If you’ve ever slid your hands over your smooth face only to meet a bumpy décolletage, know that you’re not alone. Getting that pesky chest texture is really common, but dermatologists have the intel on how to treat bumpy chest skin so it can stop wrecking your matching sports bra and leggings athleisure look.
Those bumps that take up an unwelcome residence on the chest area can pop up for a number of different reasons. “Bumpy texture can be due to moles, sweat glands, and acne,” says Purvisha Patel, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. Sun damage, thanks to wearing V-neck tops or workout tanks, can lead to photo aging that can also cause uneven texture, she adds. Also, your skin all over your body is covered in hair follicles, which are right next to oil glands. “When we sweat, they can get clogged and inflamed, resulting in chest acne or chest bumps,” says Dr. Patel.
You’re more prone to experience this type of texture woe if your skin’s on the oily side, or if you sweat a lot. “The follicles get clogged [from the oil or sweat], and there can be bacterial or fungal growth that results in inflammation,” says Dr. Patel. A warm, moist environment on the chest—from your go-to HIIT workout or power yoga session—can be a “wonderful environment” for chest acne, too, she says, which a sports bra will trap if left on for too long. Edible ingredients can also lead to chest breakouts, like coconut oil and olive oil, so watch the product labels of what you’re using. Also: Hate to break it to you, but skipping your regular shower is one big culprit of body acne (on your chest and your butt, back, and more).
If you’re currently dealing with a bumpy, pimply chest, Dr. Patel recommends using a warm compress to draw the pimples to a head, an antibacterial wash (to quash acne-causing bacteria), and hydrocortisone (which can help to soothe inflammation). “Using an exfoliating cleanser or a benzoyl-peroxide wash or cream can help to dry up chest bumps as well,” she says, noting that salicylic and glycolic acid exfoliants are good for the job—try something like the Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Wash ($7).
To keep your chest smooth, regular exfoliation is key. “Using an exfoliating cleanser helps to prevent chest bumps,” says Dr. Patel. “Wearing clothing that’s not tight-fitting and is breathable for when you know there will be a lot of sweating also helps prevent the pores from getting clogged. Not using occlusive ingredients or edible ingredients on your skin can help prevent breakouts as well.”
Last thing to keep in mind: If you happen to shave that area, be sure to shave with the grain (not against hair growth) and follow with an antimicrobial cleanser, which Dr. Patel says will help prevent ingrown hairs and chest bumps from cropping up.
Watch the video below to learn more about how to combat acne, according to a dermatologist:
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