Shoulder Acne

Shoulder acne is a problem faced by 60% of overall acne sufferers and can cause pain, scarring, and emotional difficulty. With proper treatment, shoulder acne can be greatly reduced.

During the summer or warmer months, shoulder acne is visible to the world. If you’ve been putting off dealing with this problem because no one would see it, take a look at some causes and cures for shoulder acne.

What are the six different kinds of acne?

1. Whiteheads: These occur when a hair follicle is blocked off altogether and no air can get in. From the surface, it looks like a white bump.
2. Blackheads: These are also caused by a blocked hair follicle, but they are not sealed off from the air. This causes the oily sebum to oxidize and turn black.
3. Papules: When the follicle wall breaks down, the area becomes inflamed and creates an acne papule.
4. Pustules: These are what most people would refer to as pimples or zits. They are pus-filled papules.
5. Nodules: These are also caused by blocked pores, but in this case, the lesion forms under the surface of the skin. This creates a hard and painful nodule, usually over 5mm wide.
6. Cysts: Pus-filled nodules.

Why does shoulder acne happen?

There are four primary causes of shoulder acne.

1. Too much sebum. Your sebaceous glands, which are everywhere but your palms and the soles of your feet, secrete the fatty substance known as sebum. This is designed to lubricate your skin and hair. If your glands are overproducing sebum, however, it can mix in with dead skin and other particles on your skin and create a clog of your pores and follicles. Hormones are thought to be the key factor in overproduction of sebum, which is why you will experience more acne when you are going through puberty or on your period.

2. Trapped sweat. When your sweat doesn’t have a chance to evaporate properly but is held against your skin by tight, non-breathable clothing, a purse, bra straps, or backpacks, it plugs your pores and causes acne. This can be worsened if there is also friction involved, because it irritates your pores and causes inflammation.

3. Too much keratin. Keratin is what our hair is made out of. Sometimes the body makes too much of it, however, and it doesn’t get turned into hair but instead mixes with dead skin cells, widening and clogging the pores. This type of acne happens most commonly on the upper arms and thighs but can happen anywhere there is hair. It is usually less severe than other types and will often appear rough.

4. Allergic reaction. Skin care and laundry products are the most common causes of acne caused by an allergic reaction. This may include types of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, detergent, fabric softeners, etc.

Treatment for shoulder acne.

Regardless of the cause, the care for shoulder acne is similar across the board.

1. Acne medication. Since the skin on your back and shoulders is less sensitive than on your face, treating shoulder acne can be simpler than treating facial acne. Though there are several different over the counter medications available, benzoyl peroxide is one of the most effective acne medications you can get over the counter. It comes in 2.5%, 5%, and 10% options. You should start lower and work your way up higher if it proves ineffective at lower percentages. Keep in mind as you use it that it can easily bleach clothing.

2. Acne products. Exfoliating creams and lotions, such as retinol cream or alpha hydroxyl acid, work to remove dead skin, unclog pores, and moisturize skin. This type of treatment is especially effective against acne caused by the overproduction of keratin.

3. Shower soon after every workout. Showering regularly, especially after working out, will cleanse away dead skin, sweat, and excess sebum. If you also use an oil-free body-wash that contains 2% salicylic acid. This acid helps break up the sebum and keratin and decreases inflammation.

4. Adjust your clothing choices. When you know you’re going to sweat, wear loose-fitting, cotton clothing and a bra that fits properly.

5. Be aware of what laundry detergent you’re using. If you’re having breakouts where your clothing hangs on your body or your skin touches your bedding, you might be allergic to your detergent.

6. Home remedies. Warm compresses, apple cider vinegar, oatmeal baths, turmeric, aloe vera, and tea tree oil are all hailed as good remedies for acne. Here are some of the recipes using these ingredients:

  • For a warm compress, mix 1 teaspoon of table salt with 2 cups of warm water. Soak a washcloth in the mixture and wring out the excess water. Place the washcloth on the acne-affected area and leave it there for 10 minutes. Once it cools, replace it with a warm one. Repeat 3-4 times a day.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar with 2 teaspoons of water. Apply to acne-affected skin. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. Repeat 2-3 times a day.
  • To create an oatmeal bath, combine 1 cup of oatmeal powder with bath water. Soak for 15 minutes. Pat your skin dry gently and apply a non-oil moisturizer.
  • To treat with tea tree oil, put 1-2 drops of oil on a moist cotton ball and dab gently on acne-affected skin. Let it sit for 1 hour, then rinse with cool water.
  • To make a turmeric paste, mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric power with a small amount of water or coconut oil. Dab the paste on the acne-affected skin. Leave for 1 hour, then wash with lukewarm water. Repeat once or twice daily for a few days.

7. Don’t squeeze! It may be unbearably tempting, but don’t squeeze your acne, whatever type it is. Squeezing acne spots can push the pus deeper into the skin, worsen inflammation, and result in scarring.

Acne affects 95% of people at some point in their life. Many of those suffering from acne, whether of the face or shoulders, feel ashamed or insecure because of their condition. If this is you, remember that most people you come into contact with have experienced it too, on one level or another. You’re not alone, and there are treatments that can help.