Struggling with red, itchy pimples on your chest? Chest acne can keep occurring if not treated holistically.
While easily available OTC treatments help fight symptoms, they often fail to get to the root of the problem. Moreover, these come with various adverse effects. Safer alternatives such as therapeutic herbs are now being extensively recommended by skin specialists.
Read on to know the causes of chest acne and the best remedies available to treat it.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Persistent and abundant acne needs medical attention. Ayurveda recommends a deep systemic detox to heal acne inside out.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Causes Acne On The Chest?
Your hair follicle, shaft, arrector pili muscle and the sebaceous glands (oil glands) together make up the pilosebaceous unit . Chest acne is a disorder of this pilosebaceous unit.
When certain internal and external factors trigger your oil glands into producing more sebum, this excess oil along with dead cells and bacteria clogs your skin pores, causing an acne breakout.
While chest acne is usually no different from face or body acne, there may be specific factors responsible for the condition. The common causes of chest acne that you need to watch out for are:
1. Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal discrepancy is a primary cause of chest acne in women, especially during pregnancy, menstruation and menopause. Men experience chest acne mainly during puberty.
According to a research named Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update, excess androgen hormones in your body can stimulate your sebaceous glands into secreting more sebum. This in turn clogs your pores, causing acne.
Apart from androgens, excessive stress can cause the release of the cortisol hormone, which is also known to influence sebaceous gland activity.
2. Oily Skin
According to Ayurveda, your skin type and Prakriti (body constitution) is determined by the level of doshas (life energies) in your body. Those who have dominance of the Kapha Dosha, tend to have oily skin and be more prone to chest acne.
3. Lack Of Hygiene/Skincare Routine
Many people are more focused on facial skincare and happen to pay less attention to body skin. Lack of frequent exfoliation can cause dead cells to build up and clog your pores, leading to chest acne.
4. Laundry Detergents
While laundry detergents don’t have direct contact with your chest area, certain comedogenic ingredients in them can linger in your washed clothes. Such ingredients, especially fragrances, are known to clog your skin and lead to acne on the chest.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating. While sweat does not directly cause acne, it can contribute to bacterial proliferation on your skin and worsen an acne condition.
Excessive workouts in gym wear and synthetic materials can cause a lot of friction, leading to skin damage.
Wear and tear of this kind leads to a build-up of dead skin cells that your skin cannot naturally slough off. This makes you more prone to pore clogging and therefore chest acne.
7. Improper Diet
Intake of foods with a high glycemic index such as sugary items  and processed foods can increase your blood sugar levels and generate an inflammatory state in the body. Inflammation can spike up your sebum production, leading to chest acne.
Though the claim is debatable, some dermatologists believe that excess dairy consumption can cause hormonal imbalance and enhance the risk of developing acne.
8. Dry Skin
Your skin naturally gets rid of dead skin cells through the process of desquamation. However, dry skin can lead to excess dead skin production, which may clog the hair follicles on your chest and cause acne.
9. Oxidative Stress
Too much exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to skin cell damage through oxidative stress. The free radicals generated due to this cause inflammation. They have a significant role to play in the pathogenesis of acne according to a research named Oxidative stress in acne vulgaris: an important therapeutic target.
The research further suggests using antioxidant treatment to get rid of acne on the chest and other parts.
10. Comedogenic Skincare And Make-Up Products
Skincare and make-up products need to be carefully selected if your skin is prone to acne. Certain moisturizing agents or make-up ingredients can act as occlusives and form a layer over your skin, thereby blocking your pores. As dead cells and bacteria get trapped under it, you experience an acne breakout.
A simple precautionary check that you can do is to read up the comedogenic score of the main ingredients of your body cream or moisturizer. A low comedogenic score is always a good choice for skin experiencing chest acne.
Fungal infection causing chest acne  is a different condition often confused with acne vulgaris. Malassezia (Pityrosporum) Folliculitis or fungal acne on the chest occurs when there is an excess proliferation of malassezia yeast on your skin. It is usually represented by acne-like papules that are extremely itchy.
What Does Chest Acne Look Like?
Chest acne can begin with microcomedones such as blackheads and whiteheads on the chest area. If left untreated, these may soon get infected and turn into red, inflamed pimples known as pustules, papules and nodules.
Acne on the chest can cause itchiness and discomfort, especially if the affected area keeps rubbing against your clothes or experiences excessive sweating.
How Do You Get Rid Of Acne On Your Chest?
As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “Persistent and abundant acne needs medical attention. Ayurveda recommends a deep systemic detox to heal Acne, inside out. For daily maintenance, regular Abhyanga - oil massages and Udvartana (dry powder - cleansing) routine can dissolve the dead skin and unclog the pores.”
