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Combatting Back Acne: Understanding the Role of Bacteria and Sebum

Updated: Jun 3

a model's back with no back acne

Even with regular cleansing, acne can still appear on the back and chest. It seems that many people are dealing with body acne, such as 'back acne' or 'chest acne.'

Given that the back and chest are areas with high sebum secretion, acne tends to develop more easily. However, excessive scrubbing can also have counterproductive effects.

The factors related to back acne are 'excessive sebum' and 'bacteria.' In collaboration with the microbiome care specialists in KINS LAB, let's learn how to control back acne.


Causes of Recurring Back Acne: "Bacteria" and "Sebum"

model's back without back acne

Despite consistent cleansing, persistent back acne remains a recurring issue, including acne on the chest.

Body acne, particularly among adult women, is a prevalent concern. The significant roles of 'sebum' and 'bacteria' are key concerns for those dealing with recurrent back and chest acne.

The balance of sebum and bacteria is notably influenced by internal factors. Let's learn effective methods for fundamental back acne care from within.

Three common factors for those with recurring back acne:

  1. Consuming high 'carbohydrates' like sweets and starches.

  2. Liking dairy products such as cream and cheese.

  3. Leaving shampoo residues.

Points 1 and 2 are especially common among those with recurring back acne.

→ Consuming high 'carbohydrates' like sweets, white rice, and ramen:

high carb donut that is not good for back acne

High-carb items, labeled 'high glycemic index (GI),' cause a rapid blood sugar increase. This includes daily consumed carbs like white rice and ramen, not just desserts.

To counter the spike in blood sugar, the body releases insulin, promoting sebum secretion. Choosing 'low-GI' carbs over 'high-GI' and opting for 'brown carbohydrates' is essential.

→ Liking dairy products like cream and cheese:

dairy foods that are not good for people with back acne

Individuals with back acne should be cautious about dairy products. Regularly consuming milk, yogurt, cheese, or cream may stimulate androgen, potentially increasing sebum secretion.

Those with severe back acne should check their dairy intake.

→ Leaving shampoo residues:

a person washing hair

Shampoo or conditioner residues can contribute to back acne issues. Despite rinsing, residues often persist, potentially causing skin irritation and affecting bacterial balance.

Maintaining bacteria balance is crucial for skincare. Even with thorough rinsing, if back acne concerns persist, unexpected residues may be present. Take time to ensure a comprehensive shampoo rinse.

"Incurable Back Acne: Could 'Fungal Bacteria' be the Cause?

When we think of acne, the common perception is that 'Acne bacteria' is the primary cause, typically present among the skin's commensal bacteria. While they play a role in maintaining skin moisture, overgrowth can lead to issues like acne.

Concerning back acne, it is not only 'Acne bacteria' but also the fungus 'Malassezia' that is often involved.

What is Malassezia Fungus? The Cause of Back Acne

'Real fungi' are a type of mold, and this 'Malassezia fungus' thrives by feeding on sebum, associated with various skin issues.

When such fungi excessively proliferate, it can lead to various skin conditions. While the common perception is that 'Acne bacteria' causes acne, back acne is often attributed to the fungus Malassezia, referred to as 'Malassezia folliculitis.'

This condition occurs in hair follicles, which naturally have a higher sebum secretion in the back and chest, conducive to the growth of Malassezia fungus compared to the face.

In other words, the care for back acne is insufficient with the same approach as facial acne.

If severe back acne persists, it may not be acne caused by Acne bacteria but rather a serious 'Malassezia folliculitis.' Specialized treatment from a dermatologist may be necessary, so be cautious not to ignore it.

Pay Attention to Sweat-Induced Humidity

As an external measure against Malassezia fungus, preventing 'humidity' is crucial, especially in seasons where back sweat is common. Wearing moisture-absorbing clothing and maintaining cleanliness are crucial.

Sebum Feeds the Acne Bacteria

Both Acne bacteria and Malassezia fungus thrive on sebum. It's essential to be mindful of excessive intake of carbohydrates and dairy products to avoid promoting excessive sebum secretion. Additionally, nurturing 'beautiful skin bacteria' is crucial for maintaining the balance of commensal skin bacteria, contributing to overall skin health.

Say Goodbye to Back Acne! Achieving Smooth, Clear Skin

a person without back acne

To tackle back acne effectively, comprehensive care, considering both internal and external aspects, is recommended by KINS LAB.

While external solutions are common, addressing the root causes within the body is crucial for persistent back acne.

Initiate the following measures for holistic care:

Strategy 1: Avoid Sebum-Increasing Foods

Begin by reducing foods that boost sebum production, such as sweet items with white sugar, high-GI carbohydrates like bread and white rice, and dairy products. These items contribute to insulin-triggered sebum secretion, making it essential to limit their intake for effective back acne care.

Foods linked to back acne include:

  • Sweet items with white sugar

  • High glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates like bread and white rice

  • Dairy products

Strategy 2: Be Mindful of Gluten

Gluten, found in pasta and bread, can impact the skin by affecting the intestinal environment. Gluten compatibility varies, and it can lead to a "leaky gut," allowing toxins to affect various areas, including the skin.

If you consume wheat products frequently and experience acne concerns, reducing wheat intake may be beneficial. Be aware of foods containing gluten! Also in pasta and bread, gluten, can have an impact on the skin as it can also affect the intestinal environment.


balanced meal good for preventing acne

High-carb foods, wheat products, dairy, etc ...

It's surprising to learn that everyday foods we commonly consume can be causes of back acne. Skin troubles are significantly linked to the body's internal condition, especially the intestinal environment.

If you're experiencing repeated back acne, start by committing to inner care for a specific period, such as 2 weeks to 1 month.

Even changing your diet to reduce excessive sebum production may make a significant difference in your skin within this timeframe.


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