Meanwhile, fluctuating hormone levels can be a contributing factor to bacterial outbreaks. “The most common pattern is that an outbreak occurs seven to 10 days before the onset of [menstrual] bleeding and subside once the bleeding begins ”, Hadley King, MD9, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Medical College at Cornell University in New York City, tells SELF. This is because there is a mid-cycle increase in progesterone which stimulates the production of sebum. Androgens (commonly referred to as “male” hormones) like testosterone also stimulate sebum production during this time. The potential outcome? Oily skin, clogged pores and a new round of bacneten.
You may also notice bacne flare-ups during other hormonal changes (think: during or after pregnancy or during perimenopause and menopause). Hormone-related conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, can also stimulate the disease thanks to the intense hormonal changes it can cause.
The way your genetic makeup and particular hormones interact with other aspects of your lifestyle adds an extra layer of potential back acne causes. If stress is a constant problem for you, for example, this could be one of the reasons why bacne is too: the body produces more androgens in response to stress, which causes the sebaceous glands to pass. into high gear.7.
Excessive sweating is another common precursor of bacteria, for example to labor. King or living in a hot climate. “When sweat remains on the skin for an extended period of time, it can lead to clogging of the pores,” says Dr. Garshick. Add to the mix some tight sportswear that causes friction while you exercise (and traps heat and sweat against your skin in the process), and you’ve got a perfect rash storm.4.
An increase in back acne can also be a side effect of certain medications, including drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While research is still fragile on the subject, it’s possible that your bacne outbreaks are also linked to certain aspects of your diet. Studies suggest that foods with a high glycemic index (white bread, white potatoes, pastries, white rice, milkshakes) can be major acne triggers. “It’s probably because of the resulting spike in blood sugar and how it affects our levels of insulin and other hormones,” says Dr. King. Ditto for dairy products, she adds: “Milk and dairy products can promote insulin secretion and the production of hormones, such as IGF-1.11, which is known to be a major contributor to the development of acne12. “
How many types of acne are there?
There are several types of acne that can become a regular streak on your back. And it helps to understand which type you have in order to better treat your acne. Read on to learn how to recognize each type of bacne you might encounter.
Also known as closed comedones, white pimples appear when the pores are clogged with excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. “Just like they do on other areas of the body, whiteheads show up on the back as a closed pore with a white or skin-colored tip on them.13», Deanne Robinson, MD14, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale Medical University in New Haven, Connecticut, tells SELF.
Like whiteheads, blackheads (or open comedones) are the result of clogged pores. But unlike whiteheads, “there is an opening that exposes the oil and dead skin cells trapped in the pores to air, causing oxidation and a dark color to build up.13Says Dr Garshick. (Whiteheads and blackheads are non-inflammatory forms of acne, says Dr. Robinson, which means you might not even know they’re on your back unless someone else do not see them.)
This type of acne is what most people call pimples. “Papules occur when excess sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria get trapped deeper in the skin and lead to inflammation (redness and swelling),” Jacquelyn Sink, MD15, a certified dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois, tells SELF. “They show up as small, firm bumps13. “Depending on the color of your skin, the papules can be red, brown, or something else.
These pimples look much the same as papules, but are larger in size and contain yellow or white fluid. “The pustules usually appear as a lump that may have a central pus lump,” says Dr. Garshick. “Not only can these be present in acne, but in various types of folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicle)13. “
A highly inflamed form of acne, lumpy acne is made up of deeper, firmer bumps located under the skin. “The nodules can appear skin-colored or red, depending on their degree of inflammation, and may be associated with tenderness to touch,” says Dr. Garshick. They tend to be larger than papules and pustules and require treatment by a dermatologist to prevent scarring in the long term.13.
Cystic acne involves larger, more painful bumps under the skin caused by deep inflammation. Because they are filled with pus, cysts tend to be softer than nodules and may be associated with redness or inflammation, says Dr. Garshick. They can drain or have an overlying scab and can cause scarring when they heal.