Pimples on your breasts are no different than those that appear in other areas. But they may have different causes, such as buildup from hair products. See a healthcare professional if the pimples are painful or accompanied by irritation or dimpling.

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

You can treat breast pimples by changing certain habits and using over-the-counter (OTC) medications, or a combination of the two. Often this is enough to provide relief. Read on to find out home treatments and more.

Try some of these at-home treatments and lifestyle changes to help treat pimples on the breasts:

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

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

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.

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, including:

  • Genetics. Acne can run in families.
  • 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 suspect. Check out how to follow an anti-acne diet.
  • Medications. Medications such as corticosteroids may have an effect on acne.
  • Hormones. In women, pimple outbreaks can be linked to hormonal changes that happen during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Stress. Stress can add to acne woes, not directly causing it but potentially worsening it.

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 breastfeeding, 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 home or OTC treatments, see your healthcare provider. They will be able to evaluate and rule out other, more serious causes.