7 Common Causes of Chest Acne and How to Address It
You’d think that the skin-care gods would cut us some slack and limit pesky pimples to just our faces (or better yet, nowhere at all), but alas, acne can show up anywhere on skin, including our chest. The cause of your chest acne could just be the result of a combination of excess oil and clogged pores — not unlike facial acne — or it could be due to a deeper issue. Ahead, we dive into what causes chest acne and how to stop breakouts before they happen.
Cheat Acne Cause #1: Excessive Sweating
One of the most common reasons for chest acne is sweat lingering on the skin for prolonged periods of time — whether it be due to exercise or heat. When sweat mixes with existing dirt, toxins and oil on the skin’s surface, it can clog the pores, resulting in chest acne. Thus, it’s recommended to shower or, at the very least, rinse off within ten minutes of exercise or excessive sweating.
Chest Acne Cause #2: Reaction to Synthetic Materials or Fabrics
Ill-fitting clothing or clothing made of irritating materials can lead to acne, especially if the skin is particularly sensitive. Acne mechanica it is the result of materials or objects touching your skin and leading to a breakout. The skin condition can also be aggravated by moisture, so if you’re sweating and wearing clothing that doesn’t breathe, a breakout could ensue. Similarly, your chest breakout could be the result of an allergic reaction to a new detergent or cleaning product used on your clothing or sheets. When in doubt, consult a dermatologist.
Chest Acne Cause #3: Hormones
Any major hormonal changes — think: puberty, periods and pregnancy — or fluctuations in the body can send our oil-producing sebaceous glands into overdrive. This can clog pores and potentially lead to chest pimples.
Chest Acne Cause #4: Touching Your Chest
We’ve heard it over and over again: Don’t touch your skin! Our fingertips are covered in oil and bacteria which can extend onto our chests if we touch it too often. If you apply any skin-care products to your chest with your hands, make sure you wash them first and always check the formulas of any products you use on your skin to ensure they are free of irritating ingredients.
Chest Acne Cause #5: Hypersecretion of Oil
When your skin is dry, whether due to whipping winds, cooler temps or prolonged sun exposure, it can cause your skin to go into a sort of survival mode where oil is secreted from your sebaceous glands to make up for that loss of moisture. When excess oil mixes with dead skin cells, bacteria, dirt and debris already on your chest, acne can result. To help counteract this unwanted side effect, make sure your chest is hydrated day in and day out. Many people are guilty of forgetting to extend the hydration below their jaw and are faced with dry body skin, and potentially chest acne.
Chest Acne Cause #6: Genetics
Research has suggested that acne can be passed down from generation to generation. In 2017, dermatologists from the University Hospital of Zurich and the Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at King’s College conducted a worldwide study that sought to shed some light on the link between genes and acne. They found that there were certain irregularities in types of genes that could cause increased chances of getting acne. If your parents have a history of struggling with acne, whether on the chest or elsewhere, you may be more likelihood to experience the same skin-care problem.
Chest Acne Cause #7: Your Skin and Makeup Products
The same way your skin can react to certain fabrics or detergents, makeup products can also cause breakouts. Depending on their ingredients, some products have a higher likelihood of clogging pores and causing breakouts than others. When shopping for new body lotions, moisturizers or concealers, check the label for any one of these keywords: non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, oil-free and “won’t clog pores.”
Triggers That May Worsen Your Chest Acne
Now that you’re aware of the factors that can cause chest acne, allow us to brief you on some of the factors that can make body blemishes worse.
Diet: Studies have shown that your diet may play a pivotal role in the appearance of your skin, with certain foods capable of worsening acne. While these reports are fairly new, it seems apparent that some foods can affect your skin’s appearance or acne.
