Breaking Up with Chest Acne For Good

Aly Walansky
Woman in towel


We all freak out when we end up with breakouts on our face right before a hot date or big event, because of course, that’s when those evil pimples always happen to pop up. But when that acne appears elsewhere, it can be a total blindside. It turns out though, that the chest is a very common place for acne to form, especially during summer heat waves. We spoke to some experts to find out exactly what causes it and how to get rid of chest acne for good.

Just like on our face or shoulders and back, our chest can harbor clogged pores courtesy of excess oil (thanks, nature!) resulting in inflammation and the formation of pimples or whiteheads, says Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a New York-based dermatologist. If you work out a lot, excessive sweat mixes with your body’s essential oils and can clog your pores. Tight clothing that doesn’t allow the skin to breath can also contribute to chest acne. The clothes will rub against your skin, spreading oil and bacteria.

MORE: How to Get Rid of Acne on Your Backside 

Treat them as you would any other pimple:
“Breakouts on the back or shoulders (AKA folliculitis) are caused by the same mechanism that causes whiteheads on the face,” says Clearasil’s dermatologist, Dr. Dendy Engelman. Because of this, treatments and ingredients are the same for facial acne. “Just be careful of benzoyl peroxide containing products as they can bleach fabrics. Medicated wipes treated with salicylic acid are a safe and effective way to treat a large body surface area without putting your favorite piece of clothing at risk,” says Dr. Engelman.

MORE: How to Get Rid of Acne: Everything You Need to Know for the Clearest Skin Possible

Hands off:
When you constantly pick and touch your skin during the day, you are likely spreading bacteria and other nasty stuff from your fingertips right into your pores. Picking can also break the skin and cause the breakout to spread, says Allison Tray of Tres Belle Spa in New York City.

Keep clean:
Cleanse in the morning and the evening to remove sweat and also pollution from the environment that gets into pores. Make it a ritual to use a cleansing wipe to wipe your back and chest before going to bed. If it becomes a habit, you’ll never forget.

After exercising or sweating, jump in the shower immediately to prevent the pores from clogging.  If you can’t get to a shower, changing out of your sweaty clothes and wiping down your chest will suffice for the time, says Dr. Nussbaum. Also try to exfoliate 1-2 times a week and wear loose fitting and breathable clothes – cotton is best because it lets the most air in and out, where material like polyester traps in the heat and sweat.

Zits crave attention:
Often, we obsess so much when we have a pimple or breakout that it stresses us out and heightens anxiety. Clean the area in the morning and night and chill out about it, advises Tray.