What Causes Shoulder Acne?
Before we address how to get rid of shoulder acne, it’s important to first know what causes acne. Acne can occur anywhere on the body but most often on areas where there is a high concentration of sebaceous glands. These areas include the face, chest, upper back, shoulders and neck. According to Harvard Medical School, body acne causes are generally the same as that of facial acne: clogged pores and excess sebum. When pores become clogged with dead skin cells and excess sebum, and mix with bacteria, breakouts develop. Areas of the body may also become acne-prone if the sebaceous glands in these areas are overactive.
Living with body acne can be bothersome, and if you experience frustration because of it, know that you aren’t alone. Thankfully, there are things you can do to improve your skin’s condition and prevent new breakouts from forming.
How to Get Rid of Shoulder Acne
When searching for tips and tricks on how to get rid of shoulder acne, you’ve likely come across many different methods. You’ll notice that many ingredients typically used to fight facial acne can also be used to get rid of shoulder acne. Here are our top ingredients to look out for when choosing skincare products to add to your routine.
1. Salicyclic Acid
Salicylic acid penetrates deep within the pores and clears them of debris and oil while gently exfoliating the skin to prevent clogging and get rid of dead skin cell buildup that can cause breakouts. Salicylic acid is best for mild to moderate acne and is particularly effective in getting rid of blackheads and whiteheads.
Our vegan acne treatment gel, Treat, contains 2% salicylic acid, which is prescription-grade. As a result, Treat is quite powerful and even contains oat kernel to help soothe problem areas. Treat can be applied to shoulder acne as well as on any breakouts on other parts of the body.
2. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is another well-known acne-fighting ingredient and is most effective on pus-filled pimples, also known as pustules. It works by killing acne-causing bacteria and can be found in washes and creams in varying concentrations, with some reaching up to 10%. Benzoyl peroxide is more drying than salicylic acid so if you have dry skin, exercise caution if you choose to use it. Patch test to help determine if a negative reaction will occur, and be sure to keep your skin properly moisturized to minimize dryness. You may want to start with a low concentration and introduce it into your routine slowly. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid benzoyl peroxide and opt for an alternative acne treatment.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree is touted as an effective acne treatment thanks to its natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. You can get this ingredient as an essential oil, but keep in mind that pure tea tree oil can trigger skin irritation since it’s very potent. To avoid negative reactions, it’s best to dilute it with water, mix it with your moisturizer, or use a skincare product that contains the ingredient instead.
4. Apple Cider VinegarThere are a few reasons why apple cider vinegar is a popular contender when it comes to getting rid of facial acne and body acne. First, apple cider vinegar’s high acidity does help get rid of dead skin cell buildup, which in turn helps unclog pores and fight breakouts. Second, the main ingredient in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid, which is known to have antibacterial properties. If your skin can tolerate it, you can create your own toner by diluting apple cider vinegar with water. However, there isn’t any scientific research that proves apple cider vinegar to be an effective acne treatment. You may be better off with proven acne-fighting ingredients like those previously mentioned.
Note: Some people make the mistake of using multiple acne treatments at once in hopes that doing so will clear up their acne faster, but this can actually irritate and aggravate the skin. Stick to one treatment at a time to help you determine which one your skin responds best to.
How to Prevent Shoulder Acne
Now that you know how to get rid of shoulder acne, let’s now cover the different ways to prevent new breakouts and keep your shoulders acne-free, including products and behaviors that may make acne worse. While we may be focusing on shoulder acne prevention, these tips also apply to facial acne and other types of body acne.
Wash Up Right After Your Workout
If you have acne-prone skin, remember that sweat from your workout can affect your body just as much as it can affect your face. Avoid new breakouts and acne mechanica by practicing good post-workout hygiene. Wash up right after exercising so that your sweat doesn’t linger on your skin for too long and cause shoulder acne as well as acne on other parts of the body. If you’re unable to take a shower right away, try to bring an extra set of clothes. Sweaty clothes are breeding grounds for bacteria so change out of your workout attire as soon as possible, especially if your clothes are tight and made of fabric that isn’t breathable.
Reevaluate Your Shower Products
If you struggle with shoulder acne or back acne, your haircare and bodycare products may be to blame. As you rinse off shampoo and conditioner from your hair, it may be clogging your pores as they run down your body and into the drain. Your body wash or soap may also contain artificial fragrances and ingredients that irritate the skin and clog your pores so make sure that both your hair and body products are fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.
As an added measure of caution, wash your hair first, then wash your body at the end of your shower. This helps get rid of any haircare residue that may be clinging to your shoulders and back.
Exfoliate Your Body Regularly
Exfoliation isn’t just for the face. Many people like to use tools such as body brushes, washcloths and loofas to exfoliate their body. While these can be effective, it’s also easy to make the mistake of rubbing the skin too harshly, which can irritate the skin. Instead, you can skip the tools altogether and opt for an exfoliating vegan body wash but make sure it’s free of plastic microbeads. Our Sudsy body wash contains salicylic acid and biodegradable jojoba granules that gently massage the skin and then dissolve. Sudsy is also packed with more than 20 juicy, detoxifying herb and fruit extracts to deeply cleanse and moisturize the skin. Not only does it feel like a juicy citrus treat, but it also helps wash away dirt, oil and bacteria, and clear your pores.
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Avoid Hot Showers
We all know that taking showers is essential for keeping skin clean but the way in which you clean your body may be the cause of your breakouts. If you shower with hot water, beware! Hot water can worsen breakouts by causing dryness, which is bad news if you already struggle with dry skin. The hot temperature expands the pores and allows oil to escape and be washed away, essentially drying out the skin. To avoid stripping your body of natural oils, keep your showers as short as possible and stick to lukewarm water.
The skin on your face should be moisturized everyday and the same goes for the skin on your body. If you have dry skin, moisturizing your body will be particularly important. The best time to moisturize is within 5 minutes after hopping out of the shower. Opt for a cream that contains ceramides, which help create a barrier on your skin to lock in moisture.
Shield Your Body From the Sun
Wearing sunscreen is non-negotiable. You may be thinking, “I only need to wear sunscreen during the summer or when I plan to spend hours in the sun” but we’re here to tell you that sunscreen is one of the important parts of a daily skincare routine. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the harmful effects of unprotected sun exposure. Failing to shield your skin from UV rays not only puts you at risk of developing sunburn and skin cancer, but it also causes hyperpigmentation, signs of aging, and can even worsen existing breakouts.
Before leaving the house, always remember to lather on sunscreen to any exposed areas of your body, especially during the warmer months when you’re more likely to wear clothing that exposes your shoulders. Chemical sunscreen contains toxic ingredients like oxybenzone and octinaxate so go with a mineral sunscreen like SunShady. With SunShady, you’ll get total protection against harmful UV rays, environmental pollutants, free radicals, and blue light from digital devices, all of which can negatively affect your skin’s overall health.
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Don’t Pick Your Pimples
We always stress the importance of leaving your pimples alone, and shoulder acne is no exception. Popping and picking at pimples can damage the skin so the more you fuss with these blemishes, the more likely you’ll be left with a scar due to causing increased inflammation. If you think about all the bacteria, grime, and gunk that accumulates on your fingertips throughout the day, you definitely don’t want to transfer all of that to your skin. Doing so can worsen and cause breakouts so hands off!
Abby Vinas has long been an active member of the holistic health community, advocating in favor of its benefits to both our physical and emotional well-being. Her commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle has made her an authority on self-care practices. Abby is passionate about fitness, nutrition, and proper skincare, and is also an avid lover of avocado toast and dog-petting.