Shoulder Acne - Important Things You Ought to Know
Shoulder acne is extremely common, you probably have already experienced it yourself. And although zits and pimples will regularly appear on the face, forehead or chin, having acne on shoulder blades is not uncommon either for a good reason. You see, acne is a direct result or consequence of dead skin cells, oil and bacteria becoming trapped within the hair follicles which then triggers inflammation and infection. Having pimples on shoulders is a sign that the hair follicles on your upper back are infested by acne-causing bacteria, and you need to take urgent action to get rid of these plugs. But before that, let's extrapolate this phenomenon that is manifested by having bumps on shoulders.
Shoulder Acne Meaning
At this juncture, it is possible that you could be asking yourself questions like, "What does shoulder acne mean?" Here's the thing; people often develop swelling on shoulder blade for a number of reasons which we will get into later. Most importantly, however, is that blackheads on shoulders form in the exact way that acne lesions appear on the face. What's more, your torso is more prone to developing severe acne on shoulders than the rest of your upper body since it is usually covered by clothing which is predisposed to heat, sweat, and friction.
Besides, just like facial acne, the development of zits on shoulders is largely fueled by lifestyle factors. Insufficient hygiene, tight-fitting clothes and picking at pimples will accelerate the formation of these bumps on shoulders more than anything else.
Shoulder Acne Causes
Now that we have identified and isolated shoulder acne meaning, it is only fair to further commentate on the various possible shoulder acne causes. A majority of the time, lesions and acne on the upper torso will appear just after reaching adolescence. Dermatologists believe that the hormonal changes that accompany puberty are to blame for these pustules, although they believe that this type of acne can appear at any age, even decades after puberty. So, if you are presently wondering, "Why do I have shoulder acne?" Here are some of the shoulder acne reasons to be on the lookout for.
1. Excess Sebaceous Secretions
Contrary to the common misconception that dirty skin or poor hygiene is the main thing to blame for one's shoulders breaking out, it is imperative to bear in mind that acne pustules and blackheads form underneath the epidermis even before anything else. The process is often triggered by the production of sebum which tends to increase sporadically during this phase. Otherwise, medications such as phenothiazines, testosterone and even progesterone-based treatments have been known to increase the production of sebum too.
So, if you are at a loss over, "Why are my shoulders breaking out?" It is possible that dead skin cells, excess sebum and other types of debris have become trapped in your skin pores and, consequently, become blocked. It is under such circumstances that acne lesions i.e blackheads and whiteheads will morph from these inflammatory lesions.
2. Acne Mechanica
Sometimes, shoulder acne can be a result of external forces such as friction, heat and pressure. Pimples that develop because of these reasons are commonly referred to as acne mechanica. And should you notice pimples or a breakout appearing on your shoulders after engaging in a vigorous workout while wearing tight-fitting clothes or after having a backpack on for several hours on a hot day, then acne mechanica is likely the culprit.
Unlike acne vulgaris, acne mechanica does not occur directly as a result of internal factors such as overactive sebum-secreting glands or an overdrive of hormones.
By now, you are probably already aware that testosterone controls the production of sebum. A spike of this hormone is capable of triggering acne breakouts in anyone and the upper torso is usually one of the places with an affinity for the blackheads. This explains why young adolescent men are likely to experience a heavy spurt of shoulder acne in the years leading up to puberty and just after that.
4. Estrogen and Progesterone
Just like one's T-levels, these two hormones have been found out to contribute immensely to unexplained breakouts. Progesterone levels, for instance, peak in the height of the luteal phase of a woman's menstrual cycle which starts just after ovulation and comes to an end just before the periods. As a consequence, shoulder acne breakouts are likely to occur during this period more than at any other time of the month.
Similarly, some women have reported experiencing pimples on shoulders while using progesterone-based birth control methods such as the mini-pill.
5. Keratosis Pilaris
Also known as 'chicken skin', this otherwise harmless condition is characterized by small red-looking bumps on the upper back and torso as a result of dead skin clogging one's hair follicles. Dermatologists believe that the condition to be a minor variation of shoulder acne which can be corrected by topical application of retinoid-based treatment.
6. Acne Vulgaris
Most of us can attest to the fact that it is common to get these somewhat isolated batches of pimples on the face and, by extension, the shoulders. External factors will typically aggravate the severity of this kind of acne, although it is primarily caused by a myriad of internal factors such as overactive sebaceous glands. Luckily for you, there are a couple of reliable OTC shoulder acne treatments that you can use to clear these pimples at the comfort and privacy of your home. Otherwise, you may want to schedule an appointment with a qualified dermatologist if the bumps become too inflamed or widespread.
7. Other Causes of Shoulder Acne
There's a selection of other hormones that infrequently cause acne to appear on one's shoulders. They include;
- Melanocortins: These are hormones that regulate the production of oil from one's sebaceous glands
- Insulin growth factor 1 or Insulin hormone: These two have been shown to promote the growth and activation of sebaceous glands.
- Corticotropin-releasing hormones: They stimulate the production of testosterone and subsequent production of sebum.
How to Get Rid of Shoulder Acne?
Fortunately, there are quite a few ways of how to get rid of shoulder acne that one can make use of when it comes to reducing the severity of the acne bumps. Here's a quick primer on some of these treatment options.
There's a whole range of OTC topical treatment - typically gels, foams, and creams - that can be used to get rid of acne breakouts. In this case, look for brands that contain the following ingredients:
- Salicylic acid: It's a beta-hydroxy acid that tempers the production of sebum and effectively reduces skin inflammation. What's more, salicylic acid also contributes to the reduction of the acne lesions by exfoliating one's skin - removing dirt, oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. If not for anything else, this makes it more improbable or unfavorable for shoulder acne to form. A good example of salicylic-based treatment that you can use for your shoulder acne treatment is AENO's Acne Treatment Natural Cream.
- Benzoyl peroxide: It is an antiseptic that kills acne-causing bacteria found on the surface of one's skin or nestled within the hair follicles. So, if you are looking for how to treat shoulder acne, then this is one of the best options to explore. In fact, researchers recently found out how using a benzoyl peroxide-based cream resulted in an almost 75% reduction in the intensity and severity of inflammatory lesions.
- Retinoids: Retinoids are a class above the rest when it comes to bursting pimples on shoulder blades. They work by increasing the rate of cell regeneration or turnover thereby effectively eliminating bacteria, dead skin cells and oil from one's follicles.
- Azelaic acid: Topical application of this ingredient which tends to exist naturally in grains such as rye, barley, and wheat has been found out to decrease skin swelling and redness. If anything, a small study conducted back in 2017 investigated the effectiveness of this relatively new ingredient in the quest of how to clear shoulder acne and found out that close to 50% of participants who tried it out enjoyed a significant decrease in the intensity of their shoulder acne.
Oral Based Medication
Thanks to advances in dermatological sciences and now that we understand how the skin works, there has been an advent of oral-based medications that one can use to treat the underlying causes of shoulder acne. And this includes;
- Antibiotics: They can be deployed against severe to moderate acne vulgaris. Experts, however, warn against overusing them as they can trigger antibiotic resistance.
- Acne-reducing tablets: Orally-administered tablets such as AENO's Perfect Skin Pills for Severe Acne have proven to be quite handy against a variety of shoulder acne causes.
- Hormone therapy: This involves taking medication that lessens the levels of particular hormones that have been linked to acne outbursts. They include the likes of flutamide, spironolactone and cyproterone.
As you can see, there's no shortage of ways that one can use to mitigate shoulder acne. All you need is a little vigilance and commitment from your side.