13 Really Easy Ways To Get Rid of Shoulder Acne

Get Rid of Shoulder Acne

Sleeveless shirts usually mark the beginning of summer. But how can you wear them if you’re suffering from shoulder acne?

In this post, we will be discussing what really causes shoulder acne and ways to prevent it.

As you may know, acne isn’t just limited to the face. It can occur on any part of the body but when it’s located on your shoulders, you might be dealing with something more serious.

You see, the pores on our shoulders are larger than those found on the face. And larger pores only mean one thing: more chances of them being blocked.

You may opt to hide your acne temporarily with makeup. That’s fine, but we believe getting to the root cause of the problem is still the best.

Below are simple ways on how to get rid of shoulder acne that you can easily do at home.

What Causes Shoulder Acne

Shoulder acne is more common than you think. But in general, in a study made in 2014, more or less 80% of people from 11 to 30 have experienced breakouts in one way or another.

13 Really Easy Ways To Get Rid of Shoulder Acne

If having acne on your face is enough to drive you nuts, we don’t see why shoulder acne should be treated a little less.

Having acne says a lot about your personal hygiene. So whether it’s in visible areas of the body or not, it should cause the same level of concern.

Overproduction of Oils


Just like regular acne, shoulder acne is caused by overactive oil glands. Facial acne is common but if you’re suffering from shoulder acne, your problem might be much worse.

The shoulders and the back have a lot of sebaceous glands. They produce sebum which helps protect the skin but when there’s an overproduction of sebum, that’s when bad things happen.

Excess sebum can mix with bacteria and dead skin cells found around the hair follicles. This, in turn, blocks them and ultimately leads to acne.

Acne lesions can be categorized into six types:


These are follicles that are blocked completely. This leads to the development of white bumps.

They are also called closed comedones. Luckily, they are easily treated by over-the-counter medications.

But if you think whiteheads are already a lot to deal with, think again.


They’re just the “easiest” to deal with, and it becomes even worse.


These are like whiteheads except that they are closed. Oxidation in the air causes them to have a black color.

Blackheads are those icky stuff commonly found around the nose. They are difficult to get rid of and may need some special equipment or masks to get them out of your pores.

Papules happen when the pores are super irritated that the walls of the hair follicle break down. This leads to inflamed and red bumps that are hard and rough to the touch.

In most instances, when these develop on our body, it is the only time we begin to be alarmed. They are sensitive to the touch and having them means you have moderate to severe acne.


Like papules, pustules are also inflamed red bumps except they contain yellow or white pus. They are what we refer to as pimples or zits.

They are another type of pimple that are inflamed. It is not recommended to squeeze or pick them because doing so will lead to dark spots or scars.

Larger than papules, nodules happen when lesions develop under clogged, irritated pores. They are hard and very painful and can only be felt underneath the skin.

When you develop this lesion, it is best to visit a dermatologist right away. Over-the-counter medications may be too weak to get rid of them completely.

Cysts are like nodules in nature. The only difference is they’re much softer since they contain pus.

These lesions look a lot like boils and signal that you should really see a dermatologist. Having nodules and cysts indicate that you have a severe case of acne.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to acne. These include puberty (that’s why it’s more common in teens,) heredity, greasy makeup, and even too much coffee.

On the other hand, acne can be categorized into the following types:

Acne Mechanica

This type of acne is common among people leading an active lifestyle. Blocked hair follicles caused by sweat leads to the formation of a comedone.

If there is repetitive friction over the skin, pores become irritated which leads to pustules and papules. This can be avoided by limiting the use of accessories that keep sweat near the skin.

This includes backpacks, shoulder pads, and clothes that are too tight.

Mild Acne

You have mild acne if there are less than 20 whiteheads or blackhead, less than 15 inflamed bumps, or less than 30 lesions. This can easily be treated with over-the-counter products.

It usually takes up to 8 weeks to see an improvement.

Moderate Acne

You fall under this category if you have 20-100 blackheads or whiteheads, 15-50 inflamed bumps, or 30-125 lesions. You may need to see a dermatologist to have them treated.

You will then be given some prescription medicines. Acne may worsen before you see any improvement, and it may take a few weeks before you see any difference.

Severe Nodulocystic Acne

This is characterized by having several cysts or nodules.They may turn purple or red and leave scars.

Visiting a dermatologist immediately can help reduce the appearance of scars. On the other hand, corticosteroids may be injected by your doctor to minimize their size and the pain.

Acne Conglobata

This is one of acne’s most severe forms. It is characterized by a number of inflamed nodules that are often seen on the buttocks, arms, chest, and neck.

It is more common in men and is often the result of taking testosterone and steroids. This type of acne leads to scarring, so a visit to the dermatologist is recommended.

Skin Irritations

Common household items are loaded with harmful chemicals. That’s why it’s crucial to always check the ingredients list first before buying your supplies.

This applies to your fabric softeners and laundry detergents. The same goes for products for personal hygiene like body washes, face washes, shampoos, and face moisturizers.

