Pimples are a common skin condition for people of all ages. While pimples on the face, back, neck, chest, and shoulders are more common, pimples can occur on the arms as well.
If you find red bumps or pustules on your arm, there’s a good chance that you have a typical pimple on your arm. However, it could be an indication of a more serious underlying condition.
A pimple, a symptom of acne, is caused by the opening of a pore. This allows bacteria, dead skin, or oil to enter the pore, which can then trigger a response from your body.
Your body begins to fight the foreign substances in your pore, and that’s what causes a red bump to form. Sometimes the red bump will form a pus-filled head.
Our skin can be very sensitive. This means that there are many causes and contributing factors to pimples on the arms. The National Institutes of Health reports that every four out of five people have been affected by acne in their teens and early adult life.
Common causes of pimples include:
- Hormonal change or imbalance. During puberty, a teen’s body is going through many hormonal changes. An increase in hormones can cause the body to create more natural body oils. These oils contribute to creating pimples or acne.
- Hygiene. If you aren’t following a proper skin care routine, you may find more pimples are making an appearance. When you wash your body, you’re removing dead skin cells and oil. If you aren’t washing your body frequently enough, the dead skin can build up and cause more pimples.
- Skin products. While good hygiene is important, some skin care products can cause pimples to occur. If you’re using a product that clogs your pores, you’ll notice an increase in skin issues.
- Tight clothing. Sweat can clog your pores and cause pimples to pop up. If you’re wearing tight clothing, your sweat has nowhere to go; avoid wearing tight clothing if possible. If you must wear tight clothing, be sure to remove the clothing and wash your body when you’ve finished your activity.
Treating a pimple on your arm is pretty simple. A pimple normally heals on its own, but if you have a large number of pimples on your arm, you may want to consider prescribed treatment from a dermatologist. If you don’t already have a dermatologist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Here are some tips to help a pimple heal:
- Don’t touch the pimple. The oil and bacteria from your hands can cause further infection.
- Avoid the sun, because sun exposure triggers your skin to produce oil that may cause more acne.
- Use over-the-counter anti-acne lotion or creams that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. But note that while these items may clear your acne, they could also cause your skin to dry out.
- Keep the area clean, but don’t over-wash. Over-washing may cause irritation that makes a pimple appear more red or swollen.
- Don’t pop or squeeze your pimple. This can increase irritation and, eventually, scarring.
Pimples are very common! The good thing about that is that there are plenty of ways you can prevent pimples from occurring. Some common ways to prevent pimples include:
- washing skin after physical activity
- washing after preparing oily food
- implementing a regular skin regimen
- avoiding oily skin products or over-moisturizing
If you have a bump on your arm, it’s likely to be a pimple. However, there are other skin conditions that can look like pimples.
Keratosis pilaris appears as small, rough bumps. They may have a slight pink ring around them. They’re caused by excess keratin which plugs up hair follicles. You can treat this by moisturizing or using steroid creams.
Hives can appear as red, raised bumps. If your bumps are itchy, they may be hives rather than pimples. Hives are caused by stress or an allergic reaction and will usually go away on their own.
Pyogenic granuloma are smooth, red bumps that appear on the skin. These bumps bleed easily. The cause of them is currently unknown, but they usually go away on their own. Serious cases are treated by surgery, lasers, or creams.
Staph infections are usually caused by skin-to-skin contact with someone infected with the staphylococcus bacteria. This is a serious infection and needs to be treated by a medical professional.
While pimples on your arm, or anywhere on your body, can be embarrassing, the good news is that they usually go away on their own. Often, they can be prevented by implementing a good skin care routine and washing after physical activity or anything that causes oil to build up on your skin.
If the pimples — or what appear to be pimples — on your arm are severe or are causing you stress, be sure to consult a dermatologist for treatment.