Open comedones, also known as blackheads, are acne lesions that can appear in all areas of the face and body but are commonly found in the t-zone area (forehead, nose, and chin) as well as on the back, chest, and even under the breasts.
And while most people think that blackheads are caused by dirt and grime, they actually form when our natural skin oil mixes with dead skin cells inside the pores and forms a hardened plug whose tip, when exposed to air, oxidizes and turns black, hence its name.
Luckily, there are many suitable treatments for blackheads, ranging from over-the-counter cleansers, toners, and lotions, which are usually found at an affordable price and perform a quick and efficient action in maintaining clear skin.
However, besides using cosmetics, it’s also essential to eliminate potential triggers that cause blackheads in the first place.
Therefore, this article will discuss everything you need to know about blackheads, what causes them, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them from forming.
Table of Contents
What Causes Blackheads on Breasts?
Blackheads are small spots that can appear anywhere on the face and body but tend to favor sweaty or oily areas.
Here are some most common causes of blackheads on breasts:
Heavy lotions, moisturizers, and body oils that contain ingredients such as waxes, butters, and fatty emollients and are not properly washed off the skin after some time can lead to clogged pores and eventually blackheads.
Fabric softeners are another common cause of blackheads and body acne due to containing waxy particles that stick to your clothes and eventually rub off on your skin, clogging your pores and causing inflammation.
A diet that consists of inflammatory foods like processed meats, greasy fried foods, and sugary snacks and drinks can also be a factor that contributes to the development of blackheads and acne anywhere on the face and body.
This is because these foods can lead to hormonal imbalances that can trigger the overproduction of sebum and completely alter the composition of the natural skin lubricant, leading to inflammation throughout the body that can sometimes manifest as pimples on the skin.
If you suspect your blackheads and pimples can be blamed on an inflammatory diet, you can check out GoodGlow’s Clear Skin Guide, which is packed with helpful information on how to balance your hormones and reduce active inflammation on the skin through diet.
Could It be Something Other Than Acne?
Acne lesions are pretty distinct no matter where they are on the body, but if you’re unsure whether what you’re seeing is acne or something else, here are some things that can appear as acne but are usually more sinister:
Bacterial infections on the skin can sometimes look like pimples and appear in areas like the chest and breasts.
Folliculitis is a common bacterial infection of the hair follicles caused by an overgrowth of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that reside on our skin without causing any issue until the skin’s pH is increased.
This usually happens from excessive sweating, as being naturally alkaline, sweat can increase the skin’s pH, causing the bacteria to multiply and appear as red, itchy bumps on the skin.
Another type of rash that looks like pimples but isn’t acne can be caused by bug bites.
Bedbugs, fleas, mosquitoes, and mites are tiny insects that feed on human blood and dander and leave behind itchy red bumps that can be mistaken for pimples.
Therefore, if your pimples are red, inflamed, and itchy, there’s a chance your skin concern isn’t acne but bug bites instead.
Finally, allergic reactions to cosmetic products, cleaning products, food, and even some medication can sometimes cause a pimple-like rash in various areas of the face and body.
Breast Cancer vs. Pimples
Pimples on the breasts are usually not dangerous and are rarely a sign of concern. The worst thing that can happen when you start noticing pimples in the breast area is inflammation that can become more severe and turn a small spot into a bigger, discolored, and painful cyst.
On the other hand, there is another condition that’s classified as the most severe form of acne, called acne conglobata, which can leave large, inflamed, and painful lumps on the skin that can form deep scar tissue; however, these usually affect other areas of the body as well, and not just the breasts.
Lesions associated with cancer are usually persistent and don’t go away after being treated with regular toners, serums, and ointments for acne.
Additionally, cancerous lumps are usually painless and hard to the touch. So, if you notice any of these changes in your body, it’s important to consult with a doctor as soon as possible.
How To Prevent Clogged Pores on Breasts and Chest
There are several useful ways to prevent clogged pores and blackheads from forming on your breasts and chest:
Identify & Avoid Triggers
The first and most important way to prevent clogged pores, blackheads, and pimples on all areas of the face and body is to identify what’s causing it and avoid these triggers.
You can do this by making a list of cosmetic products you are using, food you frequently consume, cleaning and washing products you come in contact with, and any other possible triggers you can think of.
From there, you can take a closer look at the ingredients and see if there’s anything that’s potentially clogging your pores or causing inflammation that leads to breakouts.
Additionally, you can also try eliminating some of the most common triggers like heavy lotions, fabric softeners, and even perfumed body washes, and monitor any changes in your skin to see if there’s an improvement.
