Skin Journal
Here's what to do when pimples pop up on your breasts
Author:
Teneal Zuvela
Reviewed by:

One of the most annoying things about pimples is that they can appear almost anywhere on the body. This means that you can find pimples in some pretty surprising places, including on your arms, neck, shoulders, temples, back, stomach and even your breasts.

While breast acne can be a little annoying, it's rarely something to be concerned about and just like the pimples on your face, it can be easily treated with the right products.

Let's take you through the main causes of breast pimples, when you should consider seeing a doctor and the best ways to treat acne on your breasts.

Is it normal to get pimples on your breasts?

Yes, it's completely normal to get pimples on your breasts. In fact, research has shown that chest pimples affect up to 15 per cent of people with acne breakouts [1]. Breast acne can come in different forms and may appear as any of the following:

  • Blackheads: a clogged hair follicle that appears as a dark coloured bump or spot.
  • Whiteheads: a clogged hair follicle covered by a thin layer of skin that tends to appear as a white bump or spot.
  • Pustules: a pus-filled lesion that's generally white or yellow coloured and surrounded by red, inflamed skin.
  • Papules: a small, inflamed bump on the skin that doesn't contain visible pus.
  • Nodules: a more severe acne lesion that develops under the skin and feels hard to touch.
  • Cysts: a severe and inflamed acne lesion that's filled with pus and may require medical treatment to remove.

What causes pimples on breasts?

Pimples on the breasts are generally caused by the same things that cause pimples on your face and on other parts of your body, which is a build-up of sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria.

Sebum is an oily substance that's produced by the sebaceous glands, which are connected to your hair follicles. If the glands produce too much sebum, the substance can build up with other dead skin cells and bacteria, and block your pores (the openings of the hair follicles).

The reason that so many people get pimples on their breasts is that the chest, along with the face and scalp, has the highest concentration of sebaceous glands in your body [2]. This means that it's very easy for the hair follicles on your chest to get clogged and turn into pimples.

Hormonal changes

Excess sebum is usually caused by hormonal fluctuations. This can happen during pregnancy, at different times of your menstrual cycle and even when you're stressed [3].

During these periods, certain hormones increase the amount of sebum produced by your sebaceous glands and thicken the lining of the hair follicle, making it easier for pores to get blocked. This type of breast acne is known hormonal acne.

Sweating

You might have experienced the uncomfortable feeling of sweat accumulating on and between your breasts in hot weather and when you exercise.

While sweat is great for keeping your cool and moisturised in these conditions, it's also a breeding ground for bacteria if left to dry on your skin, which can clog pores and lead to pimples.

Wearing tight clothing

Acne mechanica is a type of acne that's caused by material rubbing against your skin. On your breasts, this generally occurs when you're wearing tight-fitting workout clothing, such as sports bras and tank tops, which causes a combination of friction and sweat.

Other causes

Pimples on the breasts can also be caused by certain health conditions, medications and even your dietary choices.

What causes pimples on nipples?

Pimples on your nipples can be caused by all of the same culprits that cause pimples on your breasts, including excess oil, hormonal fluctuations, sweating and wearing tight-fitting clothing. Generally, these pimples appear as whiteheads.

How long do breast pimples usually last?

Your pimple's lifespan will depend on the type of pimple that you have. Whiteheads, blackheads and pustules generally disappear faster than nodules and cysts, which are much harder to get rid of.

The time period will also often depend on what the pimple has been caused by and which treatment options you use. For these reasons, pimples on the breasts can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks or even longer in more severe cases.

Are pimples on breasts a sign of cancer?

Pimples on the breast are not a sign of breast cancer but there's a small chance that other skin conditions that you may mistake for pimples could be.

According to the Breast Cancer Network Australia, skin irritation or dimpling may be an early sign of breast cancer and in extremely rare cases, a rash or a small red area of skin may be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer [4]. However, inflammatory breast cancer cases are extremely rare.

What do breast cancer spots look like?

For most people, the first sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast but sometimes there might be other noticeable changes to your breast skin as well. This might include the following signs on your breasts:

  • Dimpled skin that might look similar to an orange peel
  • Skin that's inflamed, thickened, flaking, red or dry
  • A rash or raised spots
  • Colour changes

When should I consult a doctor?

It's important to consult a doctor if you notice any changes to your breasts that don't look like regular acne, or if your regular acne isn't going away with treatment.

While breast cancer is one cause of breast changes, there are many other mild health conditions, such as a yeast infection, that can cause these changes as well. It's important to talk to a doctor or medical professional so that they can rule out any serious conditions and find the cause of your breast changes.

How to get rid of acne on my breast

It's easy for your breasts to get overlooked in your normal skincare routines but if you're prone to getting pimples in this region, it's probably time to give them some attention.

The hair follicles on breasts are much deeper than the ones on the face and this means that they can sometimes be a little more challenging to treat. However, with the right skincare ingredients, you shouldn't have any problems getting rid of the acne on your breasts.

For breast acne, we recommend using a skincare formula with powerful acne-fighting ingredients, such as prescription retinoids.

When applied topically, retinoids can unclog your pores and effectively treat acne breakouts [5]. It's also important to use formulas or customised acne treatments that are made with ingredients that actually suit your individual skin type.

That's why Software's prescription acne treatment can be customised to suit your skin and its own unique issues. For example, if you're struggling with a certain type of breast acne, Software's team of doctors will take this into account when creating your customised acne formula.

You can also try the following techniques to prevent pimples from arising on your breasts in the future.

Wear breathable fabrics

Wearing loose-fitting, breathable materials can reduce the risk of acne mechanica in hot weather and during workouts. Swap out those tight fitting sports bras and tank tops with some made from lighter and looser materials.

Shower after exercise

Washing off any sweat and bacteria that has accumulated on your breasts during a workout can help prevent pimples on your breasts and other acne breakouts on your body.

Using a mild soap or a gentle exfoliating wash such as Software's Salicylic Acid Foaming Wash will help keep the hair follicles in these areas clear. Just remember to avoid any rough scrubbing as this can irritate your skin and lead to more pimples developing.

Wash your sheets regularly

Dust, bacteria, sweat and dead skin cells can all accumulate in bed sheets and onto your body during the night. Regularly washing your sheets is a good way to keep them clean and fresh, and prevent any pimples from popping up on your body.

Use an oil-free sunscreen and non-comedogenic products

Certain sunscreens and body products may contain oils and comedogenic chemicals that irritate your skin and cause acne. Before putting any new body products on your skin, it's always best to check the ingredient list and try to opt for oil and non-comedogenic products that won't clog your skin.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Start consult