What are these deep pimples on my back?
When pimples appear, they may choose to pop up on many places apart from just your face. When doctors are referring to many pimples, they call them acne. Pimples on your back are commonly known as back acne or bacne. This skin condition affects the oil glands and hair follicles. Anyone who has back acne can get treated and regain clear skin.
Sometimes oil and dead skin cells become trapped in a skin follicle, creating a blockage. A follicle is the pore from which hair grows. Every hair on your body grows from a single follicle. When a skin follicle is blocked, it may turn into an inflamed pimple.
The situation may worsen when the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria invades the blocked follicle. The resulting inflammation and irritation brings about swelling. The swelling is described by doctors as:
- Pimples: The clogged pores have an open wall that seeps its contents under the skin, forming a red bump. The bump’s top is often filled with pus.
- Whiteheads: The clogged pores close and bulge out of the skin.
- Blackheads: The clogged pores stay open. The top surface can darken.
- Cysts: The clogged pores form deeper in the skin. They’re bigger and more painful than a pimple.
If you have deep pimples on your back, your doctor may mention cystic acne or nodular acne when referring to them. However, it is important to know that the two are different. When you have nodular acne, the pimples feel hard. Cysts are softer than nodules since they contain fluid, and often resemble large, red boils.
You may also notice:
- A large bump (may appear white and feel like a hard knot under your skin)
- Tenderness or pain when you touch
Since both may appear together, they can sometimes be referred to under one name, nodulocystic acne. This is the most severe form of pimples or acne. They often lead to scarring and, therefore, require the attention of a skin specialist or dermatologist.
According to doctors, it’s believed that acne-related cysts and nodules are caused by pores containing too much oil, bacteria growing in pores, or dead skin cells in pores. Also, since acne is known to run in families, deep pimples on your back may be genetic. If both your mother and father had acne, you may be at risk of developing it.
Although anyone can get deep pimples on the back, some risk factors include:
- Hormonal imbalance
Diagnosis for deep pimples on your back
Your doctor may just have to perform a physical examination by looking closely at the affected area.
Treatments for deep pimples on your back
Painful, deep cystic and nodular acne pimples tend to be difficult to treat on your own. You will need a doctor to prescribe and administer some of the available interventions.
According to doctors, topical medicines may not treat cysts and nodules. Nodulocystic acne occurs so deep that topical medicines cannot penetrate that far.
Antibiotics will help stop or slow down the growth of severe acne and reduce inflammation. Certain antibiotics like Tretinoin, Adapalene and Isotretinoin (Accutane) can help to stop the development of new acne lesions, unplug pimples, and decrease acne formation.
Other medications that are used to treat moderate to severe acne may be used, although your doctor may have different opinions on how effective they are on deep pimples on your back. These include:
Nodular and cystic lesions can also be treated by injecting a steroid drug into them. This therapy has resulted in rapid improvement and decreased pain.
These self-help techniques may be useful in preventing your condition from worsening:
- Do not wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day as it can irritate the skin and worsen symptoms.
- Use a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water as hot or cold water can worsen acne.
- Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic. Look for packaging that reads “non-comedogenic,” “non-acnegenic,” “won’t clog pores,” or “oil-free."
- Don’t use anything that rubs against your back, such as a backpack. Anything that rubs against your back can irritate your skin.
- Wear clean clothes as dirty ones can carry sweat, oil, and dirt, further irritating the skin and contributing to the development of acne.
- It is advisable to always wear loose clothing during exercise and to change clothes after a workout.
Possible complications and side effects
In addition to physical discomfort, deep pimples on your back can affect self-image and social relationships, leading to stress. Since stress may make acne worse, it is recommended that you consult a doctor about your condition before taking any other action. If you find yourself anxious about your case of back acne, consider talking to a mental health therapist.
One of the medications, Isotretinoin, has major unwanted side effects including headaches, tiredness, dry skin, nose, and eyes. It is very important to discuss this drug with your doctor before considering its use. Steroid injections may cause side effects like skin thinning and discoloration in the treated area.
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Diagnosis and Treatment of Acne”
American Family Physician: “Use of Systemic Agents in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris.”
Hopkins Medicine: “Acne.”
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: “Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris.”
Kumar B, Pathak R, Mary PB, Jha D, Sardana K, Gautam HK. New insights into acne pathogenesis: Exploring the role of acne-associated microbial populations, Dermatol Sinica, 2016.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “Acne.”
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