Breast Acne

Breast acne is a common condition that most women will encounter at some stage in their life. It is not a serious or life threatening condition, but it can cause the sufferer to be quite embarrassed and experience lowered self esteem.

Understanding breast acne

For many women, the appearance of breast acne is an odd occurrence and will clear up on its own. However, others may experience it on a more long-term basis, causing them to hide their symptoms under heavy tops or high buttoned shirts, which can actually be counter-intuitive and aggravate the acne further.

Condition

Whiteheads on breast

Symptoms

  • Small white or skin colored spots on the skin that do not appear to have an opening

Causes

The causes of breast whiteheads are the same as facial or back whiteheads; oils that are in and on the skin can get trapped inside the pores, along with dirt or dead skin cells, which allow bacteria to grow. Whiteheads are spots which have trapped all the debris underneath the skin and can be tricky to extract without damaging the skin surrounding them.

Possible treatments

While there are many treatments for a variety of spots, whiteheads are trickier as they cannot be extracted or treated effectively from above the skin. It is therefore advised to focus on keeping the affected area clean and gently exfoliate to help remove excess dead skin. The use of creams that limit the amount of oil and bacteria on the skin, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, can also be extremely helpful against whiteheads.

Condition

Blackheads on breast

Symptoms

  • Black colored spots on the skin that can be small or large and appear open

Possible causes

The causes of breast blackheads are essentially the same as whiteheads, except that blackheads are a combination of dirt, dead skin and sebum sitting within a hair follicle. They are completely open to the air, which allows melanin which is also trapped to oxidize, giving it a black color. It is not trapped dirt that gives it the black color.

Possible treatments

Cleansing the skin and exfoliating regularly can help to remove the dead skin and excess oils that can lead to blackheads. Limit the use of oil based products such as body washes and make-up if possible. If blackheads get worse or persist, consult your health care professional as prescription treatments are also available.

Condition

Pustule; more commonly known as a spot, zit or pimple

Symptoms

• Small, red swelling that is easily recognizable as a spot or acne

Possible causes

The causes of the classic “spot” initially occur in the same way a black or whitehead occurs; a pore will get clogged with excess oils, dead skin and bacteria. However, in the case of a pustule, the pore’s wall can collapse which causes white blood cells to occupy the space to avoid infections occurring. This in turn will cause the red swelling and feeling of pressure in the affected area. There are times when these type of spots on the breast are caused by hormonal changes, improper diet or digestion, tight clothing, having poor personal cleanliness and, often times, they are hereditary.

Possible treatments

Try to keep the skin on the chest and breast clean and dry throughout the day and avoid tight clothing or clothing made from synthetic material. The use of heavy or perfumed emollients or creams should be sparring if needed at all. Exfoliation of the area can also help remove excess dead skin and oils. If you suspect that your breast acne is hereditary or hormonal, you should seek advice regarding prescription treatment from your health care professional.

Condition

Cysts or nodules

Symptoms

  • Large or small bumps under the skin which feel swollen and are often painful to touch

Possible causes

Where your average spot is usually a collection of debris trapped in a pore on or just under the skin, cystic and nodule acne is an infection found much further inside the skin. When an infection travels deep into the skin, it can create the same bump that is infected and full of pus but completely trapped, causing swollen, tender lumps. These tend to be sore, itchy and feel very pressurized within the skin. When cysts or nodules burst, they can easily spread the infection to other parts of the skin, causing more cysts or nodules to occur.

Possible treatments

You should never attempt to burst or squeeze cysts and nodules, as this can spread the infection further throughout the skin, causing repeated infection. When you experience this type of acne, it is highly advised you speak directly to a health care professional and they will prescribe one of the following treatments:

  • Antibiotics – These help your body to control any bacteria as well as lessen any inflammation you are experiencing. Occasionally this option will not work, especially if you have taken antibiotics regularly.
  • Prescription retinoid emollients – These creams and gels are filled with a manmade, stronger version of Vitamin A which can help to unplug the pores and aid antibiotics.
  • Isotretinoin – This medication has numerous drug names, but once prescribed it should completely attack all acne to help permanently clear the skin.
  • Birth control – Used by women with hormonal acne to regulate the hormones, which can lessen excess oil production.

Summary

While there are many different kinds of acne, there is no one foolproof way in which you can treat the symptoms. To help avoid or prevent acne from occurring, you need to keep the chest and breasts clean and dry throughout the day; limit the amount of heavy oil or perfume based creams or gels used on the area; attempt to wear breathable clothes made from natural materials such as cotton; when wearing synthetic clothes (such as lycra gym wear for example) remove them as soon as you are finished wearing them for activity and wash them thoroughly; and practice good personal hygiene.