction. Pimple-like pustules on the arm and thigh skin are most commonly due to keratosis pilaris. These are less common forms of acne-like lesions. The more common types of body acne are acne vulgaris and Pityrosporum folliculitis.

What causes body acne?

Acne on the back and chest is caused by,

  • Acne vulgaris, the most common type of acne.
    • It often starts in the teenage years and lasts until early adulthood
    • P. acnes bacteria (now called C. acnes) plays a role in this type of acne.
    • Skin lesions include blackheads, pimples and cysts.
    • Acne lesions can scar, and scars from cyst can be quite large.
  • Pityrosporum folliculitis
    • This type of acne can start in the early teens and last well into adulthood. It can even persist into the middle age years!
    • It is caused by a yeast called Pityrosporum. Another name for this yeast is Malassezia. P. acnes also plays a role in causing the pimples.
    • This type of acne causes bright red pustules that both itch and hurt. They heal by leaving brown discoloration that persists long after the pimples have gone away. They can also heal leaving white scars.
    • Pustules often extend down the back to the waist. The scalp and neck can be involved too.
    • Many clogged pores leave tiny flesh colored bumps on the skin that heal with white scars.

What is the best treatment for body acne?

Both types of body acne require treatment to reduce the P. acnes bacteria. Pityrosporum folliculitis also requires use of products that fight the Pityrosporum yeast germ. 

The best medicated ingredients to fight the germs that cause body acne are,

  • benzoyl peroxide,
  • pyrithione zinc. 

Clogged pores and blackheads play a key role in both types of acne. Treatment requires keratolytic skin care products.

Keratolytics are ingredients that dissolve the connections between dead cells so that they can desquamate. This treats blackheads and clogged pores by allowing the plugs of dead cells and debris to dissolve.

The best keratolytics to treat clogged pores and blackheads from body acne are,

  • salicylic acid,
  • glycolic acid, 
  • benzoyl peroxide.

    Using exfoliating shower cloths, sponges and scrubs help these germ fighting ingredients and keratolytics to better penetrate skin to heal acne fast. The best way to deliver acne fighting ingredients to the large expanse of skin involved with body acne is by using medicated cleansers that leave a residue of active ingredients on the skin after you rinse them off in the shower. You need strong products to penetrate the thick and tough skin on the chest and back.

    Dermatologist's professional products to heal body acne fast.

    Foaming Zinc ™ Cleanser and Calming Zinc ™ Bar Soap both contain 2% pyrithione zinc, the highest concentration allowed. This ingredient has been shown to fight the Pityrosporum yeast, which also plays a role in dandruff and tinea versicolor (another skin problem caused by the same yeast germ). 

    Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cleanser is made with 10% benzoyl peroxide, the highest concentration of this ingredient allowed.  

    best treatment for back, chest and body acne
    My Back and Body Acne Kit gives you my Foaming Zinc ™ Cleanser with Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Cleanser and a Salux shower cloth. You can't get better bacne treatment! 


    Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser Extra Strength is made with 2% salicylic acid, the highest concentration of this ingredient allowed. It also contains 10% glycolic acid.  This cleanser comes in my Ultimate Acne Solutions Kit - Extra Strength, which is excellent treatment for facial acne vulgaris. The cleansers are also sold alone and I have a lower strength one that has 2% salicylic acid and 2% glycolic acid.  

    If you want a simple routine to clear facial acne along with body acne, try my Ultimate Acne Solutions Kit (not extra strength) plus Calming Zinc Soap (can be used on face and body). Get the Salux Cloth to treat the body and the Exfoliating Facial Sponge for the face. Alternate the cleansers for both face and body. 

    To treat scalp pimples, use Foaming Zinc Cleanser and a Scalp Scrubber to wash your hair. Be sure to get the cleanser down onto your scalp skin and help it penetrate by massaging with the Scrubber. Leave it on for 5 minutes then rinse it off. 

    How do you treat pustules from keratosis pilaris, or pimples on the skin of the buttocks? 

    best treatment for KP and body acne
    Here the main problem is keratin plugs in the pores that then form a white head behind the plug. The key here is to get the plugs out of the pores. The best treatments are my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Kits. I have two: Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing AHA Kit with glycolic acid and my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Kit  which contains a body wash made with a beautiful foaming cleanser that has a combination of .5% salicylic acid, 10% glycolic acid and rolled eco-friendly beads. Both Kits come with a Salux shower cloth to speed results.    

    Sun protection is really important to prevent body acne scarring! 

    best sunscreen for skin with body acne

    Sun will cause hyperpigmentation that lasts much longer than the pimples, and that can even be permanent. Keep the sun off your skin with clothing. For exposed skin, use a mineral zinc oxide sunscreen daily to prevent hyperpigmentation. The most popular daily wear sunscreen for body acne is my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+. I include that in my Pityrosporum Folliculitis Kit that can be customized to treat body acne too.   

    best treatment for body acne