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Acne on the Back of the Neck

author image Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.
Acne on the Back of the Neck
Acne Photo Credit ron sumners/iStock/Getty Images

Acne can be unsightly and uncomfortable, but having it on the back of your neck can be particularly troublesome. Though common in teenagers, it can persist into adulthood for both men and women. It is most common in those who are physically active and sweat a lot, as the neck is where much sweat accumulates. You can treat your neck acne by modifying a few habits and taking the appropriate steps to treat blemishes.


Acne can appear in a variety of forms from blackheads to large cysts. On the neck, you'll most often notice pustules, which are red and inflamed lesions filled with pus. Other forms of acne common to the neck include whiteheads and cysts. Whiteheads are mild and generally go away with over-the-counter treatments, while cysts penetrate deep into the skin and can scar if left untreated. Any acne that appears on the neck will likely be more deeply rooted, because the skin is thicker than on the face. The likelihood of scarring, however, is reduced because the skin isn't quite so thin and fragile.

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Having long hair that constantly touches your neck could contribute to neck acne because the hair contains oil, which can clog your pores. Likewise, using hair products could lead to breakouts on the neck because they can gunk up on the scalp and skin. You might wish to stay away from gel, mousse and some conditioners to prevent acne, as they contain oils. At the very least, take care that these substances don't get on your neck during application. Washing your hair every day or every other day can help reduce acne from sprouting up on your neck due to oily hair.

Causal Factors

Some people might touch or rub the back of the neck distractedly, but this habit might be causing your breakouts. Your hands and fingernails can be dirty and touching your neck can introduce bacteria and oil there, clogging your pores and resulting in blemishes. If you don't change your pillowcases often enough, they might also contribute to your breakouts, as oil and dirt from your hair can build up and transfer to your neck each night. Lotions, shampoos and detergents with strong fragrances and dyes may also irritate your skin and should be avoided.


Treat acne on the back of your neck much as you would acne on any other part of your body. Over-the-counter cleansers and creams containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help dry up your blemishes, kill bacteria and unclog your pores. Your neck is sensitive and it may need extra care to prevent overdrying and future breakouts, so always follow your treatment with an oil-free moisturizer to keep skin supple.


Preventing new blemishes is key to maintaining healthy skin. To do this, avoid touching your neck, thoroughly cleanse and medicate the area daily, pull your hair up off your neck during the day if it's oily, wash your bedding each week with fragrance and dye-free detergents and avoid using oily hair products that could clog your pores.

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