There is no one answer for how to get rid of chest acne—there are several. And we’re here to walk you through the possibilities to help you find the solution to your chest acne.
When searching for how to get rid of chest acne, you probably won’t find many products made specifically for chest acne. This is because it is typically very similar to facial acne. There are a few key differences that are important to consider, but in most cases, the best tips and tricks for how to get rid of chest acne are ones that also apply to facial acne. Chest acne has some unique causes that might not affect the face, such as sports uniforms or laundry detergent, but we have some potential solutions for those issues as well.
Chest Acne vs. Facial Acne
In general, acne is the same no matter where it is found. It’s caused by inflammation, bacteria, and oil production, and combatting those causes is the best way to get clear, healthy skin, whether that skin is on the chest or on the face. Although acne is the same everywhere, skin is not.
The skin on the chest is typically much thicker than the skin on the face, and its pores also tend to be larger. This affects the type of acne that typically occurs on the chest, and how difficult it is to treat. Unlike facial acne, which can be any mix of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples, chest acne is much more likely to be primarily made up of pimples. This is because of the size of the pores. It takes a lot more oil to clog the large pores on the chest and create a blackhead or whitehead, but the small pores on the face can easily be clogged by a slight excess of oil. Instead of being clogged by excess oil, these large open pores are more susceptible to bacteria.
The other issue that makes chest acne different from facial acne is the thickness of the skin. Skin is made up of several different layers of cells: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of skin, and it is typically much thinner on the face than it is on the chest or elsewhere on the body. Facial acne products should be made with this in mind, meaning they should be gentle enough not to irritate the epidermis. When looking for how to get rid of chest acne, on the other hand, you can often use much stronger products or ingredients, because the thicker epidermis is much less fragile.
Causes of Chest Acne
Just like facial acne, chest acne is caused by inflammation, bacteria, and oil production, but the biggest outside influence on chest acne is irritation. The chest can be irritated by almost anything, but why does this irritation lead to acne?
When the skin is irritated, it tries to protect itself from the irritant. It triggers the inflammation response, causing the skin to swell slightly in order to prevent the irritant from penetrating deeper into the skin or spreading to other areas of the skin. When the irritant is unfamiliar bacteria or poison ivy oil, this is an effective response, but when the skin is being irritated by something bigger, like a sport uniform that’s too tight, the inflammation just contributes to acne.
The skin’s second response to irritation is producing a short burst of oil, to create a protective layer between the skin and the irritant. Unless it is very dry, skin always produces a small amount of oil as a protective layer, but when the skin is irritated, it tries to add extra oil for extra protection. Because the skin is also inflamed when it is irritated, this oil often gets trapped in the pores. This causes blackheads and whiteheads with facial acne, but with chest acne, bacteria often live in the pores. When they close up due to inflammation and there’s an influx in oil, the number of bacteria in the pore increases, there’s a small infection, and a pimple is created.
Not all irritation automatically leads to acne, but if you’re looking for how to get rid of chest acne, the first step is to reduce irritation when possible.
Common Sources of Chest Irritation
Many different things could be causing irritation that leads to chest acne, but one of the most popular sources of irritation is clothing. There are several different ways clothing can impact chest acne. Another common reason for chest irritation and chest acne is shaving the chest.
- Tight sports uniforms
- Harsh laundry detergent
- Shaving the chest
Wearing a tight uniform or shaving your chest are not guarantees that you will have chest acne, but if you have chest acne, you may want to consider changing laundry detergents or switching from shaving cream to shaving gel.
Chest Acne and Tight Sports Uniforms
Many sports involve tight uniforms or heavy pads, both of which can create friction and irritation on the chest. Although reducing irritation is one of the best solutions for how to get rid of chest acne, you can’t play football without pads, and most players of any sport, especially at a junior high or high school level, don’t get a huge say in how the uniforms are meant to fit. Even if you can’t make sports uniforms less tight, there are other ways to reduce uniform-related irritation and chest acne.
Our first tip is to shower as soon as possible after a practice or game. While showering, keep the temperature warm, but not hot, and do not scrub at the chest. The goal is simply to rinse off the excess oil and sweat, which could contribute to clogged pores, and use warm water to calm the skin and reduce inflammation. One other tip for how to get rid of chest acne caused by tight sports uniforms: use aloe vera. Aloe vera is typically used to soothe a sunburn, but it is a great anti-inflammatory product. After showering, apply a thin layer of aloe vera to your chest or any other area that seems irritated, and it should reduce inflammation and chest acne.
How to Get Rid of Chest Acne by Changing Your Laundry Detergent
Tight clothing can irritate the chest and lead to acne, but even if clothing is loose, it can cause irritation if it’s washed with a harsh detergent. Although many people aren’t bothered by the chemicals used in some laundry detergents, sometimes they can cause itchiness, irritation, and acne.