Here are some natural remedies you can try:
A. Home Remedies
1. Oatmeal, Milk And Honey Exfoliation
Exfoliation is a simple chest acne treatment that can give you some quick relief. Oatmeal acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, while lactic acid in milk naturally exfoliates the acne-affected area, unclogging your pores. Honey being antibacterial, aids in the healing of your acne lesions.
- Take 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, add sufficient milk and 1 teaspoon of manuka honey.
- Mix well and gently scrub your chest acne using small circular motions.
- Leave the scrub on for another 5 to 10 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Anecdotal evidence has time and again suggested the efficacy of apple cider vinegar as a treatment for acne on the chest and other regions. While apple cider vinegar may be too harsh on the face, gently cleansing the affected area on your chest can help clear clogged pores and tackle the bacterial infection as well.
- Mix ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of lukewarm water.
- Take a cotton ball to apply the solution on your chest acne.
- Allow it to stay for 10 to 15 minutes before washing off.
Avoid using apple cider vinegar if you have sensitive skin or are diagnosed with atopic dermatitis.
3. Oregano/ Thyme/ Tea Tree/ Rosemary Essential Oils
These essential oils are often recommended as anti-acne treatments for their potent antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
According to a research named Origanum vulgare L. Essential Oil as a Potential Anti-Acne Topical Nanoemulsion- In Vitro and In Vivo Study, oregano and thyme essential oils exhibited the strongest antibacterial activity against P.acnes bacteria.
This was even more than the highly propagated tea tree oil, and could be attributed to the presence of the compound thymol. Rosemary essential oil  also helps kill acne-causing bacteria by attacking the bacterial cell wall.
- Add 3 to 4 drops of oregano/thyme/tea tree/rosemary oil to 10 ml of a light carrier oil such as jojoba.
- Apply on your chest acne using a cotton ball.
- You can also mix more than one essential oil (about 2 drops of each).
- Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before washing off.
4. Pineapple, Lemon And Baking Soda Spot Treatment
Citric acid in lemon juice acts as a natural exfoliant for your chest acne. Baking soda along with natural enzymes like bromelain in pineapple helps reduce inflammation and clears your chest acne.
- Take 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda and add a bit of warm water to make a thick paste.
- To this, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of mashed pineapple (especially the stem).
- Mix and apply as a spot treatment on your chest acne and wash off after 10 to 15 minutes. Those with sensitive or dry skin can avoid using baking soda.
In case of chest acne, use a loofah or a gentle scrubber while applying your soap or shower gel. This helps prevent dead skin and dirt build-up and keeps your pores from clogging.
B. Ayurvedic Methods
Acne on the chest, also known as yuvana pidaka, is considered a Vata-Kapha kustha roga according to Ayurveda. Thus, the following treatments aim at balancing your doshas, removing harmful toxins from your body, healing inflammation and bacterial infection and bringing about a holistic improvement in your skin health:
1. Turmeric, Haritaki And Honey
All three herbs are excellent antimicrobials with antioxidant properties. Turmeric and honey also help reduce inflammation of your chest acne lesions.
- Mix 1 ½ tablespoon each of turmeric and haritaki powders.
- Add enough honey to it to make a paste.
- Apply this Ayurvedic lepa on your chest acne and wash off after 1 hour.
2. Arjuna Tvak And Milk
Arjuna tvak  or bark of the Arjuna tree is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, tannins and others. It is also known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Milk soothes the acne-affected areas and also helps to unclog blocked skin pores.
- Take 2 tablespoons of powdered Arjuna tvak.
- Add sufficient milk to it to make a paste.
- Apply this lepa on your chest acne.
- Leave it on for 40 minutes to an hour and wash off.
3. Manjistha, Lodhra, Yashtimadhu
Amongst Ayurvedic herbs, Manjistha is prized for its amazing blood purifying properties and helps in the removal of harmful Ama toxins.
Lodhra  heals acne-affected skin through its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Yashtimadhu, apart from its antimicrobial abilities, also reduces the chances of developing chest acne scars.
- Prepare the lepa by mixing 1 tablespoon each of manjistha, lodhra and yashtimadhu together.
- Add some aloe vera gel, honey or milk to make a paste and apply on your chest acne.
- Leave it on for 1 hour and wash off.
4. Sandalwood, Kushtha, Cinnamon
Sandalwood’s  cooling properties can give you instant relief from redness, itching and irritation associated with your chest acne. Both kushtha and cinnamon help fight inflammation and infection, thus speeding up the healing process.
- Mix 1 tablespoon each of sandalwood and kushtha powders.
- To this add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
- Add some honey or milk to make a paste.
