How do I Treat Chest Acne? (with pictures)

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
The hair follicles on the chest can become blocked and infected fairly easily.
The hair follicles on the chest can become blocked and infected fairly easily.

Chest acne occurs when hair follicles on the chest become blocked by dead skin and excess sebum, an oil produced by the body to keep the skin moisturized. When bacteria enter these blockages they can become infected, resulting in red, swollen, and sometimes painful pimples and cysts. Treating your chest acne should be a multistep process. First, you should cleanse your skin properly to prevent or lessen future breakouts. In addition, you should combat current breakouts with an over-the-counter or prescription treatment.

Acne that doesn't improve within 4 to 8 weeks should be seen by a dermatologist.
Acne that doesn't improve within 4 to 8 weeks should be seen by a dermatologist.

The hair follicles on the chest can become blocked and infected fairly easily. Men’s chests are commonly covered by hair, while women’s are usually clothed in tightly fitting bras. In addition, many people sweat in the chest region when exercising. All of these factors make the chest a hotspot for clogged hair follicles and bacteria that can sometimes erupt into chest acne.

Chest acne can be treated with the same ointments that are used on facial breakouts.
Chest acne can be treated with the same ointments that are used on facial breakouts.

To prevent or reduce the occurrence of future chest acne breakouts, you should take care to cleanse the skin thoroughly and regularly. While taking your daily shower, try applying a gentle soap or cleanser to a clean washcloth and then working it over your chest using light pressure. This routine should both exfoliate dead skin cells and remove acne-causing bacteria. You should cleanse your chest shortly after workouts or other activities that cause you to sweat. As dirty clothes can harbor bacteria, you should also be sure that all garments worn over the chest are clean.

Chest acne may develop as a result of sweat.
Chest acne may develop as a result of sweat.

Next, you should fight existing chest acne with a treatment regime. The best type of treatment product for you depends on the severity of your acne. Light cases often respond well to over-the-counter lotions, creams, and gels that contain active ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These products should be applied to the chest area after it has been cleansed. They work to eliminate bacteria and dry out excess sebum.

Using a sugar scrub to exfoliate dead skin from the chest may help prevent chest acne.
Using a sugar scrub to exfoliate dead skin from the chest may help prevent chest acne.

If after four to eight weeks your chest acne shows no sign of responding to an over-the-counter treatment, you may need to seek the help of a dermatologist. She may prescribe an ointment or a combination of ointments similar to those sold over the counter but containing higher doses of active ingredient. Should your breakouts persist, your dermatologist may then prescribe an oral antibiotic, which is often intended for use in combination with a topical cream. While this combination is often highly effective in treating chest acne, note that it can take up to four months for results to become visible.

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Discussion Comments

candyquilt

I don't know why but whenever I go tanning or sun bathing, my chest acne seems to improve. It's almost as if the sunlight and heat dries the acne out.

Does this happen with anyone else?

I do use my face products for the acne on my chest and it seems to work for the most part. I haven't been able to use one or two products because it irritated my skin though.

Oh exercise, sweating and drinking lots of water helps a lot too. A good sweat and shower seems to clean my skin more thoroughly. But it needs to become a regular routine for it show long-term results. Drinking enough water is good for the skin in general, hydration is important.

ysmina

@simrin-- Do you apply hair conditioner while in the shower?

I used to have the same exact problem and after trying many things, I realized that the culprit was actually hair conditioner. I was getting hair conditioner on my back and chest in the shower and wasn't rinsing it and cleaning it properly afterward which was causing breakouts.

When you apply hair conditioner, throw your hair down and do it so that you don't get it on your chest. Make sure to rinse really well afterward. Try to exfoliate your skin every time, use exfoliating cleansers and cloths in the shower. Don't apply body lotion on your chest and back after showering.

It could also be an allergic reaction so pay attention to what you're eating and if the back and chest acne tends to be worse after certain foods or drinks.

These tips have helped me and have cleared my acne. I hope they will work for you too.

SteamLouis

I have acne on my chest and back. I have it on my face but it's worse on my chest and back. I do shower right after working out and wear clean clothes. I even bought an expensive wash for body acne but it hasn't made any difference.

I really don't know what to do. I can keep my face acne under control. I have a great skin regime I've been using for years. I've thought about applying it to my chest and back but the products wouldn't last long if I did that. Applying acne toner on my chest also over-dries my skin. I can't even it apply it on my back because it's impossible to reach.

I would love to hear any suggestions for treating this. I'm planning a vacation to Hawaii in one month and I cannot imagine wearing a bikini looking like this.

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    • The hair follicles on the chest can become blocked and infected fairly easily.
      The hair follicles on the chest can become blocked and infected fairly easily.
    • Acne that doesn't improve within 4 to 8 weeks should be seen by a dermatologist.
      Acne that doesn't improve within 4 to 8 weeks should be seen by a dermatologist.
    • Chest acne can be treated with the same ointments that are used on facial breakouts.
      Chest acne can be treated with the same ointments that are used on facial breakouts.
    • Chest acne may develop as a result of sweat.
      Chest acne may develop as a result of sweat.
    • Using a sugar scrub to exfoliate dead skin from the chest may help prevent chest acne.
      Using a sugar scrub to exfoliate dead skin from the chest may help prevent chest acne.
    • Benzoyl peroxide may be applied in a thin layer over all acne-affected areas.
      Benzoyl peroxide may be applied in a thin layer over all acne-affected areas.
    • Oral antibiotics may help treat chest acne.
      Oral antibiotics may help treat chest acne.
    • Prescription or over-the-counter ointments may be part of the treatment for chest acne.
      Prescription or over-the-counter ointments may be part of the treatment for chest acne.