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Shoulder acne: Causes and home remedies

Shoulder acne is similar to the one that you probably see on your face. It is a skin problem that can be caused by factors such as hormones and food. We tell you how to get rid of shoulder acne.

Acne is a common skin problem that can affect any part of the body. But it usually appears on the face, chest, neck, back, and shoulders. As the weather gets warmer and we wear clothes that increase skin exposure to sun, there is an increased risk of shoulder acne. It can take numerous forms, ranging from pimples to major cysts. These can be uncomfortable and painful. But you can deal with them with home remedies for shoulder acne. Let us tell you how to get rid of shoulder acne.

What is shoulder acne?

Shoulder acne appears as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the shoulders and upper back. Shoulder acne, just like face acne, happens when oil, dead skin, and bacteria get trapped in your pores. This can be caused by hormones, genes, stress, food, or even things that rub on your shoulders like backpacks or clothes.

A woman with shoulder acne
Shoulder acne may be caused by stress. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

“In Ayurveda, shoulder acne is seen as a result of imbalances in the body’s doshas. Pitta, associated with heat and metabolism, and Kapha, linked to structure and lubrication, are particularly involved. Toxins (ama) building up in the body due to poor digestion, diet, and lifestyle choices also cause skin problems like shoulder acne, says Ayurveda expert Dr Arathi Vasudev.

What are the causes of shoulder acne?

Some of the causes of shoulder acne are:

1. Acne mechanica

This is one of the most common types of acne that appears on the shoulders and back. Acne mechanica, which is caused by friction, is commonly associated with ill-fitting clothing, exercise, and athletic wear, but it can also be caused by something as simple as a poorly fitting rucksack, as per a study published in Acneiform Eruptions in Dermatology in 2014.

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2. Acne vulgaris

Also known as hormonal acne, these lesions form when the skin generates an excessive amount of sebum, or oil, which can clog hair follicles, as per a research published in StatPearls in 2023.

3. Keratosis pilaris

Although not acne, keratosis pilaris can resemble pimples. These bumps occur as patches on the shoulders, back, and upper arms. They are a result of excessive keratin synthesis. The condition is not challenging, but it can be ugly when it covers significant areas of the body, according to a research published in StatPearls in 2023.

4. Hormonal imbalance

“Endocrine disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause hormonal changes which can increase sebum production. This can lead to clogged pores and acne on the shoulders, says the expert.

Home remedies for shoulder acne

You can get rid of shoulder acne with the help of these tips:

1. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil used in skin care products due to the numerous benefits it offers. It helps to treat acne by killing bacteria. You can apply tea tree oil to the affected region and let it sit overnight. The antibacterial properties of tea trees allow products containing tea tree oil to lower the chance of acne lesions in adults, according to an analysis published in the Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics in 2019.

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How to use tea tree oil for shoulder acne? Take 1 tablespoon of tea tree oil ad some cotton balls. Gently massage the cotton balls on the affected areas. Leave it overnight and gently wash it off.

2. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which means it can help reduce the visibility of acne and prevent outbreaks as part of a course of treatment, as per a 2008 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology.

A woman using aloe vera for shoulder acne
Use aloe vera to get rid of shoulder acne. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

To use aloe vera for shoulder acne, simply apply fresh aloe vera gel on your and shoulder acne directly. Massage it until it gets soaked in the body.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is believed to be the oldest acne cure. Curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects that can be used to treat acne, as found in a 2017 study published in the Foods journal.

Take 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix these to make a thick paste. Apply it on your skin for 20 minutes and then wash it.

4. Neem

Neem is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and may reduce shoulder acne.

  • To use neem for shoulder acne, take 1 tablespoon of neem powder and a little water. Make a thick paste, and gently apply it to the affected areas.

5. Triphala

“Triphala, an Ayurvedic herbal formulation known for its detoxifying properties, can be taken as a supplement or applied topically as a paste mixed with water,” says the expert.

Potential side effects can include skin irritation or allergic reactions, especially if the remedies are not applied properly, and gastrointestinal discomfort if herbal supplements are consumed in excessive doses. Also, certain herbs like turmeric or neem may increase photosensitivity, necessitating sun protection measures.

It is vital to exercise caution and consult with a doctor before incorporating any home remedy, as allergic reactions or sensitivities may occur.

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