You might be familiar with facial acne because it is the most common. However, acne may also appear in other areas, for example, the back, chest and shoulders. Acne occurs when bacteria, dead skin cells, oil and other impurities are trapped in the pores and hair follicles, causing increased inflammation and sometimes an infection. If you're experiencing acne on the shoulders and wondering how to get rid of shoulder acne, this guide will tips that will make that happen. Keep reading to find out.
What is Shoulder Acne?
Shoulder acne is any type of acne that appears on the shoulder. They are often classified as similar to facial acne, but they are often accompanied by scarring and oily skin. While acne can appear anywhere in the body, it tends to concentrate on areas like shoulders where there is a higher density of oil and sweat glands as well as hair follicles. The hair follicles and pores on your shoulders are more significant than those on your face, and the skin is exceptionally thick, heightening the chances of oil and dirt being trapped and clogging pores, in turn causing breakouts.
What Are The Causes of Shoulder Acne?
Although acne, in general, is mainly found in teenagers due to the hormonal changes they experience with puberty, it can also affect different people of different ages. While acne is something you can get on your whole body, there are several things that may make shoulder acne too become worse. So, here are some of the causes of shoulder acne;
1. Excess Sebaceous Secretions
During puberty, the sebaceous glands tend to produce a bit more sebum than usual. Furthermore, some diseases like Parkinson's disease and some hormonal medications like progesterone, phenothiazine and testosterone are also known to increase sebum production. As a result, the dead skin cells, excess sebum, as well as other debris may block a pore, causing acne lesions, and when inflammation occurs, it may lead to inflammatory lesions.
2. Shampoo & Conditioner
The products you use on your hair can also contribute to body acne. This is because the oils from hair products may clog pores as they are running. To prevent body breakouts, rinse the shampoo and conditioner off to the side and wash your body thoroughly to remove any lingering residue of shampoo or conditioner.
Hair on its own is also a common cause of shoulder acne. This is because it will naturally produce oil that can easily transfer to your shoulders and clog the pores on the skin surface. Later on, these clogged pores may become irritated and cause shoulder acne to appear.
3. Sweaty & Tight Fitting Clothes
Tight-fitting clothes may trap bacteria and sweat on the skin, causing clogged pores and body breakouts. The rubbing of clothes to the skin while working out may also cause skin irritation because of too much heat and sweat. Poor hygiene is also a common cause. As a result, you should always have loose-fitting gym clothes while working out and ensure you remove them right after finishing the workout.
4. Dirty Bathing Accessories
Another common cause of acne is using dirty and the wrong bathing accessories. Moist bath brushes or damp towels are the breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Ensure all the bathing accessories are clean and use the proper body wash to avoid shoulder breakouts.
Before taking any medication, it is crucial to understand the side effects. Some medications will cause the formation of acne. So, if this bothers you, visit your doctor and consult if there are alternative medicines that would not cause acne.
Types of Shoulder Acne
It is crucial to note that not shoulder acne will look the same. This is because there are different types and forms of shoulder acne, including;
1. Acne Mechanica
This is a type of acne that is caused by outside forces like pressure, heat, and friction. For instance, if you notice that shoulder or facial acne starts forming after wearing tight clothes or a backpack all day, it is most likely that acne mechanica is the cause. However, acne mechanica is not similar to acne vulgaris. Acne vulgaris occurs as a result of hormones and other internal things like overactive sebaceous glands.
2. Keratosis Pilaris
These are harmless red bumps that will often appear on the upper thighs or back of the arms. They are caused by dead skin cells that clog the hair follicle. Although this is not considered as one of the main types of acne, the use of topical retinoids is known to improve this condition too.
Also known as open comedones, whiteheads are small bumps that are formed by the build-up of oil and keratin that is naturally produced by the body. They are normally covered by a thin layer of skin.
Blackheads also referred to as closed comedones, will occur as a result of clogged pores. They have a dark color mainly because of the oxidation of keratin and melanin
These are small red bumps that are less than one centimeter in diameter and do not have a clear head.
These are red bumps that are filled with pus or any other fluid under the skin caused by the build-up of dirt, debris, oils, and other impurities.
How To Get Rid Of Shoulder Acne
When looking for tips on how to get rid of acne, you have probably come across a good number of ways to treat acne that you can use. Some of them include;
1. Home Remedies
These are things that you can do at home to help reduce acne or the pain that comes with acne;
a). Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oils are widely available in grocery stores and pharmacies. Furthermore, most over-the-counter skincare products will have tea tree oil as one of their ingredients. Studies have shown that using a skincare product made of tea tree oil, aloe vera, or propolis is more effective in reducing and preventing acne rather than using an antibiotic.
b). Apple Cider Vinegar
The components in apple cider vinegar may help fight the bacteria that causes acne. However, if you choose to use apple cider vinegar, you should remember it is acidic, which means it may burn or sting the skin. Always dilute the ACV with three times the amount of water before applying it over your skin.
c). Warm Compress
Once a whitehead has formed, applying a warm compress to deep and painful pimples will improve the healing process. Soak a clean towel or cloth in hot water but ensure the water is not very hot to burn your skin. Once the cloth is well soaked, apply and compress it on the pimples for about 15 minutes. Repeat this process three to four times a day until the pus or liquid comes out.
d). Oatmeal Bath
Generally, oatmeals, specifically colloidal oats, have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, which are suitable for dry and itchy skin. In addition, having an oatmeal bath may help calm the shoulder acne.
