Expert Tips for Addressing Shoulder Acne
Dealing with shoulder acne? We’re here to help you address this common skin concern once and for all. Although these breakouts can be difficult to manage, you can still address them with a targeted skin care routine for acne-prone skin. Ahead, we’re sharing a simple guide on how to stop breakouts and get rid of shoulder acne.
On the list of annoying spots acne can appear (if such a list exists), we imagine shoulder acne would be right there next to butt acne. The bright side is that acne in this hard-to-reach area is not impossible to deal with. While not your run-of-the-mill facial breakout, shoulder acne can be addressed similar to how one would approach facial acne. The key? Start a targeted routine at the first sign of shoulder acne. For tips on how to stop breakouts and get rid of shoulder acne, we turned to our panel of consulting experts. Read on for more advice.
WHAT CAUSES SHOULDER ACNE?
Shoulder acne, while still acne, has little to do with facial acne. In other words, you can have acne on your shoulders—and other parts of your body—and not battle a facial breakout at the same time, or at all.
“Acne can develop almost anywhere on the body,” said board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Elizabeth B. Houshmand (@houshmandmd). “It is not only on the face. Acne on the shoulders is seen in both men and women but more commonly in men.” While gender can play a role in this stubborn body acne, there are other factors that come into play as well.
Here are some of the common causes of shoulder acne:
Shoulder Acne Cause #1: Not showering right after a workout.
If you’re taking too long to cleanse the dirt, sweat, and grime from your body after a killer sweat sesh, you’re taking a fast route to shoulder acne. After hitting the gym, be sure to hop in the shower and rinse off within 10 minutes. “When you have acne on your body, but not on your face, it’s often caused by waiting too long to shower after working out,” says board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Lisa Ginn. Follow these steps for a solid post-workout skin care routine.
Shoulder Acne Cause #2: Friction from sports equipment.
It’s so common for athletes to get acne from their sports equipment that there’s actually a name for it: “acne mechanica." Anything that rubs the skin—from backpacks to synthetic uniforms—and traps sweat and heat on your skin can cause irritation and acne to form. To help prevent flare-ups, try placing clean padding between the equipment and your skin to help prevent rubbing. That, and stick to clothes that fit more loosely.
Shoulder Acne Cause #3: Not washing your clothes after sweating.
Sweat, dirt, and other bacteria can stick to your clothes if you don’t wash them after a sweat session. Make a habit of tossing your dirty laundry into the wash after every workout. Also, bring a change of clothes with you if you plan to sweat profusely. Sitting in your sweaty clothing for too long can cause body acne to form. “Get out of gym clothes or anything sweaty as soon as possible,” Dr. Houshmand says. “The faster the sweat evaporates, the less likely you will be to develop bumps.”
Shoulder Acne Cause #4: Bacterial infection
According to board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Ted Lain, one major cause of shoulder acne is a bacterial infection. This can occur due to a variety of factors, including not cleansing properly, not exfoliating, and dirt or impurities going deep into your pores.
Shoulder Acne Cause #5: Hormones
A review by The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (JCAD) showed that due to an increase in sebum production from hormone fluctuations, adolescent women going through puberty are the most prone to a variety of forms of acne, which can include body acne.
HOW TO HELP CLEAR SHOULDER ACNE
If shoulder acne has made a home on the surface of your skin, here’s how you can help safely clear those blemishes:
Tip #1: Use anti-bacterial soaps and body washes.
As far as body wash goes, the fresh smell of lavender is a popular shower pick. But if your skin is sensitive, using products formulated with fragrances may cause irritation. Skincare.com consultant and SkinCeuticals ambassador, Dr. Laura Holsey, recommends anti-bacterial soaps and body washes instead. “To help clear shoulder acne, I always recommend using an antibacterial soap and an exfoliant such as SkinCeuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub,” she says. “If patients continue to have problems, I recommend adding SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense to their problem areas.”
Tip #2: Cleanse with benzoyl peroxide.
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most popular acne-fighting ingredients in skin care products because it helps kill the bacteria responsible for blemishes. You can find it in face washes, creams, gels, spot treatments and more. If using a benzoyl peroxide wash, let the product sit on your blemishes for a few minutes before rinsing. The skin on the shoulders(?) is thicker so this tactic helps for better penetration.
Editor’s note: Benzoyl peroxide can dry out your skin, so be sure to follow up with a layer of moisturizer that’s formulated for your skin type. To prevent unwanted dryness, be sure to use the product of your choice as directed and not in tandem with other acne-fighting ingredients.
Tip #3: Try an acne-fighting body spray.
Shoulders aren’t the most easily accessible part of the body, which is why acne sprays come in handy for targeting blemish zones that are hard to reach. We recommend turning to AcneFree’s Body Clearing Acne Spray. It’s formulated with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin B3, and aloe to help clear body breakouts. Plus, you can count on it to dry fast without leaving behind a sticky residue. Since salicylic acid can be drying, it’s best not to use it while using other acne-fighting products. Stick to one at a time.
If symptoms persist, don’t hesitate to visit an expert. “There are medications that can be prescribed to help clear acne,” Dr. Holsey advises. “It is important to establish a relationship with a dermatologist or medical aesthetician to help guide treatment protocols that can control acne breakouts and accelerate results.”
Tip #4: Exfoliate your skin.
“It is crucial to gently remove the buildup of skin cells on your shoulders by exfoliating when you shower,” says Dr. Houshmand. Dr. Lain also recommends using products that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) or beta hydroxy acids (BHA), which are chemical exfoliators. These ingredients help gently slough away any dirt, grime, or buildup from your skin’s surface.
Tip #5: Don’t pick at your bumps.
This may sound like a given, but it’s much easier said than done. Picking at your pimples will only worsen their appearance, and can lead to infection. If you feel like you’ve exhausted all options, don’t resort to picking at your skin. “Instead, see a board-certified dermatologist for help with acne that won’t resolve,” Dr. Houshmand advises.
Tip #6: Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Sunscreen is a necessity for protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, yet many people still tend to forget to apply it all over their bodies. No matter what time of the year it is, Dr. Houshmand recommends applying sunscreen daily on your shoulders, face, and any other areas of exposed skin. “You’ll want to make sure you’re protecting your skin with a non-comedogenic sunscreen,” she says. “If you have oily skin and are prone to blemishes make sure your sunscreen is also oil-free.”