The Complete Guide on How To Get Rid Of Shoulder Acne


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In line with our vision to be your best source for anything skin-related, we present to you a complete guide on how to get rid of shoulder acne. With this article, we will answer all your questions regarding shoulder acne and will also give you the best tips on how to get rid of it.


I am a huge fan of off-the-shoulders tops and dresses as it makes me feel like I’m headed to Coachella or off to a picnic with fairies and pixies in a secret garden.

The breezy, feminine feel of exposing my shoulders in the pretty tops always excite me, but sadly, I cannot revel in shoulder revealing clothing.

After all, my skin won't be the highlight no matter how hard I worked for a beautiful tan; instead, all eyes will immediately zoom in and focus on the acne.

I admit the shoulder acne was not part of the fairy-goes-to-Coachella aesthetic and fantasy that I’ve always imagined.

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What Is Shoulder Acne?​

For the majority of my adolescent years, I firmly believed that acne is exclusively for the face.

As my skin was still clear back then, I felt that the skin gods were on my side and I was blessed not to have any acne on my face.

But alas, my acne-free days weren’t meant to last, and when my luck dried out, I found myself with acne - not on the face though! Acne settled on my shoulders first and worked its way up ever since.

Just like my little story, it is true that acne can grow in every nook and cranny of your body.

As the skin is the largest organ covering you from head to toe, it is no surprise that acne may develop not only on your face, but on your chest, shoulders and even down there - your butt to be exact.​

So what is shoulder acne then?

Shoulder acne is the same kind of acne that grows on your face. It is the result of the inflammation of your body or the clogging of your pores and hair follicles because of excess oil and dirt.​

Often, shoulder acne is caused by bacterial or fungal infection - making your acne worse because it rapidly multiplies, is itchy, and has a visibly red shade.

What Causes Shoulder Acne​

I also asked myself this question a lot, especially since I didn’t have acne on my face back then. So why was it just growing on my shoulders?

Well, there are several probable reasons why your acne reached your shoulders.​

The most common reasons though are sweat, tight-fitting clothes, and dirt in general.

If you are maintaining your figure for your health, you might be hitting the gym often, or maybe doing some yoga or pilates at home.

It is advisable to always shower after a work-out. This is to make sure that you clean your body of the sweat you excreted. The sweat and oil may build-up in your pores, clog it and then break-out.

Also, loose and comfortable clothing is also advised if you have shoulder acne.

Tight-fitting clothes tend to irritate your skin; since most of us wear this type of clothing during exercise, a shower is really a must.

The pores on your shoulders are larger than those on your face, so if you have breakouts on the shoulders, be warned that you may get bigger acne - deeper, more red, more painful and equally annoying.​

Are There Different Types Of Shoulder Acne?

Just like having whiteheads, blackheads, or cystic acne on your face, your shoulder acne may vary too, depending on some factors like the cause of it, for example.

The different types are treated accordingly as well, targeting what caused them in the first place.

Shoulder acne may be any of the following:

  • Acne mechanica
  • Acne conglobota
  • “Swimming pool” acne

A common type of acne that can also develop on the back or buttocks is the acne mechanica. It is said to be most common for athletes and soldiers; but then again anybody who sweats and is around skin irritants can get this, too.

Acne mechanica is triggered by factors such as heat, pressure, and friction.

This type of acne can manifest as either almost invisible yet rough and bumpy to large, visible and inflamed breakouts.

In acne mechanica, sweat together with heat is held against the skin. The skin then is further irritated by the constant rubbing or friction which then causes it to break out into acne.​

Usually, acne mechanica is triggered by the sports equipment and clothing of athletes; shoulder pads or tight athletic wear, for example.

For soldiers, this kind of acne can be triggered because of heavy backpacks and gear coupled with being stationed at places where the heat is high.

Still, common garments such as your bra can be the culprit; even your purse, backpack, and headband can trigger acne mechanica.

Another type of shoulder acne is acne conglobota. It is a rare type of acne, which is a good thing, as it can be severe.