Stress: Do you ever notice pimples popping up in times of high stress? That’s not a coincidence. According to New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, “Stress can promote inflammation and lead to breakouts of a variety of different skin conditions including acne.” What’s more, “Stress can lead to an increase in hormone levels that cause oil glands to rev up production of pore-clogging sebum, which can cause breakouts.” These chemicals released by the skin’s nerve endings, neuropeptides and neurotransmitters are released at an increased rate as the body reacts to stress. This can lead to skin irritation that may include acne. If you notice your skin is acting up as a result of stress, Dr. Zeichner suggests using products formulated with salicylic acid. “This beta-hydroxy acid helps exfoliate dead cells from the surface of the skin as well as remove excess oil, which can help prevent breakouts,” he says. “Even if you are not using the ingredient regularly, you can switch out your cleanser for one that’s formulated with salicylic acid during times of stress.”
Common Myths About Chest Acne
If you’re dealing with chest acne, there’s a good chance you’ve heard a myth or two along the way. To help ensure you’re taking the proper steps toward a bright and clear complexion, we took the liberty of debunking six popular chest acne myths.
Myth #1: Chest Breakouts Arise Solely From Bad Hygiene
While it’s true that chest acne may result from waiting too long to take a shower post-sweating, it is not caused by dirty skin. Even those who stick to a perfect routine can still battle breakouts on the chest area.
Myth #2: You Should Pop Chest Pimples
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Pimples — no matter where they surface — should never be popped as it can worsen the problem and potentially lead to scarring. If the damage has already been done, be sure to care for the affected area post-pop.
Myth #3: Showering With Hot Water Can Help Kill Acne-Causing Bacteria
Hot water won’t kill acne-causing bacteria. In fact, it can wreak havoc on your skin and cause unwanted dryness. Instead, shower with lukewarm water and follow up with a moisturizer while your skin is still slightly damp.
Myth #4: You Should Leave Your Chest Acne Alone
Refraining from taking any action in addressing your chest acne is the wrong mindset to have. With so many topical solutions out there, why not take advantage of them?
Myth #5: Acne Treatments Can Clear Acne Overnight
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by assuming that your acne-fighting products will zap away zits within hours. Topical treatments for acne typically take between four and eight weeks to show results. If you don’t see a difference in your body acne in at least eight weeks, schedule a consultation with your dermatologist for a different course of action.
Myth #6: Sun Tanning Can Help Clear Chest Acne
Sun tanning and tanning beds aren’t doing your skin any favors. Avoid tanning and be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Myth #7: Exfoliating Will Kick Acne to the Curb
Exfoliation is certainly a key component to skin maintenance — especially because it aids in the removal of dead skin cells to help unclog pores — but if you’re already dealing with chest breakouts, it may not be the right step to take. Scrubbing your skin can irritate it even more and in some cases, further dry out your skin. Exfoliation should be part of your acne prevention plan to keep your skin clear of pore-clogging dead cells and debris, but your acne treatment plan can likely do without the harsh scrubs.
Myth #8: All Acne Scars Are Permanent
Acne scarring is a real concern for those battle acne. The severity of scarring may differ depending on a variety of factors, however, just because a scar is severe doesn’t mean it’s permanent. Treatments for scarred skin can include chemical peels, microdermabrasion, lasers, retinoids and more. If you’re concerned about the look of your acne scars, visit your skin-care provider for assistance.
Myth #9: Chest Acne Can’t Always be Addressed
Even if your skin is prone to acne, as frustrating as it can be, don’t lose hope. There’s a way to get your chest acne under control; it’s all a matter of doing your research and finding what products and skin-care routine work best for you. Should your condition not improve, you can always consult a dermatologist to see what treatment they recommend.
How to Help Reduce the Appearance of Chest Acne
Eager to eliminate your chest acne? Board-certified dermatologist Lisa Ginn, MD, likes to use topical products formulated with sulfur to address acne, in addition to other acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
Another option for helping to reduce acne flares on the chest area? Turning to AcneFree’s Body Clearing Acne Spray. Formulated with glycolic acid, vitamin B3, salicylic acid and aloe, this non-sticky spray formula helps clear body breakouts. For best practices, cleanse the skin thoroughly before applying and use once a day to start. You can always increase use to twice daily, if needed.