Skip to Content

What Are The Causes Of Acne On Shoulders?

Acne on the shoulders is an annoying and often embarrassing skin condition that can have an effect on your self-confidence. But what are the causes of acne on shoulders, and how can you prevent breakouts on your shoulders?

I’m going to explain the reasons for acne on your shoulders, and what you can to treat them, and prevent them, so keep on reading to find out more…

What Are The Causes Of Acne On Shoulders?

What Causes Shoulder Acne?

Acne on your shoulders, just like any other part of your body, occurs when hair follicles become blocked with oil and dead skin cells. The precise cause of your shoulder pimples and acne lesions, could be numerous factors.

Hormonal fluctuations are a common culprit where an increase in hormones called androgens can cause the oil glands under your skin to grow.

The enlarged gland produces more sebum—an oily substance—increasing the chance for hair follicles to clog up, leading to acne.

Diet is another factor that may contribute to shoulder breakouts. Foods high in refined sugars or carbohydrates such as bread and chips may exacerbate acne conditions.

Next up is friction or pressure on your skin from tight clothing or heavy backpacks—commonly referred to as ‘acne mechanica.’ It can cause excess sweat and irritation leading to breakouts on your shoulders.

Lastly, poor hygiene practices like not showering after a sweaty workout can leave dirt and oil on the skin surface, contributing towards acne formation.

Acne Vulgaris Vs Acne Mechanica – What Is The Difference?

These two are distinct types of acne that can occur on various parts of your body, including your shoulders.

Acne Vulgaris is the most common form of acne. It involves inflammation and infection in your skin’s pores due to an overproduction of sebum or oil by the skin’s glands.

This excess sebum gets trapped within your pores, causing them to clog up and become inflamed, which then leads to acne breakouts.

Typical causes include hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, or a diet high in sugars and fats.

On the other hand:

  • Acne Mechanica is triggered by heat, pressure, friction or repetitive physical irritation against the skin.
  • Heat and sweat can cause your pores to open up more than usual. If you’re not careful with hygiene during these times (like after a workout), bacteria can get into those opened pores easily.
  • Pressure from tight clothing or equipment like backpack straps (a prime reason for cases of acne on shoulders) can also irritate your skin, leading to breakouts.
  • Friction caused by rubbing against rough materials may stimulate more oil production, thereby worsening acne.

Remember though that both forms are treatable with proper skincare routine, medication if necessary, dietary changes and stress management techniques.

Acne Vulgaris Vs Acne Mechanica - What Is The Difference?

What Are The Causes Of Acne On Shoulders?

Acne on the shoulders can be an embarrassing condition, but understanding its causes can help you better manage and prevent it.

The main cause of shoulder acne or back acne (bacne)  is the overproduction of sebum – an oily substance that helps protect your skin.

When there’s too much sebum production, dead skin cells stick together inside the pore instead of rising to the surface. As a result, these clogged pores develop into various forms of acne.

Another major factor causing acne on shoulders is friction or pressure brought about by tight clothes or heavy backpacks.

This type of acne is known as ‘Acne Mechanica’. Other potential triggers include hormonal fluctuations, stress, poor hygiene practices and certain medications.

Causes Description Prevention
Overproduction Of Sebum Too much oil traps dead skin cells in pores. Regularly wash with gentle cleanser
Friction/Pressure (Acne Mechanica) Tight clothing or heavy bags irritate skin. Wear loose clothing; limit bag weight
Hormonal Fluctuations Increased hormones during adolescence or menstrual cycle cause more oil production. Consult doctor for hormone regulation
Stress High stress levels may increase oil production. Practice stress management techniques
Poor Hygiene/Medications Not showering after sweating or certain drugs can trigger breakouts. Shower regularly; consult doctor if medication-related

Keep these causes in mind as you develop your skincare routine. Remember: regular cleansing and choosing non-irritating fabrics can significantly lower your risk for shoulder acne.

If over-the-counter treatments aren’t effective or if you have severe acne, don’t hesitate to consult a dermatologist who can provide more targeted treatment options.

How To Prevent Types Of Shoulder Acne

Some causes and treatments for shoulder acne include hormonal changes, excessive sweating, and poor hygiene. The first step towards prevention is understanding the triggers.

