Acne is a problem that plagues millions of people worldwide, and it can show up on different parts of the body in different people. Acne on the shoulder is a particularly troublesome form of acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, shoulder acne is most common in teenagers and young adults.
While shoulder acne is not a serious medical condition, it can cause great discomfort and emotional distress. The good news is that There are many ways to treat shoulder acne, including over-the-counter, prescription medications, topical treatments, and natural remedies.
The best treatment option for you will depend on the severity of your condition and the underlying causes of your acne.
This article aims to provide helpful information on the causes of shoulder acne, treatment options, and prevention tips.
What is Shoulder acne?
Shoulder acne is a common skin condition that occurs when the hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It can occur on the back, chest, or shoulders. Acne is most common in adolescents and young adults, but it can affect people of all ages.
Causes of shoulder acne
There are different types of shoulder acne, and each type requires a different approach to treatment. The most common types of shoulder acne include:
There are several different types of shoulder acne. The most common type is called comedonal acne. This type of shoulder acne is characterized by small, flesh-colored bumps called papules. These papules can sometimes become larger and more inflamed, forming pimples. This type of acne is caused by a build-up of oil and dead skin cells in the pores. The shoulder area is particularly prone to this type of acne because it is often covered by tight clothing that doesn’t allow the skin to breathe. Open comedones are commonly known as blackheads, while closed comedones are known as whiteheads.
Inflammatory shoulder acne
Another type of shoulder acne is inflammatory shoulder acne. This type of shoulder acne is characterized by red, inflamed pimples. These pimples are caused by a build-up of oil, dead skin cells, and pore bacteria. Inflammatory shoulder acne can be very painful and can sometimes lead to scarring.
Hormonal acne is another common type of shoulder acne. This type of shoulder acne is more common in women than men and usually occurs around the time of puberty, during pregnancy, or menopause. An increase in hormones called androgens causes hormonal acne. These hormones cause the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to clogged pores and shoulder acne.
Cystic acne is the most severe form of shoulder acne. This type of shoulder acne is characterized by large, red, and inflamed bumps called cysts that form deep beneath the skin’s surface. Cystic acne is caused by a build-up of oil and dead skin cells in the pores, leading to an infection. This type of shoulder acne can be very painful and leave permanent scars.
Shoulder acne can also be caused by certain medications, such as birth control pills, steroids, and testosterone replacement therapy. Acne can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and adrenal gland disorders.
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Shoulder acne treatment
#1: Benzoyl peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is a commonly used over-the-counter medication for shoulder acne. It works by killing the bacteria that cause shoulder acne and by helping to shed dead skin cells. Benzoyl peroxide is available in different strengths, from 2.5% to 10%. It is important to start with a lower strength and increase the strength if needed. Higher strengths are more likely to cause side effects, such as redness, dryness, and peeling.
You can find benzoyl peroxide in many forms, such as a gel, lotion, cream, or wash.
How to use benzoyl peroxide to treat shoulder acne:
- Wash your hands and the affected area with soap and water.
- Dry the area thoroughly.
- Apply a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide cream, gel, or lotion to the affected area and rub it in gently.
- Leave on for the time recommended by the manufacturer, typically 10 minutes.
- Rinse off with cool water and pat dry.
- Repeat this process once or twice a day, depending on your tolerance.
It is important to note that benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics and hair, so take care not to get it on your clothes or hairline when using this for shoulder acne. Also, avoid exposure to sunlight while using benzoyl peroxide, as it may increase your risk of sunburn.
#2: Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is one of the most effective treatments for shoulder acne. It helps to unclog pores and get rid of dead skin cells. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the redness and swelling of shoulder acne. You can find shoulder acne products that contain salicylic acid at most drugstores or online.
If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these shoulder acne treatments with salicylic acid:
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser
- Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
When used properly, products with salicylic acid can be very effective at treating shoulder acne. When using a product with salicylic acid, be sure to read the instructions carefully. Just remember to start slow and increase frequency gradually to avoid irritating your skin. So, If you opt to purchase a product, look for one that contains at least 2% salicylic acid.
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To use Salicylic acid gel for shoulder acne:
- Wash the affected area with a mild cleanser and pat dry.
- Apply a pea-sized amount of gel to the shoulder acne area.
- Gently massage the gel into the skin using circular motions.
- Allow the gel to dry, and then apply a moisturizer if needed.
Repeat this process once or twice a day until the shoulder acne clears up. You may need to continue using the gel even after the shoulder acne goes away to prevent it from coming back.
#3: Tea tree oil
The 3rd shoulder acne treatment is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it an effective treatment for shoulder acne. Tea tree oil helps to unclog pores and kill the bacteria that cause shoulder acne. Tea tree oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to a moisturizer or soap. For best results, it is important to use a tea tree oil that is 100% pure and organic. You can find tea tree oil at most health food stores or online.
Tea tree oil is not recommended for pregnant women or people with sensitive skin. If you experience any irritation, stop using the oil and consult your doctor.
To use tea tree oil for shoulder acne:
You can use tea tree oil for shoulder acne in several ways.
