It is important to know how to get rid of chest acne if you are struggling with it. Chest acne can scar, leave brown marks and is hard to cover up with anything but clothing. It is also common and very frustrating. Here are tips from my dermatology practice to help get rid of stubborn chest acne.
Heal and prevent pimples and scars on chest skin with these tips from a dermatologist.
Why can people suddenly develop acne on their chest?
Chest acne can happen suddenly when the yeast germs on your skin are given the perfect conditions to thrive – such as warm, sweaty skin and a sugary diet. Hot weather, occlusive clothing or a sudden increase in your workout routine can provide just the right heat and moisture for yeast growth. Yeast love sugar too and a high carbohydrate diet is associated with worsening acne. Eating dairy rich foods can cause acne too.
Prickly heat (called miliaria) can also mimic acne.
Itchy or tender red bumps, some with white heads, happen from blocked sweat glands. It comes on suddenly. This happens when you wear occlusive fabric against your skin at the same time you sweat.
What typically causes chest acne?
Chest acne is usually caused by sweat, heat, wearing clothing made of fabric that doesn’t breathe, and a diet high in carbohydrates, sugar and dairy-containing foods. Any of these can cause chest acne - doing them all at once is a recipe for acne disaster!
How does chest acne differ from the acne you may experience on your face?
- Chest acne is more often due to the Pityrosporum yeast.
- The pimples tend to be bright red and both itchy and tender at the same time.
- The skin is often studded with tiny bumps that are actually closed-over blocked pores.
- The bacteria that cause classic teenage acne, called C. acnes (formerly P. acnes) can play a role too, often working with the Pityrosporum yeast to cause the pimples.
- Chest acne tends to leave post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), meaning dark marks on your skin after the pimples heal. There are also tiny white scars left behind too.
Facial acne can be caused by the Pityrosporum yeast or the C. acnes (formerly P. acnes) germ. This latter type of acne is the classic teenage acne where blackheads form along the t-zone and eventually the cheeks and entire face. Pimples tend to be sore and can become cystic. Lesions often heal with scars and skin indentations.
What can you do to get rid of chest acne?
There are 7 skin care steps to help get rid of chest and back acne:
#1 Use medicated acne-fighting body wash with pyrithione zinc.
This is an ingredient found in some dandruff shampoos and also in my Foaming Zinc Cleanser. to help control Pityrosporum yeast growth.
#2 Alternate the pyrithione zinc cleanser with a keratolytic cleanser.
Benzoyl peroxide wash or a salicylic and glycolic acid wash to help keep pores free from blockages. Benzoyl peroxide also helps kill the C. acnes bacteria, which can grow on chest skin and worsen chest acne.
My Back Acne Kit has everything you need to fight chest acne at dermatologist levels of medicated ingredients along with an exfoliating shower cloth.
#3 Wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating. If you can’t hop in the shower, use skin cleansing wipes.
#4 Shower daily with a medicated acne cleanser to prevent breakouts. Use an exfoliating shower cloth or scrub at least twice a week to help keep pores from becoming blocked.
#5 Spot treat pimples with a benzoyl peroxide lotion.
Benzoyl peroxide will bleach colored fabric so wear a white tee shirt after applying benzoyl peroxide or washing with a benzoyl peroxide acne cleanser. Use my Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cream at 2.5% or higher.
#6 Wear fabric against your chest skin that breathes.
#7 Wear a light-weight and oil free broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen to prevent hyperpigmentation from healed acne lesions.
Hyperpigmentation from acne is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, abbreviated PIH. PIH lasts much longer than acne and can leave lasting marks long after chestacne has cleared! My Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen is the perfect choice. It’s even water resistant to 40 minutes.
What can women and men do to prevent chest acne from forming in the first place?
- Start using an acne-fighting body wash routine before chest acne happens.
- As weather heats up expect to battle acne, and have your prevention strategy well in place.
- Cleanse your chest skin with a gently exfoliating shower cloth and alternate a pyrithione zinc cleanser with either a benzoyl peroxide acne fighting cleanser or a 2% salicylic acid and 10% glycolic acid acne cleanser such as my Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser if you are allergic to benzoyl peroxide.
The best skin care products to control and prevent chest and back acne:
My Back (and Chest) Acne Kit has what you need.
Keep my 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cream on hand to spot treat pimples when they are small.
If you are allergic to benzoyl peroxide, use my Foaming Zinc Soap with my Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser and the Salux Cloth.
Use my Acne Treatment Pads to remove skin oil when you can't hop into the shower to treat pimple prone areas.
Dermatologist's additional tips to control chest and back acne:
- Be sure you have breathable work-out clothing.
- Shower as soon as possible after sweaty activities.
- Be sure to eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies and whole foods. Shun sugary high carb foods and dairy rich foods. Substitute non-dairy milk products for dairy products. Drink lots of water or non-sweetened beverages instead of sugary ones that will raise your blood sugar and lead to acne.
How can you heal brown ‘scars’ (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) from chest acne fast?
- Protect skin from sun exposure by wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen
- Apply pigment lightening products such as hydroquinone and botanical pigment lighteners. My Pigment Fading Pads have the most effective combination of ingredients to heal PIH.
- Use a retinoid such as my Retinol Night Cream or prescription tretinoin at night.
- Glycolic Acid Body Lotion contains a full 15% glycolic acid in a light-weight non-comedogenic, oil free lotion that’s perfect for healing PIH
The bottom line with chest acne:
This frustrating acne is controllable with the right skin care routine that address the causes of chest acne.