To prevent shoulder acne, you should maintain good hygiene habits like regular bathing with antibacterial soap or a salicylic acid-based body wash.

This helps remove excess oil and dead skin cells that clog pores, leading to breakouts.

Don’t forget to shower immediately after exercising or any activity that causes you to sweat heavily as this can exacerbate acne.

Wearing breathable clothing can also help manage and prevent various types of shoulder acne.

Opt for loose, cotton clothing instead of tight-fitting garments made from synthetic materials that trap heat and moisture against your skin, creating an ideal environment for bacteria growth.

A balanced diet is another essential part of preventing shoulder acne. Evidence suggests that consuming high glycemic foods (foods which rapidly raise blood sugar levels) may contribute to breakouts due to their influence on hormone regulation and inflammation.

Topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or retinoids can be beneficial in managing existing spots while preventing new ones from forming.

However, always remember to consult a dermatologist before starting any new skincare regimen; they will guide you through the process considering your specific needs.

How To Help Get Rid Of Shoulder Acne

Acne on your back can be just as stubborn as facial acne. But don’t fret–there are many treatments available to treat acne, and help prevent new breakouts.

Use an over-the-counter body wash containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These two ingredients are known for their effectiveness in fighting acne-causing bacteria and helping unclog pores.

Remember to rinse thoroughly, as residue could aggravate the breakouts.

Here are a few more strategies you can try:

  • Exfoliate regularly: Using a mild exfoliant 2-3 times a week can help remove dead skin cells that clog pores and develop acne.
  • Wear loose clothing: Tight clothes trap sweat and oil against your skin, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Change bed linens often: Regularly washing your sheets, especially pillowcases, removes accumulated oils that could contribute to shoulder acne.

If these initial steps do not show improvement in your body acne, after several weeks, consider seeking professional treatment for shoulder acne.

Dermatologists may prescribe stronger topical creams or oral medications depending on the severity of the cystic acne condition. Stubborn cases might even benefit from procedures like chemical peels or light therapy.

How To Help Get Rid Of Shoulder Acne

Best Treatments For Acne

Acne can be stubborn and frustrating, but fear not, there are several powerful treatments available that can help manage this common skin condition.

Here’s a quick look at some effective acne treatments:

Treatment How it Works Active Ingredient
Over-the-counter creams/gels Unclog pores, reduce inflammation Benzoyl peroxide
Prescription creams/gels Kill bacteria, decrease oil production Retinoids
Oral Medications Reduce or block oil production in the skin Isotretinoin (Accutane)
Non-prescription cleansers/soaps Shed dead skin cells faster, unclog pores Salicylic acid

Over-the-counter creams and gels often contain benzoyl peroxide, which works by killing bacteria on your skin and reducing inflammation.

Prescription creams or gels often contain retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives that encourage cell turnover and prevent hair follicles from getting clogged.

For more severe cases of acne that doesn’t respond well to topical treatment alone, oral medications like isotretinoin may be prescribed. This powerful medication reduces or even blocks oil production in the skin.

Lastly, non-prescription cleansers or soaps with salicylic acid can also assist in managing your acne.

Salicylic acid helps shed dead skin cells faster and prevents them from clogging up your pores.

Which Home Remedies Can Help With Acne That Appear On The Back And Shoulders?

Commonly seen in adolescents, acne that occurs in this area can be caused by many factors including genetics, hormones, stress, nutrition, and hygiene.

Things like whiteheads and red bumps are signs of acne and people with a particular skin condition called keratosis pilaris may also experience breakouts in these areas as well.

While over-the-counter medications provide some relief from symptoms of back or shoulder acne, there are several home treatments to help clear it up as well.

First, taking regular showers or baths using mild soaps helps keep the skin clean, which prevents further irritation or infection.

Also gently scrubbing the affected area 2-3 times a week will exfoliate dead skin cells, allowing the pores to stay unclogged and prevent further breakouts from occurring.

Applying honey or Aloe Vera can help soothe irritated areas due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties and allow any blemishes heal quicker.

