Why this happens
Although acne treatments are usually discussed for areas like the nose and chin, acne doesn’t just develop on the face. If you’re more prone to acne from risk factors such as hormones or oily skin, you may develop blemishes anywhere on your body — including your chest.
Acne develops when your pores get clogged. Pores exist around your entire body, and your chest is no exception. If you have acne-prone skin, you might see the following types of acne on your chest:
Though chest acne isn’t always as visible as pimples on your face, it can be quite a nuisance. Here are eight ways you can fight chest acne before pimples develop or help clear a breakout after pimples have formed.
1. Shower regularly
If you don’t shower daily, you may develop chest acne more easily. Regular showers help remove elements that block your pores. This includes:
- dead skin cells
- oil (sebum)
To reduce your chances of chest acne, make sure you hit the shower every day. This includes colder and drier months when you may think you don’t need a shower. Use lukewarm (not hot) water for the best results. You can also consider a final rinse in cold water to help close your pores.
2. Use an acne-fighting body wash
Body washes containing salicylic acid are especially helpful for chest acne. Salicylic acid is an ingredient that treats acne by drying it out.
Consider trying out these body washes for chest acne:
- Neutrogena Body Care Body Wash
- ProActiv+ Cleansing Body Bar
- The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash
3. Exfoliate once a week
Your skin goes through a process of cell turnover, where dead skin cells emerge to the surface (epidermis) to make way for new skin cells. But dead skin cells don’t always shed on their own. They can end up staying in your pores and clogging them, leading to acne.
This is where exfoliating can help. The process helps to remove dead skin cells so they don’t clog pores and form acne. You’ll also reveal noticeably smoother skin. The key, though, is to exfoliate no more than once a week — doing this more often will irritate preexisting blemishes.
4. Use a non-comedogenic body lotion
In layman’s terms, “non-comedogenic” simply means non-pore-clogging. This is important when choosing products that stay on your skin all day or night, such as body lotion.
When applied to your chest, non-comedogenic body lotion can help hydrate the skin without causing acne. Some lotions even contain small amounts of salicylic acid to get rid of preexisting breakouts. You may also want to avoid fragrances that can irritate your skin.
Consider the following body lotions:
5. Try spot treatments
Spot treatments can help chest acne breakouts by shrinking pimples and healing the underlying inflammation.
Over-the-counter (OTC) spot treatments abound, and most of these contain either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Of these two ingredients, salicylic acid is preferable because benzoyl peroxide is a notorious for bleaching clothing. There’s a risk of toxicity when salicylic acid is applied to large areas, so make sure you limit it to spot treatments when using it in the chest area.
You can also consider some of the following home and natural remedies. Before applying any remedy on your chest, try a patch test to make sure it doesn’t cause any negative reaction. Choose a small spot on your arm and wait 24 hours to see if any rash or irritation develops.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a widely used alternative skin remedy to treat acne and other conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, products with 5 percent of this oil may work just as well as 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. The key, though, is patience. Tea tree oil works a bit slower than conventional medications.
If you’re wary about trying pure tea tree oil, don’t fret — there are numerous OTC acne products that contain the oil. The Body Shop, for example, offers numerous spot treatment options including topical oils, gels, and wipes.
Cinnamon and honey
Cinnamon and honey can potentially create a powerful acne-fighter when applied to the chest. Cinnamon has antimicrobial capabilities, and raw honey can work as a bacteria-fighting agent. Together, these can reduce bacteria and inflammation that lead to acne. These are safe to use weekly or as needed for new blemishes.
To whip this up, mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of raw honey until it forms a paste. You can apply the mask all over your chest and rinse off after 30 minutes, or you can use it as an overnight spot treatment.
Mud or charcoal
If you’d rather use a natural treatment that’s already made in a bottle, consider a mask that’s made of mud or charcoal. These can work as all-over treatments or they can be used on a few spots on your chest. Both mud and charcoal fight acne by drawing out impurities. These ingredients may also soften your skin at the same time. One example is the Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask. Use once a week for best results.
6. Try a new laundry detergent
Washing your clothes is a must for keeping germs at bay, but if you have oily skin, it can also help prevent acne. However, laundry detergent can sometimes have the opposite effect by causing acne.
This can happen from certain types of detergents that tend to irritate the skin. These include products with fragrances and dyes. When you wear a shirt that’s been washed with allergenic detergents, you could put your chest area and other parts of your body at risk for a breakout.
Look for laundry detergents labeled as “hypoallergenic.” All and Seventh Generation create these types of products.
7. Wear loose and breathable fabrics
Another key to keeping chest acne at bay is to wear clothing that is loose and non-irritating so that your skin can breathe. Tight clothing can trap dirt, bacteria, and oils that can develop into blemishes. Certain fabrics, such as wool, nylon, and spandex, can cause further irritation. Your best bet is to wear cotton clothing.
8. Stay hydrated
Sometimes, acne also requires treatment from the inside. While there’s debate about whether certain foods cause acne, there’s no doubt that drinking water can help. Water not only keeps you hydrated, but it also helps flush out toxins.
You should drink eight glasses of water daily to reap these benefits. Over time, swapping sodas and other beverages for water may lead to an overall reduction in chest acne and an improved skin complexion.
When to see your dermatologist
Acne products can take about 10 weeks to take full effect, so patience is key. If a long period of time passes without any results, it may be time to see your skin care specialist.
Your skin care specialist can help treat chest acne for good by prescribing topical or oral acne medications. Such products are used regularly to help treat and prevent severe acne. In some cases, oral contraceptives may also help women with body acne. Your skin care specialist may prescribe antibiotics to treat severe inflammation related to cysts and other forms of severe acne.
Healthline and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link above.