Acne on the Shoulders

Acne on the Shoulders

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Acne on the shoulders is a common problem that can be effectively treated in most cases. Over-the-counter products and prescription-strength medications can be very effective, especially when it comes to isolated shoulder acne. The shoulders are often very prominent and potentially exposed, so you don’t want to take any chances with popping a major pimple on your own, which can lead to further inflammation and infection. This is one of common ways that acne scars are created.

More severe forms commonly create acne on the shoulders but will also tend to affect the back, face, chest and/or arms. Tracking the location of your shoulder acne can indicate whether pimples and lesions are recurring in the same spot or if they appear intermittently in a more generalized area of the shoulder. Some shoulder acne is there for a specific reason; other types of acne are more random in their location. This information can be very useful to the dermatologist when visiting our Chesterfield clinic.

What Causes Acne on Shoulders?

Almost any type of acne can cause lesions on the shoulder. However, some acne conditions can cause milder or more severe outbreaks. Some types of acne create comedones—blackhead or whitehead pimples—while others lead to painful nodules, papules, pustules, or cysts.

Here are some of the more common causes of shoulder acne. (There are also a few conditions that are specific to face acne or back acne.) That said, know that if you’re struggling with painful lesions or recurring acne outbreaks, it’s time to see a dermatologist about the underlying cause.

  • Acne Vulgaris: It’s common to get these types of isolated or small-batch pimples on the face, in addition to the shoulders. External factors may aggravate this acne, but it’s primarily due to secreting too much oil by sebaceous glands underneath the skin. Many people treat this type of acne at home, but if it becomes too widespread or inflamed, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with the dermatologist.


  • Acne Mechanica: This type of acne is more likely to recur based on the time of year, clothing and apparel, and personal activity level. It’s good to confirm with a dermatologist, but if you tend to get shoulder acne during the summer, after exercising a lot, or while wearing backpacks or restrictive clothing, acne mechanica may be the cause of your shoulder acne.


  • Keratosis Pilaris: Patchy bumps that are rough to the touch are more likely keratosis pilaris—an acne-like condition that involves the overproduction of keratin. This skin condition isn’t usually painful and, in most cases, can be treated effectively. In addition to the shoulders, these bumps commonly appear on the back, arms, and face.


  • Severe Acne Conditions: Acne fulminans and acne conglobate are two rare but serious types of acne. Fulminans is typically characterized by nodular and ulcerative lesions, while the conglobata variety involves deep and interconnected lesions. Both conditions require medical treatment.

Talk to a Dermatologist about How to Treat Shoulder Acne

Don’t hesitate to see a dermatologist for shoulder acne. This type of medical attention can ensure acne pimples don’t lead to scarring, especially if you’re struggling with painful lesions or recurring outbreaks. Seeing a dermatologist can help regardless of the underlying cause. Get a consultation and develop the best treatment plan for your type of shoulder acne.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.

*Results may vary per patient.