Nobody likes getting pimples, whether they’re on your face or your breasts. They’re painful, unattractive, and embarrassing. Acne can happen to anyone at any age, and appear on different parts of your body for a variety of reasons. However, it’s important to remember that it’s treatable, and while uncomfortable, pimples aren’t usually a major health risk.

What Causes Pimples?

Pimples form when a hair follicle gets clogged with sebum or dead skin cells. Sebum is an oil that’s made in glands connected to hair follicles. The sebum travels through hair follicles to help add moisture to your skin and hair. When extra sebum and dead skin cells build up, they block the skin pores and bacteria begin to accumulate. The end result is a pimple. Whitehead pimples form when the follicle wall swells out and blackhead pimples form when the bacteria in a clogged pore become exposed to air.

Certain things can make pimples worse:

  • Genetics. Acne can run in your family.
  • Diet. Some research shows that dairy products might be linked to acne. A 2009 study found a connection between the amount of dairy eaten and the risk of developing acne as well as breast cancer. Chocolate and carbohydrates may also be suspects.
  • Medications, such as corticosteroids.
  • Hormones. In women, pimple outbreaks can be linked to hormonal changes that happen during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Stress. This can add to acne woes.

Treatments

You can treat breast pimples by changing certain habits and using over-the-counter medications, or a combination of the two. Often this is enough to provide relief.

Habits

  • Wash the area twice each day with a mild soap.
  • Wash your hair when it feels oily. If you have long hair that reaches your chest, it could be contributing to pimples.
  • Shower after a workout or heavy sweating.
  • Avoid exposing your chest to the sun.
  • Use sunscreens that are oil-free so they won’t clog pores.
  • Tea tree oil can be bought as a gel or wash and might help to reduce acne.
  • Creams and lotions made with zinc may help cut down on breakouts.
  • Birth control pills. For some women, the hormones in birth control help to regulate acne.
  • Over-the-counter creams and gels with ingredients that include: benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid.

Creams and Home Remedies

Medications

If you don’t get relief from these methods, you might want to see a dermatologist. Dermatologists specialize in skin conditions and treatments, and can help you determine what’s contributing to your breast pimples. They can also prescribe stronger topical medications or oral medications to treat pimples.

What Not to Do

There are some things that can make pimples worse or more irritated. Avoid:

  • Using harsh soaps with ingredients like alcohol, which dries out your skin.
  • Scrubbing too hard.
  • Popping, squeezing, or picking at pimples. This can lead to scars.
  • Staying in sweaty clothing after a workout.

When Should You Worry?

In some cases, pimples on your breasts could be a sign of an infection or a potential warning for breast cancer. For example, in women who are breast-feeding, the appearance of pimple-like bumps may be a sign of a yeast infection. According to the American Cancer Society, skin irritation or dimpling might be an early sign of breast cancer.

If your pimples don’t look like regular acne, are especially painful, or don’t go away with regular at-home or over-the-counter treatments, see your doctor. He or she will be able to evaluate and rule out other, more serious causes.