Acne is a skin condition most commonly associated with the face and back area.
However, pimples can appear anywhere on the body, including the stomach, which is one of the most unusual places to encounter this skin condition.
Acne on the stomach can be caused by many factors, but luckily, there are effective treatment solutions.
In this article, we will discuss what causes acne on the stomach, how to treat it, and how to prevent future breakouts.
We will also touch on other potential conditions that might appear on the stomach as acne at first glace, but are actually entirely different conditions. Because of this it’s essential to know the difference and address your skin concerns adequately for the best outcome.
What is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs when the pores become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and other forms of cellular debris that harden in the passage and form a stiff plug.
This plug will then become food for the acne-causing bacteria that live on the skin but are usually neutral until the perfect environment for their proliferation is created. When this occurs, the bacteria’s growth and activity accelerate, producing inflammation and infection of the surrounding tissue.
Upon detecting this irregularity, the immune system will send its inflammatory signals to fight the infection, creating redness and swelling of the affected area, which is often painful to the touch.
Can Acne Appear On The Stomach?
Acne can appear anywhere on the face and body except the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet because these are the areas where we don’t have active sebaceous glands to produce oil that would clog the pores and cause a pimple to form.
Therefore, while acne on the stomach isn’t a rare occurrence and can, in fact, appear due to many factors, it is more common on the face, neck, back, and shoulders.
However, when it does appear on the stomach, acne can be non-inflammatory, such as whiteheads and blackheads, or inflammatory, such as a pustule, a blind pimple, or even a cyst.
Other Causes of Red Bumps on The Stomach
While acne on the stomach can occur for several reasons, there are also other causes of red bumps in this area that may appear as acne but are something else entirely, which might demand a different treatment approach.
Here are a few other potential causes of red bumps on the stomach that might look like acne but are, in fact, something else:
Ingrown hairs are a common occurrence on the body caused by single or multiple hairs becoming trapped inside the skin due to their sharp ends.
Once trapped, the hair will start to grow underneath the skin and trigger an infection because the immune system will perceive it as a foreign invader and fight against it by sending inflammatory signals to the area.
This will then manifest on the skin as a mild rash or blind red spots that look similar to acne.
Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles that occurs when bacteria enter the skin through cuts or wounds on the surface and colonize the surrounding tissue.
The same inflammatory signals are sent to fight off foreign invaders, causing what looks like bumps, rashes, or spots on the skin.
Fungal infections are the product of yeast overgrowth on the skin, manifesting on its surface as a cluster of red, itchy pimples.
Commonly occurring in oily areas of the face and body, these fungal infections may look like acne but can often be treated using antifungal medications.
Razor bumps are inflamed bumps that look like pimples but are caused by shaving with dull or dirty razors that haven’t been changed for a long time.
Itchy, red, and often swollen razor bumps require special care to heal and prevent infection, so they should be treated as soon as possible.
Keratosis pilaris doesn’t always look like acne, but they can sometimes appear as blind, flesh-colored bumps caused by the buildup of keratin, the protein that forms the skin’s outermost layer.
Although not dangerous, keratosis pilaris can be itchy and uncomfortable to deal with.
Cherry angiomas are benign skin growth made up of blood vessels that appear as bright-red clusters on the skin.
Although they look like acne, cherry angiomas are not caused by bacterial overgrowth and can be removed by electrocauterization, which is a surgical method that involves burning the angioma by using an electric current delivered by a tiny probe or by freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen to break up the blood vessels and ease the appearance of these red spots.
Although benign, it’s important not to try to scratch angiomas off or cut them out yourself, as this can lead to infections.
Boils are by far one of the conditions that resemble acne the most, as they appear as pus-filed bumps that form under the skin when bacteria infect and inflame one or more hair follicles.
Boils usually start as reddish or purplish bumps that are tender to the touch and grow in size over time, leading to the expulsion of a yellowish-white center made up of pus.
Shingles are a viral infection of the nerves and skin related to chickenpox that manifests on the body as a cluster of painful, itchy bumps.