2. Over The Counter Medication
If the home remedies don't work, you can try using an over-the-counter skincare product. For example, benzoyl peroxide will help kill the bacteria that are in the pores. As a result, you should consider a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment or wash. Other OTC treatments may include topical adapalene (Differin) and salicylic acid.
3. Prescribed Medication
When both OTC treatments and home remedies don't work for you, you can consider visiting a dermatologist for prescription medication that may include topical retinoids, topical creams, antibiotics or prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide. Some birth control pills may also be used to control acne as they have progestin and estrogen.
Spironolactone and Isotretinoin are other options used to clear body acne. However, these two may come with side effects, for example, mood changes and severe congenital disabilities when taken while pregnant. Hormone therapy will also reduce help reduce some common hormones that cause body acne.
Additional Methods of How To Get Rid Of Shoulder Acne
1. Re-evaluate Your Shower Products
Creamy shower gels might not be able to thoroughly cleanse your skin to remove the excess oil and dirt. Instead, it is vital to use an acne treatment that has ingredients like glycolic acid, which dissolves dead skin cells to prevent acne scars, lactic acid that prevents pimples and smoothens the skin, and salicylic acid that helps unblock clogged pores.
2. Regularly Cleanse and Exfoliate
Cleanse and gently massage the skin using a good cleanser and cleansing tool to remove all the impurities and keep the pores clean. Gently exfoliating and cleansing the skin will help clear acne.
While adding oil to acne-prone skin may seem contradictory, this is a step that you shouldn't miss. Moisturizing will help keep the skin's moisture barrier intact and protect the pores from dirt, bacteria, and other irritants. When it comes to getting the best moisturizer for your acne, go for a lightweight lotion that will not only keep your skin hydrated but also keep the oil balance in check.
4. Spot Treat Blemishes
It is essential to apply spot treatments on your shoulder and back acne the same you do for facial acne. Products that contain salicylic acid are best used for blemishes treatment, help unclog pores, and prevent breakouts from reappearing, helping maintain clear skin. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid is gentle and won't bleach your clothes.
5. Watch Your Diet
Cutting out highly processed foods and sugars and consuming plant-based meals may help treat and prevent body acne. Check the ingredients and find options with fewer ingredients or, better still, stick to whole foods. Reducing stress and improving your nutrition may do wonders for shoulder and back acne.
Other important tips include;
- Use a water-soluble cleanser, and remember your face washes might not treat shoulder acne.
- Clean up right after a workout and also clean the sports equipment
- Avoid hot showers if you struggle with dry skin or severe acne. Keep showers short and stick to lukewarm water.
- Protect your body from the sun
- Never pop or pick your pimples
- Change your bedsheets and pillowcases often
- Never skip your daily skincare routine
- Use the proper acne treatment
How Do You Prevent Shoulder Acne?
As the saying normally goes, prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, there is only a little you can do to prevent acne on the shoulders, especially if it is caused by hormonal changes or other body changes. Despite this, here is what you can do to prevent acne on your shoulders.
- Wearing lightweight and breathable clothing that is made from natural fibers.
- Use sunscreen to avoid sun damage on your skin.
- Choose products that go with your type of skin. For example, for people with dry skin types, moisturizing products are recommended.
- Avoid scratching the skin as it will only irritate the spot and introduce bacterial and dirt in existing breakouts.
- Drink plenty of water to help prevent flare-ups from occurring.
- If you have sensitive skin, consider fragrance-free skincare products to prevent body acne.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Shoulder Acne
1. How long will it take to get rid of shoulder acne?
You can never expect an acne treatment to work overnight. Most body acne treatments require approximately four to six weeks before they give results. However, the period at which a product can treat acne varies depending on a number of factors like individual body, skin type, treatment methods and how well you take care of your skin. Taking progress pictures along the way will help determine the effectiveness of the treatment. Always be patient.
2. What is the best way to treat shoulder acne?
Whichever treatment method you're using on your body, remember consistency is the key. A regular skincare routine with an appropriate daily cleanser, followed by a chemical exfoliant that has salicylic acid and then benzoyl peroxide. Add a lightweight moisturizer once you're done with the treatment, especially if you're experiencing dry skin.