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Chest Acne: Causes, Prevention & Treatment



Acne is a common skin condition that while commonly seen in younger people; in athletes or active people can affect all age groups.


Athletes are at increased risk of chest acne. The combination of sweat, dirt, and friction can lead to clogging of pores. Plus, sweat on your skin may keep acne-causing bacteria in place.


In this blog post, we will delve into the various causes of chest acne in active people and explore ways to prevent and treat it effectively.



Causes of chest acne



Acne is not a single-issue problem but rather a complex interplay of various factors

It can result from a combination of factors, and these factors can differ from one individual to another. You can experience one or more of the causes that are explained below:



Hormonal Fluctuations


Hormones dictate the amount of sebum (natural skin oil) your sebaceous glands produce.


When hormones fluctuate, especially during puberty or your normal cycle they can impact these glands and increase your risk for chest pimples by clogging your pores.


Hormonal imbalances can also be exacerbated by stress and certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).



Sweating and Friction


Sweating, especially when combined with dirt, and friction from your workout, can contribute to chest acne called sweat pimples.


Sweat creates the perfect environment for pimples by trapping bacteria, and dead skin cells under a moist environment, leading to inflammation and breakouts.


For more information on why sweat causes breakouts in active people you can read our blog post: Does sweat cause acne and sweat pimples?  



Poor Hygiene


Skipping your post-workout shower results in accumulation of sweat and build up which blocks your pores.


For more information on the benefits of showering after a workout read our blog post Showering After Workout and learn how this simple step might be the answer to all of your troubles.



Sports drinks


Many sports drinks contain vitamin B complex which is linked to acne, even though we don’t know the reason behind it.

You can learn more about this condition in the article - Acne related to dietary supplements.



Muscle Building Supplements


Always read the label of your supplements and avoid preparation without the ingredient list, as they might have anabolic-androgenic steroids. They build your muscle mass quickly but can damage your internal hormonal production.



Skincare Products


Using skincare products that are not suitable for your skin type or are comedogenic (tend to clog pores) can also contribute to chest acne.

Some moisturizers, sunscreens, and body lotions contain ingredients that may exacerbate pimples when applied to the chest area.



What does chest acne look like?


Chest acne, like other types of acne, can manifest in various forms.


It begins with whiteheads (tiny small bumps) and blackheads (tiny small bumps with a black dot) that can progress to pustules (pus-filled skin lesions) and papules (red, small bumps that are tender to the touch).


Nodules and cysts are painful breakouts that are “deeper” in the skin have more inflammation and need to be treated by a dermatologist to avoid scarring.


It is common to see different types of acne lesions at the same time (for example: whiteheads and pustules).





For more information and images on how whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, and cysts look like and their differences, you can read the following article from the American Academy of Dermatology Association – Acne: Signs and Symptoms.



How to prevent chest acne?


Many athletes know that once they retake exercise or if they wear certain clothes they will suffer from chest acne. To prevent and skip chest acne consider the following measures and minimize its appearance. 



Maintain Proper Hygiene


- Post-Workout Shower: Always take a shower as promptly as you can. It will remove sweat, dirt, and bacteria that lead to chest pimples.


an after workout body wash for acne was specifically designed for this condition. It contains salicylic acid, an active ingredient that prevents the initial stage of acne by removing the superficial layer of the skin. It also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect.


- Wear Clean Clothes: Ensure that your clothing, especially underwear and workout gear, is clean. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothing that can trap sweat and friction against your skin.

For more information on sweat pimples on active people and how to take care of them, read our blog post - How to get rid of Sweat Pimples? Guide for Athletes 



Use Non-Comedogenic Products


If you have oily skin avoid moisturizers on acne-prone areas, like your chest, as your skin naturally produces hydration. When you use sunscreen use non-comedogenic.


If you want to prevent breakouts from appearing in body areas that you know you’ll get them use a gel for workout acne. Its formula contains salicylic acid and azelaic acid, which accelerate the turnover of the superficial skin layers of your skin, preventing your pores from being clogged. Apply once daily.



Dietary supplements


Supplement-induced chest acne is usually of sudden onset and resolves quickly when the culprit supplements are stopped.

 If you are experiencing an episode of chest acne stop all supplements and see if it gets better.

Remember that vitamins are best absorbed in their natural form (fruits and vegetables).



Balanced Diet and Hydration


A well-balanced diet and proper hydration play a significant role in skin health. Consider the following dietary tips:


  • - Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
  • - Limit High-Glycemic Foods: Reduce your intake of sugary, processed, and high-glycemic foods, as they may contribute to acne in some individuals.
  • - Incorporate Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, can help combat inflammation and promote skin health.
  • - Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Include sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts in your diet to reduce inflammation.



Stress Management


Chronic stress can trigger cortisol release, which increases the production of sebum on your sebaceous glands and leads to acne.

Incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your routine, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, to help keep stress levels in check.

You can read more about the relationship between breakouts and stress in the article The response of skin disease to stress.


How to treat chest acne?


Once chest acne is present, there are a few simple steps you can take to get clear skin:


Shower After Sweating


- Gently wash (not scrub) the area after working out.

- Use an after workout body wash for acne and a face wash for athletes (day and night) as part of your after-workout routine.


Read our blog post How to Choose the Best Acne Body Wash for more information on body washes.



Topical Treatments


Pat dry your skin after showering and apply a spot-on treatment like a gel for workout acne on the pimples. Use it twice a day until the pimple disappears. 





Avoid Heavy Lotions



  • - Use non-comedogenic, oil-free products for your sunscreen and avoid moisturizer on your chest.
  • - Resist touching your chest as your dirty hands can deliver bacteria to your skin and cause acne.
  • - Don’t pick your breakout, you will create more inflammation and can lead to scarring.


When to see a doctor?


While many cases of chest acne can be managed with over-the-counter treatments and a good skincare routine, severe or persistent chest acne may require professional intervention. 


If you notice any of the following signs, it's advisable to consult a dermatologist:


  • Large, painful pimples aka cysts: Cysts need prescription medication as if left untreated can result in scarring. It is always better to prevent scarring than to treat it.
  • Worsening or persistent acne: If your chest acne isn't improving with over-the-counter treatments or is getting worse, it's time to seek professional guidance.

If chest acne persists or becomes severe, consider consulting a dermatologist. They can provide personalized advice and prescribe topical or oral medications tailored to your skin type and specific acne concerns.




Chest acne can be a major cause of skin concern, but the good news it’s that you can prevent and treat it. You don't have to quit exercising in order to see clearer skin, maintaining proper skin hygiene post-workout and using the right skincare products are fundamental.


a kit for workout acne has everything you need to help you conquer healthier skin.


Avanza Skin has products to prevent and treat chest acne that arises from an active lifestyle. Find the right products that meet your skin and hair needs - in less than a minute - Take our quiz to find out!