So, let’s say you’re reading this because you’ve already discovered a constellation of painful pimples on your back. First things first: Don’t pick. Don’t scratch, don’t squeeze, don’t scrub. Though it’ll be satisfying in the moment, you’ll definitely regret it: Dr. Lortscher says in addition to scarring, it could worsen the breakout.
Instead, carefully wash it with the right soap. Dr. Lortscher recommends using one with zinc pyrithione, like Noble Formula 2 percent Pyrithione Zinc Bar Soap (he notes that using a non-vegan version of the soap is advised since vegan bars have cocoa butter in them which can trigger a breakout). “Use it every other day in the shower to start, then increase to daily as tolerated,” he says.
Dr. Lortscher also says you can try a benzoyl peroxide cleanser (but be careful, as this ingredient can stain your clothes and bedding!). “Another beneficial ingredient to rotate in to help unclog pores is salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid. A good cleanser option containing salicylic acid is Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash. Rotating these three products throughout the week can prove quite helpful.”
Kim, board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist, adds that a prescription might help: In addition to isotretinoin (Accutane), she prescribes topical retinoids or oral antibiotics, depending on the severity. “I offer a back acne treatment performed by an esthetician that is similar to an acne facial,” she says. Basically, leave the extractions to an expert.
Worth noting: “No treatment is a cure so the aim should be to control acne until your body’s susceptibility to have breakouts passes, which is highly variable based on an individual’s hormones, genetics, and lifestyle,” Dr. Lortscher adds.