Shingles typically start as red spots that turn into pus-filled blisters and are often accompanied by a fever, chills, fatigue, and headaches.
While they will likely keep coming back, especially when your immune system is compromised through a disease such as seasonal flu and colds, shingles symptoms can be maintained with antiviral medications or medicated ointments for cold sores.
How To Treat Stomach Acne?
Stomach acne might seem like a nuisance, but they are relatively easy to treat because this area isn’t as prone to developing a cluster of stubborn, deep, cystic acne, and the nodules that usually occur here tend to be pustular or sporadic.
With that said, here are a few easy ways to treat stomach acne and prevent future breakouts from forming:
Keeping the area clean and free of bacteria is one of the most efficient ways to treat stomach acne.
Therefore, consider incorporating antibacterial cleansers that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, as this will help infuse oxygen inside the pores and destroy the airless environment most bacteria strains need to survive.
Additionally, since the skin on areas like the stomach is much thicker and not as easily irritated, strong benzoyl peroxide percentages will likely be tolerated better and can be used daily to make sure the skin in that area stays acne-free.
Toners that contain ingredients like glycolic, salicylic, and mandelic acids are another great way to make sure the pores in the affected area remain clear and free of acne-causing plugs.
Exfoliating acids are a great way to dissolve hardened oil plugs and basically starve the acne-causing bacteria of the environment they need to survive.
Additionally, exfoliating toners will also help keep the skin properly hydrated and balanced and reduce other causes of stomach bumps, like fungal infections, folliculitis, ingrown hairs, and keratosis pilaris.
The only instance exfoliating toners won’t help much would be if you are dealing with infections like shingles or boils, as these need to be treated with antiviral medications or antibiotics.
Sulfur masks are another fantastic way to neutralize acne-causing bacteria and keep the area clear and breakout-free.
Sulfur has antimicrobial properties and can penetrate deep into the pores where bacteria lurk without irritating or dehydrating the skin, making it an excellent ally for treating stomach acne.
Additionally, sulfur masks are also known for their ability to reduce inflammation and itchiness and have been used for decades as a natural remedy to treat various skin conditions, including bacterial infections and fungal overgrowths.
Finally, sulfur masks can also help reduce the appearance of scars and dark spots that may form after a pimple has healed, making them an excellent tool for acne prevention and post-acne care.
Wearing Loose Clothing
Wearing loose clothing, especially when the weather is hot and humid, can prevent acne and help reduce the chances of fungal infections and folliculitis.
Acne and infections in these circumstances usually occur due to trapped moisture between the skin and the point of friction, which is the piece of clothing that rubs against the area and irritates it.
Moisture from sweat, on the other hand, is an alkaline substance that can enable the growth of certain bacteria that already reside on the skin and cause them to become problematic.
Therefore, wearing lightweight and airy clothing can help reduce these conditions as much as possible and provide relief to those who suffer from frequent stomach bumps.
Shaving those few hairs on the stomach line is a regular grooming step for many of us; however, it can also be one of the main causes of folliculitis and other types of bacterial infections that can appear on the skin as bumps, rashes, and acne.
This is why when shaving the stomach area, always shave along the grain instead of opposite it, as this will help reduce irritation and create less friction.
Additionally, always use a new razor blade or a sharp one so that there is less pulling and tugging, which can help prevent ingrown hairs.
Finally, never leave your razor in the bathroom and always make sure to store it in a cool, dry place, as humidity can cause the blades to rust and attract bacteria and mold, which can then get transferred onto the skin and lead to all sorts of infections and skin issues.
Laser Hair Removal
If shaving is too much of a hassle for you, or if you simply want to make sure that the hair follicles in your stomach area are always kept clean and free of bacteria and ingrown hair that cause bumps and infections, it might be a good idea to invest in a few sessions of laser hair removal.
Laser is an excellent way to permanently get rid of harsh and sharp hair as it destroys the follicle itself, with no chance of regrowth.
Furthermore, laser sessions can also help reduce the chances of razor burn, folliculitis, and ingrown hairs, leaving you with clean and smooth skin that is less prone to infections and acne.