Natural Remedies for Back Acne

Stay bacne-free with a few easy changes to your everyday routine

Back acne is never enjoyable, but a summer wardrobe of tank tops and swimsuits may make you especially self-conscious. While medicated creams and cleansers are usually the top choices for treatment, a number of natural remedies and simple tricks may also help banish back acne.

Like all forms of acne, back acne (also shortened to "bacne") occurs when the hair follicles beneath the skin become clogged. The overproduction of oil, bacterial buildup, and inflammation of oil-producing glands can all play a part in pimple development. And since pores on the back are significantly larger than facial pores, they can become clogged much more easily and quickly set the stage for back breakouts.

If you’re struggling with back blemishes, you’re far from alone. Research shows that about half of people with acne suffer from a condition called “truncal acne” (i.e., zits that turn up on your back, chest, and shoulders).


Tea Tree Oil

Pipette with drop of essential oil.
BSIP/UIG/Getty Images

Studies suggest that tea tree oil (an essential oil long used in aromatherapy) may help kill the skin-dwelling bacteria involved in acne. Some body washes use tea tree oil as a key ingredient, which could help alleviate back acne.


Natural Exfoliators

Variety of natural body care goods, including sponges, wooden body polishing brushes and wooden comb.
NightAndDayImages/Getty Images

Exfoliating removes dead cells from your skin, which can keep pores from getting clogged. With the help of a dry brush, you can slough off dead skin cells. Mixing equal parts brown sugar and raw honey make a nice DIY body scrub. 

It's important to note that this is a preventative strategy; it's best not to scrub skin when trying to reduce active acne, as this may cause additional inflammation and irritation.


Low-Glycemic Foods

Chickpea salad
John Anthony Rizzo/Getty Images

Filling up on foods with a high glycemic load (such as candy, sugary drinks, white rice, french fries, and low-fiber cereals) may leave you more acne-prone.

To improve your skin and boost your overall health, follow a diet with a low glycemic load by opting for fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, and beans.


Botanical Emollients

pouring oil into hand
Ruth Jenkinson/Getty Images

Since body creams and massage oils containing mineral oil, synthetic lanolin, and cocoa butter may aggravate acne, try hydrating with plant-derived products that are oil-free (like aloe vera gel) or are less likely to clog pores like argan oil, neem oil, shea butter, or sea buckthorn oil.


Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Westend61/Getty Images

Because inflammation and acne are closely linked, focusing your diet on anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, certain kinds of nuts, whole grains, and beans may help reduce future outbreaks of back acne.


Reduced Dairy Intake

Almond milk on a table.
Kristin Duvall/Getty Images

Easing up on dairy could help fend off back acne. Research suggests that androgens and growth hormones found in milk products may stimulate acne development.


Stress Management Techniques

People doing yoga.
Peopleimages/Getty Images

There’s some evidence that stress makes acne worse. In a small study published in Archives of Dermatology in 2003, for example, college students experienced more severe acne during exam periods.

For help in keeping back acne at bay, try taking up stress-reducing practices like yoga and meditation.


Zinc-Rich Foods

Bowl of fresh spinach leaves on wood
Westend61/Getty Images

Some research indicates that zinc (an essential mineral) may help tame acne-related inflammation and curb your skin’s production of oil. You can boost your zinc intake with such foods as wheat germ, oysters, pumpkin seeds, and spinach.


White Willow Bark

Woman pouring lotion into hand, close-up
RunPhoto/Getty Images

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne cleansers and treatments. For milder acne, applying it on the skin helps to unclog pores by correcting the abnormal shedding of skin cells.

Although products are usually made with salicylic acid that has been synthesized, the chemical is also found naturally in white willow bark. While there's no evidence that white willow bark products are more effective those made with salicylic acid, they may be an option for people who want to avoid certain ingredients in conventional over-the-counter products.

Although these remedies haven’t been tested against back acne in particular, it’s possible that they could help keep your skin clear. Just make sure to talk to your doctor before using any type of dietary supplement.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
  • Chiu A, Chon SY, Kimball AB. The response of skin disease to stress: changes in the severity of acne vulgaris as affected by examination stress. Arch Dermatol. 2003 Jul;139(7):897-900.
  • Dreno B, Moyse D, Alirezai M, et al. Acne Research and Study Group. Multicenter randomized comparative double-blind controlled clinical trial of the safety and efficacy of zinc gluconate versus minocycline hydrochloride in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Dermatology. 203.2 (2001): 135-140.
  • Melnik BC. Diet in acne: further evidence for the role of nutrient signalling in acne pathogenesis. Acta Derm Venereol. 2012 May;92(3):228-31.
  • Melnik BC. Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:131-45.