Finally introducing more healthy foods into your diet, like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains while reducing your intake of fatty processed foods could improve your overall health, which would reduce inflammation in the body, making it less likely for acne to form. 

Can A Dermatologist Help Treat Shoulder Acne?

Suffering from shoulder acne can be frustrating, and it’s not always easy to identify the causes of acne on shoulders. It could be due to hormonal fluctuations, excessive sweating, or even your diet.

A dermatologist is a skin specialist who can help diagnose the exact reasons behind your predicament and prescribe an effective treatment plan tailored specifically for you.

They have extensive knowledge about various skin conditions and are well-informed about the latest research and treatments in dermatology.

Often, over-the-counter products may not prove effective against stubborn shoulder acne. This is where a dermatologist can step in with medical-grade solutions that penetrate deeper into your skin, targeting the root cause of your acne problem.

They might recommend topical treatments like retinoids or antibiotics, oral medications, or even procedures such as chemical peels or laser therapy depending upon the severity of your condition.

Remember that everyone’s skin responds differently to treatments – what works wonders for one person may not necessarily work for another.

Therefore, seeking professional help is recommended, in treating shoulder acne effectively without causing damage to your skin.

Are There Specific Dietary Habits that Can Contribute to Shoulder Acne?

Are There Specific Dietary Habits that Can Contribute to Shoulder Acne?

Yes, your diet can indeed play a role in shoulder acne. Consuming high-glycemic foods and dairy may potentially aggravate acne conditions according to some studies.

These foods spike your blood sugar levels, causing your body to produce more insulin, leading to increased sebum production, which can clog pores and cause acne.

However, keep in mind that everyone’s body responds differently, so it’s best to consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice.

How Does Stress Influence the Occurrence of Acne on The Shoulders?

Stress triggers your body to produce more hormones like cortisol, which can cause your sebaceous glands to overproduce oil. This excess oil clogs up your pores, leading to acne outbreaks.

Your shoulders aren’t immune to this process. Evidence suggests that stress also slows wound healing, so once you’ve got shoulder acne, it may take longer for the spots to clear up if you’re stressed.

Make sure you manage stress levels for healthier skin.

Can Hormonal Changes Cause Acne on Shoulders, Similar to Facial Acne?

Hormonal changes can cause acne on your shoulders, just like facial acne. Hormones stimulate oil glands to produce more sebum, clogging pores and leading to breakouts.

This is common during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or due to certain medications. It’s vital to maintain good hygiene and seek dermatological advice if the condition persists.

Remember, everyone’s skin reacts differently to hormonal fluctuations, so treatments will vary individually.


Can Allergies to Certain Fabrics or Laundry Detergents Cause Shoulder Acne?

Allergies to certain fabrics or laundry detergents can cause shoulder acne.

These allergies trigger an inflammatory response in your skin resulting in acneiform eruptions, similar to regular acne. This is known as contact dermatitis.

Make sure you identify and avoid these allergens. Opt for hypoallergenic laundry products and breathable fabrics like cotton to minimize irritation.

Is There a Correlation Between Shoulder Acne and Other Skin Conditions Like Eczema or Psoriasis?

While there’s no direct correlation between shoulder acne and skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, they can coexist.

Skin conditions often indicate an overactive immune system or inflammation, which could exacerbate acne.

However, each condition has unique triggers and treatments. If you’re dealing with persistent shoulder acne alongside eczema or psoriasis, it’s best to consult a dermatologist for individualized treatment options.


Acne on the shoulders can be a problematic and embarrassing skin condition, but it is treatable.

You need to understand the root causes of shoulder acne to develop an individualized treatment plan.

Common causes are hormonal fluctuations, poor hygiene practices, friction from tight clothes or equipment, stress, and diet.

To prevent acne on your back, maintain good hygiene habits like regular bathing with antibacterial soap, wearing loose clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton, avoiding rough materials that may irritate your skin and maintaining a balanced diet.

If symptoms persist despite initial treatments, then consider consulting a dermatologist who can provide more advanced treatments tailored precisely for you.

All products featured on Gemma Etc. are PR samples or gifted items, unless otherwise indicated. This post may contain affiliate links. If you wish to find out more, please see my Disclaimer within my navigation bar.