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How Breast Acne Happens (Plus What to Do About It)

 A woman who successfully treated her breast acne confidently wears a black bikini as she floats in a pool.

No matter what you’re up to this summer, whether it be hitting the beach, catching a concert, or attending a wedding, nothing kills the vibe faster than acne.

In these situations, acne on your breasts is especially annoying. Keep scrolling to learn all about breast acne, where it comes from, and what you can do about it.

How Does Acne Form?

Before we discuss breast acne, let’s review how acne forms. This will provide you with a better base of knowledge to tackle the causes of breast acne.

Your skin contains tiny follicles from which hair grows and emerges. There are hair follicles all over your body, except on your palms and the bottoms of your feet.

When your skin is healthy and functioning as it should, glands attached to these follicles — called sebaceous glands — produce sebum, an oily substance that lubricates and protects the skin. The sebaceous glands deposit the sebum into the hair follicles, which then deliver the oil to the surface of your skin.

However, in some cases, the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum, which clogs the hair follicles. The excess sebum mixes with dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria. When your immune system responds to the invasion, you’ll see inflammation, redness, and a pus-filled lump — in other words, acne.


How Does Breast Acne Form?

Now that you understand how acne forms on your skin, we can focus on breast acne.

Acne can form anywhere on the body there are hair follicles. The most common areas are the face, neck, shoulders, back, and chest.

Acne on your breasts could be a sign that you’re suffering from hormonal acne. Hormonal acne occurs as a result of hormone fluctuations in the body that cause an overproduction of sebum. If you suffer from hormonal acne, you might notice breakouts happening on the same body part over and over again, such as your breasts. 

If you menstruate, you may notice hormonal acne breakouts in the same areas around the same time each month. Hormonal acne on your breasts may also occur during pregnancy as a result of extreme hormone fluctuations. Hormonal disorders, such as PCOS, can lead to similar breakouts on your chest. 

If you suspect your breast acne is a symptom of an underlying medical condition, schedule a visit with your physician or OB-GYN. They can review your hormone levels, diagnose any adverse conditions, and discuss treatment options with you.

Infographic: How Breast Acne Happens (Plus What to Do About It)

Treatment and Prevention of Breast Acne

The news is, you can treat and prevent breast acne the same way you’d treat and prevent acne on other parts of your body. Keep in mind that the skin on your breasts may be more sensitive to products with harsh active ingredients.

Also, if you are in the process of breastfeeding, be sure to use caution and check labels to determine which products are safe to use.

Beyond that, follow these general guidelines for the treatment and prevention of breast acne:

  • Opt for oil-free skincare products, including moisturizers, sunscreens, and cosmetic products.
  • Wash your breasts along with your face and neck in the morning and at night. Hop in the shower after getting sweaty. Don’t scrub the area too much, as that could cause irritation and make the acne worse.
  • Start by trying natural products, such as those made with tea tree oil and topical zinc. If natural products don’t work, try over-the-counter products with other active ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Over-the-counter light therapy devices designed to treat acne are a great option if you prefer not to use a cream or gel on your breasts.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing against your chest whenever possible. This reduces the amount of oil and sweat the becomes trapped in the area, and minimizes the possibility of acne mechanica.
  • Always wear sunscreen when enjoying the sun.

If over-the-counter treatment options don’t cut it, talk to your doctor about prescription options.


Breast Acne or Cancer?

If you’re noticing changes to the skin of your breasts, you may be worried about breast cancer. Fortunately, pimples on your breast are not typically a sign of cancer.

If you notice a bump, lesion, or irritated patch of skin on your breast and you’re not sure what it is, pay close attention to it. Issues like pimples, bug bites, or irritation from your clothes should resolve over time and heal on their own. A cancerous lesion won’t heal; it will get worse. If a bump or lesion persists longer than a few weeks, it’s time to see your doctor.

If you suspect a cancerous lesion on your breast, follow these basic do’s and don’ts

  • Do treat the spot like a pimple or bug bite if you believe that’s what it is. After all, this is the most likely scenario.
  • Do pay close attention to the lesion and notice if and when it changes.
  • Do tell your doctor about the lesion as soon as possible. A doctor who knows your medical and family history can give you the best advice.
  • Don’t panic. Panicking will lead to stress, and if you’re dealing with acne, stress will add fuel to the fire.
  • Don’t ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Even though a cancer check-up might be terrifying or feel alarmist, bite the bullet and get it taken care of.
  • Don’t keep this experience to yourself. Even a slight chance a tiny bump could be cancer is very scary. Ask trusted friends or loved ones for support.  

Quote: How Breast Acne Happens (Plus What to Do About It)

Breast Acne Wrap-Up

In most cases, breast acne is a nuisance, but a manageable one. To have acne is to be human. As long as you bring your stellar confidence and your killer smile, no one at the beach, the wedding, the gym, or anywhere else will concern themselves with a little breast acne.

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