In acne conglobota, large and usually red lesions not only burrow into the skin but also connect with each other, thereby causing visible disfigurement to the skin.​

It is usually found from the shoulders down to the buttocks, but it may also develop on the face.

Acne conglobota is genetic, but it can also be triggered by steroids, particularly bodybuilding, injectable steroids.​

Aside from the types of acnes mentioned above, you may also get one kind from probably one of the most common places to refresh and unwind; the swimming pool.

Swimming pool acne is a kind of a chloracne that may manifest months or even years after the “event.”​

You see, swimming pool acne is not caused by you diving in a pool (if it were, then pools wouldn't be existing now) but rather it is triggered when you ingest pool water.

In swimming pool acne you get plentiful lesions that vary in size. It mostly develops on your shoulders, but it can also occur on your face or back and even on the buttocks as well.

How To Get Rid Of Shoulder Acne​

Like the acne on your face, your shoulder acne isn’t dangerous physically - you won’t die because of acne.

However, one thing sure to die from acne is your self-confidence. And when your self-confidence dies, everything goes downhill from there.

For me, it started with my apprehension to wear the off-the-shoulders clothing that I love, instead of switching it with t-shirts, button-ups or sweaters. I couldn't even wear sleeveless tops at that point.

Soon, my apprehension wasn’t just with the clothes I will wear, but it also affected my entire disposition - my thought process was that I am a good-for-nothing person who can’t even expose a little shoulder skin.

This is what developed my resolve was to get rid of the annoying bumps on my shoulders.

If you are similar to me, then here are some tips on how to get rid of shoulder acne:

BONUS: These are all things you can do at home with ingredients or materials that are either readily available in your kitchen or the nearest grocery or drugstore.

1. How To Get Rid Of Acne On Shoulders With Apple Cider Vinegar​

Not only is apple cider vinegar, or ACV, a delicious ingredient that will add fruitiness to your salads and dishes; it is also a heaven-sent gift that treats different issues from the top of your head, down and inside-out.

ACV is known to help get rid of dandruff and even indigestion and hiccups, but apparently, it is also good in helping you get rid of acne - wherever this acne may be.

You see, ACV has antibacterial properties that may help fight off any bacterial infection that causes your shoulder acne to worsen.

Also, ACV has malic and lactic acid in it and these two acids can produce wonderful effects for your skin, especially against your acne.​

As a matter of fact, lactic acids is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), a favorite ingredient in your exfoliant and other topical creams.

If applied to the skin, ACV, with the help of malic and lactic acids, can help your skin exfoliate faster, therefore reducing red spots and minimizing breakouts as your clogged pores are basically cleaned.

To use ACV just dab some of it on cotton and apply it on your shoulder acne. You may keep doing this at least twice a day for optimum results.

2. How To Remove Acne From Back And Shoulders With Lemon and Sugar Scrub​

The key on how to get rid of shoulder acne is exfoliation - therefore ingredients with grainy textures work best.

For your shoulder acne, a great combination would be that of lemon and sugar in the form of a body scrub.

Lemon, of course, being a citrus fruit, is rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is critical for supporting the immune system of a person, and for acne, it is good in reducing the redness and itchiness combo.​

Aside from the Vitamin C, lemon also is a natural astringent that will help dry out your acne and even unclog your pores.

Lemon can also help whiten your skin and can be of use especially if you have those dull marks and scars of past shoulder acne.​

As for sugar, its grainy texture can help exfoliate your skin faster.

Exfoliation encourages your skin to rejuvenate as it needs to replenish the removed dead skin cells, making you get new, smooth and blemish-free skin.​

For a lemon and sugar scrub, you may opt to use a lemon or the juice alone.

The former procedure calls for half or even a slice of lemon covered in sugar. Scrub this into your shoulder for about 3 minutes, or until the granules dissolve. Leave it on for about 5 more minutes before rinsing it off with water.

If you have lemon juice on the other hand, just add a tablespoon of sugar to make a paste. Scrub it on your shoulders for 3 minutes and leave it on for an additional 10 before rinsing off.

