What causes our chest pimples? Chest acne can be caused by the same factors the rest of our body faces. Pores clogging from sweat, friction from your clothing, increased bacteria on your skin, and lack of skincare can all lead to unwanted breakouts.
Unrelated to weather and lifestyle though, "the most common cause that we see is hormonal," Dr Gary Goldenberg tells Cosmopolitan. "The interesting thing is that hormones are always going up and down unless you're on birth control," he explains. "What happens is that as your hormones fluctuate, which often occurs before, during, and after your menstrual cycle, for example, your hair follicles [aka pores] produce more oil, creating a petri dish for P. acnes [bacterium on the skin] to grow, triggering inflammation, and resulting in a blemish."
Diet can also trigger chest acne, much like it can on your face. While studies have gone back and forth on the relationship between diet and blemishes, the bottom line is: If you're breaking out on your body, it's smart to try and alter what you're eating, especially since certain foods can cause inflammation in your gut that can contribute to the problem.
You're not alone though, chest acne is very common. "The chest is a very common place for acne to form,” dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, M.D. told Women's Health. “Just like on our face, shoulders, or back, the chest’s sebaceous glands can become overloaded with oil, causing clogged pores, which results in inflammation and the formation of pimples or whiteheads.”
It's important to remember, just like your face, your chest requires the same consideration when it comes to skincare.
Here are some ways to banish chest acne.
What are the different types of chest acne?
Like anywhere on the body, a person can suffer from a different number of acne conditions. There are six different types of acne that can occur anywhere on the body, including the chest: blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.
Blackheads are uninfected, clogged follicles that appear as a dark bump on the skin. Whiteheads are clogged follicles covered by a thin layer of skin that appear as white bumps or spots. Papules are inflamed lesions that may appear red, and can be sensitive and painful. Pustules are inflamed lesions that are generally pus-filled. They may appear white or yellow, and popping pustules can lead to acne scarring. Nodules are a severe form of acne lesion that develops under the skin; they don’t generally contain pus but are hard to the touch. Cysts are a severe form of acne lesion that is inflamed and filled with pus. They are generally painful and require professional medical treatment.
It's important to determine which acne you're suffering from on your chest so you can apply the proper treatment.
Here are some of the most effective ways to get rid of chest pimples.
Focus on your post-workout routine
When it comes to workout gear, we're all guilty of choosing aesthetics over practicality. But, if you're experiencing breakouts on your chest, pay close attention to how you're treating your body after a workout as well as what you're putting on your body. Fitted workout gear can cause sweat accumulation and friction that causes breakouts, so switch to breathable fabrics.
6. Check your laundry detergent
If your chest acne is fairly new, it's possible certain chemicals or scents in your detergent could be causing your breakout. The tricky thing is the majority of laundry detergents and fabric softeners include fragrance, even some marketed for babies. So, be extra careful and read the fine print.
Exfoliating off dead skin is just as important for the body as it is for the face. “Exfoliating one to two times a week will buff away dead skin cells that can clog pores and form pimples,” Nussbaum told Women's Health. Try a body scrub with a physical exfoliant.
4. Reach for the toner
Forget everything you think you know about toner. The new wave of toners won't dry out your skin. Toner is best used after cleansing and before applying serums, moisturiser and SPF. Depending on the formula, toner also commonly contains acids (glycolic and salicylic) which remove stubborn dirt and dead skin cells.
3. Try a benzoyl peroxide body wash
Body wash can sometimes get overwhelmed with scents and additives that aren't actually beneficial for you. If you have a serious case of chest acne, benzoyl peroxide is a great way to keep it at bay. Benzoyl peroxide comes in different strengths, but it's suggested you start at 4% and 5% concentration before moving up a formula if your skin doesn't get irritated and your acne hasn't cleared up.
2. Use a spot treatment
Spot treatments can be hugely effective when dealing with small, one-off breakouts. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, available at Mecca, is a great example. "Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is a very effective spot treatment, armed with sulfur, salicylic acid, and calamine—it reduces oiliness and unblocks pores," says dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler. Toothpaste is also an option. Speaking to Huffington Post, Dr Neal Schultz explains, "toothpaste contains certain ingredients — baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, menthol, essential oils, triclosan — that cause pimples to dry out." However, he added that "there are no ingredients in toothpaste that make this method more effective than conventional treatments."
1. Try a salicylic acid cleanser
We've waxed lyrical about the pros of acne-fighting ingredient salicylic acid before and we're about to sing it's praises once more. It's the best pimple-busting ingredient around. A powerful exfoliant that penetrates deep into pores and eliminates blackhead and pimple-causing nasties. Applying a topical skin treatment containing salicylic will unclog and dry out problem pores - discover our favourites here. If you're suffering from extremely painful chest acne, don't be afraid to reach for the aspirin. Aspirin contains salicylic acid and is one of the home remedies that dermatologists recommend, and it even helps reduce pain at the application site. To make an aspirin paste, crush an aspirin with a spoon and swirl it with a few drops of water, creating a paste. Then, apply it directly to the pimple.