This should narrow down the list of potential causes and help identify your triggers so that you can avoid them in the future.
Cleanse the Area
While the cause of pimples isn’t necessarily hygiene, as many people that have excellent hygiene still suffer from this skin condition, it’s important to keep the area clean to prevent the pores from getting clogged in the first place.
Therefore, if you are using cosmetic products like body lotions, oils, and ointments, it’s essential to thoroughly cleanse the area once or twice a day to prevent the buildup of clogging components and bacteria that can cause breakouts.
Apply Warm Compress
Another helpful method to get rid of blackheads on the chest and breasts is applying a warm compress after cleansing.
This will help soften the skin and the plug inside the pore, making it easier to extract through manual removal or the use of exfoliating products.
Regular exfoliation, especially after softening the skin with a warm compress, is the best way to keep blackheads on the chest and breasts under control.
This can be done by using physical exfoliants like scrubs containing small beads or granules that manually remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface or chemical components like acids or enzymes that dissolve the buildup of dead skin cells and other impurities in the pores.
Blot Your Chest
Since sweat and sebum can alter your skin’s pH and trap dirt and bacteria that can lead to blackheads and pimples, it’s important to keep areas like the chest and breast clean and dry at all times.
This is why it’s a good idea to blot your skin with a clean towel or unscented paper towel after sweating or applying any products that can cause your skin to become oily.
Best Breast Acne Treatment
Breast acne can be controlled and prevented with the use of cosmetic products that are specifically designed for this purpose.
Some excellent ingredients to look for in these products are the following:
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid found in many over-the-counter toners, serums, and lotions.
This component works by cutting through the skin’s surface oil and traveling deeper into the pores to dissolve the gunk made up of dead skin cells, hardened sebum, and other cellular debris that’s causing a stiff plug.
This will, in turn, allow for our natural skin oil to flow freely out of the pores instead of remaining stuck inside and causing issues such as blackheads, whiteheads, and inflamed acne.
Salicylic acid is also an antibacterial and soothing ingredient that instantly calms and relieves redness caused by pimples.
Glycolic acid is the strongest and most potent member of the alpha-hydroxy acid family, and this is due to having the smallest molecular weight, which allows it to work faster.
For this reason, glycolic acid can sometimes be too strong for the sensitive skin on the face; however, it’s exceptionally good at targeting issues such as blackheads, whiteheads, and acne in other parts of the body, like the chest and breasts.
Glycolic acid has antibacterial properties, and it also works on the surface of the skin to dissolve the proteins that hold dead skin cells together, allowing them to shed and turnover at a faster rate, which will prevent them from getting stuck inside the pores and causing stiff plugs that lead to the formation of non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne lesions.
Benzoyl peroxide is a topical acne medication available in over-the-counter products at varying strengths.
It’s most commonly used to treat mild to moderate inflammatory acne, but it can also help eliminate blackheads on the face and body.
Similarly to salicylic acid, when benzoyl peroxide is applied to the skin, it cuts through the superficial oil on its surface and travels deeper inside the pores, infusing the passage with oxygen to destroy the airless environment bacteria need to survive.
Additionally, benzoyl peroxide is a keratolytic agent, which essentially means it can break down the keratin plug that consists of sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria formed at the base of the follicle. This action will not only unclog the pores but also help prevent future breakouts.
Best Products For Removing Blackheads from Breasts
The easiest way to remove blackheads from the chest and breast is to keep these areas clean and not use too many lotions, moisturizers, and body oils that can clog the pores.
You can do this by using cleansers that contain active ingredients such as salicylic acid to exfoliate and deep-cleanse the pores and dissolve the gunk that can easily build up into a hardened plug.
One excellent option is the CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser which contains 0.5% salicylic acid, a mild concentration of the active ingredient that won’t irritate the skin and can be used daily.
You can also incorporate some form of benzoyl peroxide treatment; however, this component can cause bleaching and staining, so it’s best to use a wash-off form, such as a cleanser, to avoid ruining your clothes, sheets, and towels.
One excellent option is the PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash which contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, the maximum strength in over-the-counter products.
However, due to the strength of this product, it’s advisable to be used no more than 2-3 times a week, as it can potentially cause dryness and irritation if overused.
Lastly, you can also consider using a leave-on treatment that contains a mild concentration of glycolic acid to help exfoliate the skin and promote a healthy turnover of dead skin cells.
The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is an affordable and effective product that can be used once or twice a week, depending on your skin’s tolerance.