Method 1: Tea Tree Oil Toner
You will need:
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of witch hazel
- One teaspoon of tea tree oil
- Mix together the water, witch hazel, and tea tree oil in a bowl.
- Pour the mixture into a clean, empty spray bottle.
- Cleanse the skin with a mild cleanser and pat dry.
- Spray the toner onto a cotton ball or pad.
- Gently wipe the cotton ball or pad over the shoulder acne area.
- Allow the toner to dry, and then apply a moisturizer if needed.
- Repeat this process once or twice a day until the shoulder acne clears up.
Method 2: Tea Tree Oil Spot Treatment
You will need:
- 1/2 teaspoon of water
- 1/2 teaspoon of aloe vera gel
- One drop of tea tree oil
- Mix together the water, aloe vera gel, and tea tree oil in a bowl.
- Dip a cotton swab into the mixture.
- Gently apply the cotton swab to the shoulder acne area.
- Allow the mixture to dry, and then apply a moisturizer if needed.
Method 3: Tea Tree Oil Soap
You will need:
- 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap
- 1/4 cup of water
- One teaspoon of tea tree oil
- Mix together the liquid castile soap, water, and tea tree oil in a bowl.
- Pour the mixture into a clean, empty soap dispenser.
- Wet the skin and massage the soap into the shoulder acne area.
- Rinse the soap off with warm water.
- Pat the skin dry.
#4: Apply a shoulder acne mask
If you want to get rid of shoulder acne fast, you should try using a shoulder acne mask. Look for a mask containing sulfur, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil. These ingredients will help to unclog pores and dry up excess oil.
There are many different masks available on the market, so be sure to choose one that is suited for your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a gentle mask that is free of harsh chemicals.
It is important to read the ingredients list before purchasing a shoulder acne mask to ensure that it contains beneficial ingredients for your skin type.
To apply a shoulder acne mask:
- Start by washing your face and shoulders with a gentle cleanser. Dry your skin with a towel, and then apply the mask to your shoulders.
- Leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes or as directed on the packaging. Rinse the mask off with warm water and pat your skin dry.
- Apply a shoulder acne mask once or twice a week to help keep shoulder breakouts under control.
Some other shoulder ache home remedies:
Rest and ice: Apply ice to your shoulder for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This will help reduce inflammation.
Heat: After the first few days, you can switch to heat to soothe your muscles and promote blood flow. Try a heating pad set on low or a warm shower.
Elevate: Keep your shoulder elevated above heart level as much as possible. This will help reduce swelling.
Exercise: Gently stretch and move your shoulder to keep it limber. Avoid any activity that causes pain.
Sleep: Sleep with a pillow under your arm to keep your shoulder elevated.
Get a massage: Try a gentle massage to loosen tight muscles.
Apply topical treatments: You can try over-the-counter creams or ointments to help relieve pain.
See your doctor: If home remedies don’t relieve your pain, make an appointment to see your doctor. They may recommend other treatments, such as physical therapy or corticosteroid injections.
How to prevent shoulder acne
1. Keep your shoulder clean
Be sure to shower after working out or sweating. Gently wash your shoulder with a mild cleanser and pat the skin dry.
2. Wear loose-fitting clothing
Tight clothing can irritate the skin and trap sweat and dirt on the surface of the skin. Opt for loose-fitting, breathable fabrics instead.
3. Avoid touching your shoulder
Touching or picking at your shoulder can spread bacteria and cause more breakouts. If you do touch your shoulder, be sure to wash your hands afterward.
4. Use non-comedogenic product
Non-comedogenic means that a product will not clog pores. Look for this label when choosing makeup, lotions, and sunscreens.
5. Keep your hair off your shoulder
When possible, keep your hair pulled back away from your shoulder. If you have bangs, be sure to sweep them away from your forehead, so they don’t fall on your shoulder during the day.
6. Choose shoulder acne treatments wise
Be sure to select shoulder acne treatments that are suited for your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, opt for gentle, natural treatments.
With these tips in mind, you can help prevent shoulder breakouts and keep your skin looking and feeling its best.
Best foods to relieve shoulder acne
There are a few foods that can help relieve shoulder acne. Foods that are high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, can help fight inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and nuts, can also help reduce inflammation. Dairy products and processed foods may aggravate shoulder acne, so try to avoid them.
Here are some shoulder acne-fighting foods to incorporate into your diet:
- Fruits and vegetables: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kale, spinach, broccoli
- Fish: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds
- Oils: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
When should you go to the doctor?
If shoulder acne is severe or does not respond to home treatment, you should see a doctor. A doctor can prescribe stronger medications to help clear the breakouts.
If shoulder pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, or warmth, this could be a sign of an infection. Seek medical attention right away to avoid serious complications.
Shoulder acne is a common skin condition that can be treated at home with over-the-counter products and gentle cleansing. However, severe shoulder acne or shoulder pain may require medical treatment. If home remedies don’t relieve your shoulder acne or pain, make an appointment to see your doctor. With proper treatment, shoulder breakouts can be controlled.