While annoying, a pimple on the breast can be a normal occurrence. Acne can often develop in any area on the skin with a high number of sebaceous glands, like the face, chest, and back. A pimple on the breast can develop from different situations, including changes in the skin microbiome, circulating hormones, and possibly other disease conditions.
A pimple on the breast can develop from changes in the skin microbiome, hormones, and other conditions.
It can be normal to have a pimple on your breast, especially when sweating and friction are involved.
Healthcare providers can treat pimples on your chest with topical or oral medications or by procedures when indicated.
Are pimples on the breast normal?
It is very normal to develop pimples on the breast. The tissue on the chest often faces many factors that promote bacteria growth. Moist environments from sweat and heat and clothing like bras or tight-fitting shirts increase the risk of skin damage, promoting acne development.
If you're concerned breast acne isn't normal, consult a dermatologist. Even though acne seems easily recognizable, other factors can sometimes contribute to its development.
Conditions that can be confused with acne are:
- Pityrosporum folliculitis (PF). A condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast that is usually part of the skin microbiome.
- Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). A chronic inflammatory skin condition of the hair follicles of sweat glands. Although it usually affects areas like the underarm, groin, buttocks, or upper thighs, women can also have them develop under their breasts.
- Drug-induced acne (DIA). DIA can be caused by oral, topical, and even some inhaled medications.
- Acne conglobata (AC). AC is a rare form of acne that usually presents with interconnecting abscesses. The cause of AC might be from androgenic anabolic steroids and can be common in bodybuilders.
Why pimples develop on the breast
The skin on your breast is similar to the skin on your face because there are glands present that secrete sebum. Typically, acne on your face happens when there is an excess of sebum from the glands. However, the skin on your breast may develop pimples for other reasons.
Alteration of the skin microbiome
Our skin has a normal balance of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and others, that usually live harmoniously with each other. These microorganisms can influence the immune system's response when one is more present than the other, leading to pimples and acne.
Certain factors can affect the skin microbiome that is outside the body. These extrinsic factors are:
- Physical activity
- Air and water pollution
- Exposure to chemicals
- Sunlight or UV radiation
- Amount of nutrients available for microorganisms
Abnormal cell turnover
Our bodies have a normal breakdown of old cells and regrowth of new cells. When there becomes a disruption in the normal cell turnover, it can affect the hair follicle. The sebum can become blocked when there is an increased rate of new cell formation and a decreased rate of cell shedding.
This blockage will lead to a large amount of debris collecting in the follicles. The result of this process can lead to acne on the breasts.
Effects of circulating hormones
Usually, hormones can trigger a breakout in acne on your skin because of puberty. Certain factors can increase chest acne within the body, either from a disease process or hormonal therapy.
The use of testosterone
Women may need testosterone therapy for the treatment of low sexual desire, and a transgender person who is transitioning and receiving testosterone may experience an increase in pimples on the breast or chest area.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome cause a dysfunction of the ovaries. When this dysfunction happens, the ovaries release more amounts of testosterone. This excess in testosterone can increase acne or pimples on your chest.
Treatment options for breast pimples
Researchers are still exploring acne that develops on the chest. So at this time, the treatment for chest acne and face acne will look alike.
Treatments often prescribed by a healthcare provider are:
- Topical medications. Retinoids, benzoyl peroxide (BPO), azelaic acid, and topical antibiotics are often used either in combination or alone.
- Antibiotics taken by mouth. This treatment uses antibiotics for moderate to severe acne that has not responded to topical therapy.
- Birth control pills. Used with a medication called spironolactone, this combination reduces the levels of androgens in your body, decreasing the amount of stimulation the oil glands receive.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT). The PDT treatment uses lights and lasers to treat acne skin after applying a particular medication for 15 minutes to three hours.
Talking with a dermatologist will help determine which therapy is best to treat your problem based on the severity of symptoms and the treatments you have already tried.
Home remedies for breast pimples
If the number of pimples on your breast is not overly bothersome and you have no signs of infection like tenderness, warmth, or puss, you can try some techniques to rid yourself of this nuisance.
- Supplement your diet with more vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, E, and zinc. These vitamins are important in maintaining immune function and healthy skin and can also provide oxidation.
- Topical botanicals like tea tree oil and green tea can have antimicrobial effects and anti-inflammatory properties. Try testing them on a small area of your skin first to make sure you don't experience a reaction.
- Try taking daily probiotics. The use of probiotics to treat acne still needs more research; however, some studies have found probiotics can be beneficial in treating acne.
- Creams infused with hemp seed extracts have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect cells from toxic debris naturally and safely.
- Increase your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease inflammation and the hormones that produce acne.
Tips for preventing breast pimples
Preventing a breakout is always easier than fixing the breakout. Try these steps to avoid developing a pimple on the breast:
- Decrease the amount of sweat your chest encounters. Wear loose-fitting clothes made of cotton, and make sure to wash them. Shower after sweating or use oil-free cleansing wipes to clean the area.
- Clean the skin on your breast gently. Avoid harsh scrubbing, which could increase cell damage and further block the pores. Use gentle, fragrance-free skin care products.
- Use oil-free skin care products and lotions. These products will reduce the amount of clogged pores on your chest.
- If you must wear a bra, get fitted properly to ensure it doesn't cause friction. You should also regularly clean your bras to reduce bacteria growth.
A pimple on the breast can be normal because the skin on our chest acts like the skin on our face. Certain situations may make a person more prone to getting a breast pimple, like hormones, abnormal skin cell turnover, and a disruption in the normal organism seen on the skin.
Depending on the severity, medications can help eliminate a breast pimple, and you can also try home remedies. Sometimes, simply preventing the development of pimples is possible. Talking with your healthcare provider can help start treatment if needed and avoid emotional distress.
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Show all references
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. Back Acne: How To See Clearer Skin.
- J Inflamm Res. The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Acne.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. Is That Stubborn Acne Really Acne?