Although changing your laundry detergent is unlikely to get rid of chest acne entirely, it could provide a significant improvement. If you suspect that your laundry detergent could be playing a role in your chest acne, try using a fabric softener or switch to a fragrance-free detergent with as few chemicals as possible. Fragrance chemicals are often very irritating, so they are the first chemical we suggest cutting out if you think your laundry detergent could be contributing to your chest and body acne.
How to Avoid Irritation Caused by Shaving
It’s obvious that shaving can irritate the skin—after all, we shave by pulling a razor blade across our skin. That’s why many people use shaving cream, but that may not be enough to prevent acne. If you shave your chest, your shaving habits could be contributing to your chest acne.
Although shaving cream is meant to reduce irritation, for some people, it may actually make irritation worse. Shaving cream contains chemicals that make the cream foam up into a nice lather, and those chemicals can cause irritation. Not all chemicals are bad—if you break it down, everything is made of chemicals. But the chemicals that make shaving cream foamy are too harsh for some people’s skin.
To prevent this irritation, we recommend switching to a fragrance-free shaving gel. Shaving gels don’t contain the foaming chemicals that make shaving creams too harsh for some people, and a fragrance-free gel avoids the same irritating fragrance chemicals found in some laundry detergents.
How to Get Rid of Chest Acne Using Acne Products
Preventing chest acne is almost always easier than treating it, but you can’t prevent every breakout. So what are the best products for chest acne? We recommend an acne-fighting body wash and facial acne treatment products at a higher concentration.
Unlike facial acne, chest acne can typically withstand more aggressive treatment because the epidermis is thicker and less sensitive. But it’s important not to go overboard, since irritation is one of the most common causes of chest acne. Our solution for how to get rid of chest acne without causing more irritation is a body wash containing scientific and natural acne-fighting ingredients. At Exposed Skin Care, we have designed our Body Wash with salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and other quality ingredients known to be effective in treating acne. Salicylic acid is a gentle exfoliating agent which clears away any excess oil that may have been produced due to irritation without causing further irritation, and tea tree oil is a natural essential oil that kills 99% of p. acnes bacteria.
For some people, a good body wash might be the answer for how to get rid of chest acne. Others might benefit from combining an acne-fighting body wash with facial acne products at a higher concentration. Because facial acne and chest acne are caused by the same main factors, they can be treated by similar products. The Body Acne Kit from Exposed contains our Body Wash and our Acne Treatment Serum to get rid of even the toughest chest acne.
Who Gets Chest Acne?
Dermatologists and researchers have not yet discovered what makes one person more likely to have acne than another person, but even if we don’t know why, we do know who is more likely to get chest acne specifically. Having acne in general is a good predictor for chest acne. 45% of people with facial acne also have chest or body acne, while less than 5% of people with no facial acne have chest or body acne. Additionally, some researchers believe there is a racial component.
Some studies show that people of African or Japanese heritage may be more likely to develop chest acne. These are very preliminary studies, so researchers are not sure what could cause this disparity, but it’s important to consider all skin types when researching acne and other skin conditions. One theory about these differences involves how different countries make their clothes.
In the United States, clothing can be made with a considerable amount of formaldehyde, a chemical that can prevent wrinkles and help cloth hold onto its color for a longer amount of time. This isn’t a problem for most people raised in the U.S., but if you have moved to the U.S. and only started developing chest acne after the fact, you may have a slight formaldehyde allergy. In other countries, including Japan and some African countries like Nigeria, Tunisia, and South Africa, formaldehyde in clothing is more strictly regulated. Before coming to the U.S., you may have never been around enough formaldehyde to have a reaction, but once exposed to the extra formaldehyde in U.S. clothing, your skin may have been irritated, resulting in chest acne and/or allergic dermatitis.
Dermatitis vs. Chest Acne
If you have red bumps on your chest, it could be chest acne, but it could also be something called dermatitis. For those with a formaldehyde allergy or other textile-based allergy, it could be allergic dermatitis, but another popular form of dermatitis is contact dermatitis.
Dermatitis is a skin condition that involves a red, itchy rash, usually occurring due to irritation or allergy. Allergic dermatitis is caused by an allergy, and contact dermatitis occurs when something irritating comes into contact with the skin. Sometimes dermatitis looks like small blisters or a scaly rash, but other times it can look like small red bumps that could be confused for acne. Dermatitis and chest acne require very different treatments though, so it’s important to determine which you’re dealing with. If you aren’t sure, a dermatologist should be able to tell the difference relatively quickly.
Unfortunately, dermatitis and chest acne sometimes go together. Both are caused or worsened by irritation, so if something is irritating your skin, it could cause both dermatitis and chest acne. Although chest acne can typically be treated with stronger acne-fighting products, chest acne combined with dermatitis should be treated more gently.