Remember to always be gentle in your exfoliation, you only need to get the top dead skin cells, and harsh scrubbing will only lead to even more irritated acne.​

It will get red and stingy, and that won't make it heal faster.

3. How To Get Rid Of Back And Shoulder Acne With Benzoyl Peroxide​

Your next choice on how to get rid of shoulder acne is an ingredient that is dubbed, acne’s greatest enemy.

Alongside salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide can do wonders for your acne.

Benzoyl peroxide is bactericidal - it can help kill bacteria that may trigger another wave of breakouts.

Bacteria is found in almost everything, including the clothes we wear, so having the first line of defense in benzoyl peroxide can benefit you.

Aside from being a bactericidal, benzoyl peroxide can also help reduce inflammation. Therefore your shoulder acne will be less noticeable as it is not a screaming shade of red.

Lastly, benzoyl peroxide cleanses deeply. It can unclog your pores.

The skin on your shoulder has larger pores than that of your face, just imagine having that clogged.

With benzoyl peroxide, acne breakouts can be prevented and treated as it goes right into the problem of clogged pores and bacteria. You can learn how to get rid of backne with benzoyl peroxide here.

4. How To Prevent Shoulder Acne With Green Tea​

If you are an enthusiastic green tea drinker (like me!) don't throw away those packets - keep them as we have another purpose for them.

Green tea, especially the one in teabags, is good for exfoliation in regards to texture. It is grainy but unlike sugar, green tea granules are not as hard.

Aside from the texture, green tea also has good benefits for your skin.​

Green tea is an antioxidant, meaning it can help repair any free radical damage on your skin. Dull and crepey skin on your shoulders won’t look good either, so using green tea both as a drink and a scrub will give you this added bonus.

Also, green tea can help you calm down an inflamed acne and can even help you get rid of excessive oil that can clog your pores as green tea can break down this oil.

To use green tea, you may either use it as exfoliant or you may opt to use the water infused with the tea by either rinsing off using it or applying it directly on the acne - or better yet why not do both to get the most out of that teabag?

5. How To Treat Acne On Back And Shoulders With Tea Tree Oil​

Another heaven-sent ingredient is tea tree oil that can help treat not just your acne but even athlete’s foot and psoriasis.

In your quest to get rid of shoulder acne, tea tree oil may help because it is antimicrobial and antibacterial so that it helps prevent any further breakout that may be caused by microbial or bacterial infection.

Also, tea tree oil can help unclog deep-seated dirt and excessive oil as it can penetrate into your pores and cleanse it. This would be much appreciated, especially in your shoulders as the pores are larger here than on the face.

Basically, tea tree oil is as effective as the commercialized benzoyl peroxide when it comes to helping you get rid of shoulder acne.

To use tea tree oil, you must always dilute it in water as it can dry your skin out extremely.

You may add about three to five drops of tea tree oil to water and use it to rinse yourself while bathing; take care not to use it to rinse your hair as well. Focus on the problematic spots when you rinse.​

You may also combine a few drops of tea tree oil and a teaspoon of honey and apply it on your shoulder acne. Leave it on for 25 to 30 minutes and rinse off well.

The honey can help soothe the redness of your acne as it has anti-inflammatory properties in it.

BONUS: Aside from all these tips, you can also prevent shoulder acne by making sure that your sweat does not dry off on your skin. Wipe it off, or if you intend to sweat profusely, make sure that you take a bath after.

The Bottom Line​

There you have it - a complete guide on how to get rid of shoulder acne.

As I have repeatedly emphasized, having acne, whether it is on your face or your shoulders, can really be a letdown - it can be a direct hit to one's self-confidence.

In this guide, we’ve presented you with tips and tricks on how to get rid of shoulder acne for good.

Remember that your hesitance or adamant refusal to wear sleeveless or shoulder-baring tops and dresses should be because you don’t think it screams you - not because you have to hide the blemishes and acne.

We hope that through this guide, you will be able to take the best possible action against your shoulder acne and be the Coachella pixie/fairy/fashionista that you should be.​

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