How to get rid of shoulder acne?

shoulder acne
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mavra Farrukh

Key Takeaways

  • Understand how ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide work to clear your skin.
  • Learn about lifestyle changes that can contribute to clearer skin, including dietary considerations, stress management, and proper hygiene practices.
  • Additional treatments beyond topical medications include light therapy, chemical peels, or microdermabrasion.


Shoulder acne is a common and bothersome issue for many people. Face acne keeps stealing the spotlight, so nobody talks about the irritating shoulder acne, which can be extremely discomforting sometimes. To get rid of acne on your shoulders, you need to know what causes it. Acne can appear anywhere on the body, including on uneven parts like the shoulders. 

The blog offers practical tips for dealing with shoulder acne, creating a skincare routine, and understanding the importance of using high-quality products consistently. From basic face washes to advanced targeted treatments, you will find all the information you need to develop a personalized skincare regimen.

Are you feeling pain due to shoulder acne? Consult a doctor now!

Why do I have acne on my shoulders?

Acne on the shoulders can have many causes, and the key to effective management is identifying these triggers. One main factor is genetics; for example, if acne runs in your family, you might be more likely to get acne on your shoulders.

Environmental variables that promote pore blockage include perspiration and high humidity, which can also play a role. Tight garments or accessories, such as a backpack’s straps, can also cause friction, worsening the issue.

Additional factors that can lead to the development of acne on the shoulders include hormonal changes commonly seen during puberty or as a result of specific medical conditions. To effectively manage and prevent shoulder acne, it is important first to determine which specific factors are relevant to your situation.

Types of acne on the shoulders

Before you can figure out how to treat your shoulder acne, you must know what kind of acne it is. Knowing the types of acne on your shoulders can help you develop a skincare regimen that works for you since different types may respond better to different treatments. Different forms of shoulder acne call for different methods of treatment.

  • Blackheads: These are characterized by open pores with dark centers and are a common occurrence.
  • Whiteheads: These are the ones with closed clogged pores that are also prevalent. 
  • Papules and pustules: This kind of shoulder acne can be red and inflamed, leaving pus-filled lesions.
  • Nodules and cysts: These are more severe lesions that delve deeper into the skin and can be painful.
Are you feeling pain due to shoulder acne? Consult a doctor now!

How to get rid of shoulder acne?

Good skincare routines and lifestyle changes are required to effectively manage and eliminate shoulder acne. To begin, wash your shoulders gently with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser. It is best not to scrub too vigorously to avoid acne, which can cause skin irritation.

Be sure to include a body wash targeting acne with ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Showering right after perspiring, particularly after exercising, is best to clear pores. 

To lessen the friction and irritation, choose loose-fitting, breathable garments. Also, keep out of the sun as much as possible; it can aggravate acne. Maintaining a regular schedule and consulting a dermatologist for tailored advice are important.

Medications for shoulder acne

If you suffer from acne on your shoulders, you may find relief with one of several over-the-counter or prescription remedies. Clear your pores, reduce inflammation, and stimulate skin renewal with topical treatments of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinoids.

In more serious instances, a dermatologist might recommend oral antibiotics that eradicate the bacteria causing acne. For some women, hormonal treatments or oral contraceptives may be the best option, particularly if they are experiencing hormonal acne.

One powerful oral medication, Isotretinoin, is also prescribed for stubborn, extremely severe, and long-lasting cases, and its possible side effects necessitate close observation.

Are you feeling pain due to shoulder acne? Consult a doctor now!

Other treatment options

When it comes to controlling shoulder acne, there are options beyond the usual pharmaceuticals. Blue or laser light therapy can kill acne-causing germs and lessen inflammation. 

Exfoliation and pore unclogging are two benefits of chemical peels, which use solutions such as alpha or beta hydroxy acids. Mechanical exfoliation, also known as microdermabrasion, can have positive effects. Improving one’s skincare routine, eating healthier, and reducing stress are all factors in maintaining healthy skin.

Alternative treatments may sound appealing, but you should talk to a dermatologist first to ensure they are right. Because every person’s skin is different, finding a treatment for shoulder acne that works for everyone requires a tailored strategy.

Consult a doctor

Although there are numerous methods and over-the-counter remedies for dealing with shoulder acne, it is essential to know when to consult a dermatologist. See a dermatologist if your shoulder acne doesn’t go away even after you have tried several at-home remedies or if you find any indications of infection. 

A qualified professional can diagnose the acne type you are experiencing after a comprehensive skin evaluation and provide treatment recommendations based on that diagnosis. Professionally, they can advise you on possible side effects, prescribe stronger medications, and treat you in the office.

Remember that your skin differs from anyone else’s and that your skincare routine may differ completely from theirs. A thorough and effective strategy for managing and treating shoulder acne can be obtained by consulting a doctor who can provide personalized recommendations based on your skin type, medical history, and lifestyle.

Are you feeling pain due to shoulder acne? Consult a doctor now!

Other questions about shoulder acne

Can you pop shoulder acne?

It is usually advised against popping acne on the shoulders. Infection and scarring may result from bacteria introduced through poking. It is best to treat acne on the shoulders with topical treatments that are both effective and gentle, and if that fails, a trip to the dermatologist may be in order.

How do I get rid of acne scars on my shoulders?

Acne scars on the shoulders can be treated with topical creams that contain retinoids, vitamin C, or alpha hydroxy acids. For more serious cases, dermatologists may recommend laser therapy or chemical peels.

Does exfoliating help with acne?

By removing dead skin cells and keeping pores clear, exfoliating can lessen the likelihood of acne. Try something with glycolic acid or salicylic acid for a mild exfoliant. On the other hand, exfoliating too much might aggravate acne by irritating the skin.

Can certain fabrics or clothing worsen shoulder acne?

Sure, sweating more can worsen acne on the shoulders, which is often due to wearing tight or synthetic clothes. Avoid friction-causing tight straps or backpacks, and wear loose, breathable fabrics like cotton.

Is shoulder acne related to diet?

Certain foods, such as dairy or high-glycemic foods, may contribute to acne for some people, although the relationship between diet and acne is complicated and differs among individuals. Think about eating a varied and balanced diet and keeping track of your skin’s reactions to various foods.

Can stress worsen shoulder acne?

Yes, stress can worsen acne by triggering hormonal changes that affect the skin. Maintaining healthy skin requires stress management strategies like exercise, enough sleep, and relaxation techniques.

How long does it take for shoulder acne to clear up?

The time it takes for shoulder acne to clear up varies based on factors such as the severity of the acne, treatment effectiveness, and individual skin responses. Consistent skin care practices and treatment can contribute to improvement over several weeks to months.

Are there specific skincare products for shoulder acne?

Look for body washes or cleansers containing acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Additionally, a non-comedogenic moisturizer can help maintain skin hydration without clogging pores. A dermatologist can recommend specific products based on skin type and condition.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

Duvall, G., Kaveeshwar, S., Sood, A., Klein, A., Williams, K., Kolakowski, L., … & Gilotra, M. N. (2020). Benzoyl peroxide use transiently decreases Cutibacterium acnes load on the shoulder. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery29(4), 794-798.

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