This is why it’s important to choose ones specially developed for skin prone to acne. This list is a great help to know which ones you could trust. 

How to Get Rid of Shoulder Acne (or Prevent it)

Shoulder acne isn’t that difficult to deal with. All it takes is some lifestyle changes and some tweaks in your personal hygiene, and you’ll get along just fine.


1. Take a Bath Regularly

This is especially true after working out. Bathing in lukewarm water helps get rid of oil, bacteria, and sweat that can clog the pores and thus, cause acne.

Just make sure to use a body wash that’s oil-free and one that has 2% salicylic acid. Scrubbing the skin too much will only make matters worse, so be as gentle as possible.

You can also try exfoliating once or twice a week. Exfoliators help by removing dead skin cells and any gunk that blocks the pores.

Rinse yourself completely because any left-over product will only cause clogged pores. Limit your baths to only twice a day to avoid drying your skin out.

Also remember that cold baths open the pores, while hot baths allow them to close.

2. Avoid Ill-Fitting Clothes

See to it that your clothes are lightweight, loose-fitting, and most importantly, clean. Opt for clothes made of cotton which can help in reducing sweat.

This is a must particularly for brassieres, tops, and t-shirts.

3. Pick Laundry Powders Carefully

Commercial detergents are often loaded with harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritation. This is why some people would rather go natural than take the risk.

For instance, go for brands made for sensitive skin. These are usually free of toxic chemicals and fragrances that could harm the skin.

4. Replace Bed Sheets Regularly

Bed sheets should be replaced at least one or two times a week to avoid bacterial build up. Go for sheets that are made of cotton that, again, helps in reducing sweat.

Also, be mindful of the detergent you use. Make sure they’re not loaded with chemicals to avoid irritating the skin.

5. Avoid Too Much Pressure

On your shoulders, that is.

Examples include purse straps and/or backpacks. However, if it can’t be avoided, wear a t-shirt made of cotton to avoid too much sweating.

6. Avoid Popping Them

We know how hard it is. But try to resist the temptation as it can only make matters worse.

Squeezing the zits will only infect the area even more. By pushing the pus deeper into the skin, you’re only allowing permanent scars to happen.

7. Use Over-the-Counter Creams

Creams that treat acne work by reducing bacteria and skin inflammation. A cream with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is the lowest, is a good place to start.

If you have sensitive skin, creams with 5-10% concentration may be too harsh for you.

You can also opt for creams containing alpha hydroxyl acid or retinol. They treat and prevent shoulder acne by removing dead skin cells and unclogging the pores.

These also help moisturize the skin, particularly dry skin brought by keratosis pilaris. Stay away from moisturizers that are oil-based and look for ones labeled as noncomedogenic instead.

It means they’re less likely to cause clogged pores.

Home Remedies

These are treatments involving vegetables, spices, or other ingredients found at home. Below are ways on how to treat shoulder acne with things you probably already have in your kitchen.

8. Use a turmeric face mask

Turmeric is known for its antibacterial benefits. It effectively fights acne so if you use turmeric masks on your face, why not use one on your shoulders as well?

9. Make an apple cider vinegar rinse

ACV is an effective acne treatment as it contains levels of malic, citric, and lactic acids. It also softens the skin, restores its natural pH balance, and removes dead skin cells.

Just combine one part of ACV and three parts of water. Apply to the affected area and wash it off after 15 minutes.

10 Try a baking soda mask

Baking soda is a natural (and cheap) exfoliant. Simply combine 2 teaspoons baking soda, a teaspoon of cinnamon powder, five teaspoons of honey, and half a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Mix well until you form a paste. Apply to the affected area, let it dry, and then rinse it off with warm water.

11. Spot treat with tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is a known antibacterial. Just soak a cotton ball with the oil and apply directly to the affected area.

For those with sensitive skin, you can try diluting half a teaspoon of the oil in three teaspoons of water first.

12. Use neem leaves in an acne face pack

Neem fruit, root bark, and stem have astringent and tonic properties which make them effective against acne. Simply crush some leaves and combine it with a teaspoon of turmeric powder.

Apply it to the affected area, let it dry, and then rinse off with lukewarm water.

13. Apply fenugreek extract topically

Fenugreek extract is known for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Simply apply the juice to the affected area and wait for 15 minutes before washing it off.

Do this continuously until the acne disappears. Alternately, you can also mix some yogurt with crushed fenugreek seeds and apply it to the affected area.


Getting rid of shoulder acne does not happen overnight.

No, it doesn’t work that way.

However, knowing what triggers your acne is a great help in putting an end to it for good. Knowing how to get rid of shoulder acne starts with the right knowledge and the discipline.

As we’ve mentioned, a simple lifestyle change can really make a huge difference.

Not to mention, choosing the right products helps, too. Remember that no product fits all, so be mindful that those you use are free of ingredients that make your acne even worse.

How do you deal with shoulder acne? What other tips can you add to get rid of it?

Dr Kathleen May Eusebio-Alpapara

A board-certified dermatologist who practices both medical and cosmetic dermatology

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