Because pores exist everywhere on our bodies, there also exists the possibility for breakouts everywhere on our bodies. (Great!) But some of those pores are more prone to acne than others, like those that are more exposed to sweat, bacteria, oil, inflammation, and other pore-clogging, pimple-causing phenomena — and that includes your chest. I reached out to New York City-based dermatologists Dr. Robyn Gmyrek and Dr. Kenneth Howe to understand what causes chest acne in the first place, and how to get rid of chest acne should you want to treat these breakouts.
According to Dr. Gmyrek, chest acne is basically the same thing as facial acne. “When a pore gets clogged by dead skin cells at the opening, sebum gets trapped inside. That creates inflammation, which leads to pimples and an overgrowth of bacteria,” she explains. Also like facial acne, the causes for chest acne are often multi-pronged. Some people have a genetic predisposition to acne, while some might experience hormonal breakouts. But along with biological factors, Dr. Gmyrek says that chest acne can be caused or worsened by excessive sweating, especially while wearing tight-fitting clothing. Occlusive clothing, like sports bras and compression shirts, trap sweat and oil, which leads to more bacteria and inflammation. Et voila: chest acne.
Beyond showering ASAP after a workout, you can also use pimple-fighting products to keep chest acne at bay. But be mindful of the products you’re using to treat chest acne, as Dr. Gmyrek warns that “your chest skin is more sensitive to being dried out or irritated by medicated acne products than facial skin.” So if you’re using a concentrated spot treatment, use it sparingly and occasionally so you don’t exacerbate dryness.
Dr. Howe adds that the risk of scarring is greater with chest acne, “particularly deeper acne cysts on the central chest" — so whatever you do, don’t pick at your spots. Dr. Howe says those resulting scabs and scars can take months to clear up. And if over-the-counter remedies aren’t working for you, Dr. Howe recommends paying a visit to your dermatologist. “Probably because the area is covered by clothes, a lot of patients neglect getting treatment for their chest,” he says. “But why continue to suffer, when we can clear it up?”
That said, there are ways to treat chest acne at home. Start with these five dermatologist-approved products, listed ahead, which can help you prevent, treat, and get rid of chest acne for good.