- Apply over your chest acne and wash off after an hour.
5. Nasya And Vamana
Both nasya and vamana are purification techniques used in the treatment of yuvana pidakas. In nasya, medicated oils are administered through the nasal cavity. In vamana, medicated vomiting is induced to remove toxins and improve your overall skin and body health.
However, it is important to consult your Ayurvedic doctor for a detailed understanding of the procedures and see which chest acne treatments best fit your Prakriti (body constitution) and skin condition.
C. Lifestyle Changes And Diet
Ayurveda believes that unhealthy food habits and lifestyle are major contributors to the pathogenesis of chest acne. Consumption of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods can help regulate sebum production and keep your skin’s immune defenses strong.
1. Foods To Eat For Chest Acne:
Vitamin A (Beta-carotene)
Carrot, tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, liver.
Coconut oil, sunflower oil, wheat germ oil, soybean oil, almonds, peanuts.
Kiwi, orange, lemon, amla, spinach, avocado, guava, kale, broccoli.
Oysters, crabs, red meat, eggs, beef, squid.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Mackerel, tuna, salmon, flax seeds, cod liver oil, canola oil, chia seeds.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Safflower oil, hemp seed oil, peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seeds.
2. Lifestyle Changes To Clear Your Chest Acne
- Follow the Ayurveda-recommended lifestyle tips given below for rapid healing of your chest acne:
- Avoid touching the acne lesions on your chest.
- Consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know your dosha levels. Accordingly, plan a diet that keeps all your doshas stable.
- Avoid oily and junk foods.
- Add a spoon of uncooked ghee to your food to balance the Vata and Pitta doshas.
- While cooking your meals, add spices such as fennel, mint and turmeric to prevent overheating and improve digestion.
- Consume foods that have a high water content like raw cucumbers, watermelons. apples, lettuce and others.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Practice yoga asanas like Chakrasana, Halasana, Uttanasana and Kapalbhati. These yoga poses improve blood circulation and help in the removal of toxins from the body, thus clearing up your chest acne.
How To Prevent Acne On Your Chest?
1. Take regular baths and exfoliate frequently (at least 2-3 times a week) with a gentle herbal body scrub.
2. Avoid staying long hours in sweat-soaked clothes. Take a shower after workout sessions.
3. Quit smoking. According to a research named Acne and smoking, acne occurring in one’s post-adolescent period had direct correlation with smoking. Smoker’s acne, medically termed as atypical post-adolescent acne, refers to a non-inflammatory type of acne commonly observed in people with smoking habits.
4. Avoid consumption of sugary and processed foods. Limit your dairy intake as well.
5. Switch to non-comedogenic skincare products. Avoid make-up as much as possible.
6. Avoid laundry detergents that contain fragrances.
7. Consume detoxifying drinks like green tea or add herbs like manjistha, aloe vera, triphala or turmeric to your water/ tea and consume.
8. Limit your sun exposure.
9. Avoid wearing fabrics that cause friction.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chest Acne
1. Are Chest Pimples Normal?
Acne is a common inflammatory skin disorder that affects almost 80% of the population. The most frequently affected areas are the face, chest, neck and the back. Thus, chest acne is perfectly normal and not really a great cause for worry. It can be resolved with herbal treatments.
2. What Hormone Causes Chest Acne In Females?
Androgen hormones are the main culprits causing acne in women. A highly-stressed lifestyle can also cause an increase in cortisol hormone, leading to excess sebum production and chest acne.
3. Does Chest Acne Go Away?
Yes, chest acne will eventually go away as your skin renews itself by gradually sloughing off the upper damaged layers along with the sebum and dead cell plugs clogging your pores.
The Last Word
- Chest acne is a common inflammatory condition caused by fluctuating hormones.
- While hormonal imbalances need a more holistic treatment, keeping other causative factors in check can help you control an aggravated chest acne condition.
- Keeping your skin protected from the sun and consuming a wholesome diet can help in preventing acne on your chest.
- A good herbal skincare routine also keeps oil secretions in control, thus keeping acne at bay.
1. The pilosebaceous unit: a pivotal route for topical drug delivery, 2000 March
2. Can The Right Diet Get Rid Of Acne?
3. Malassezia (Pityrosporum) Folliculitis, 2014 March
4. Investigation of antibacterial activity of rosemary essential oil against Propionibacterium acnes with atomic force microscopy, 2007 October
5. Ayurveda Management of Yuvana Pidika (Acne Vulgaris) - A Case Report
6. External Treatments For The Management Of Yuvana Pidaka (Acne Vulgaris) Through Ayurveda- A Review
7. Management of Yuvana Pidaka using Mukha Lepa, 2019 Jan- Feb
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