Acne on your arms: Causes, prevention and treatment

Acne happens when our hair follicles, also known as pores, become clogged with a mixture of oil (produced by the skin), dead skin cells, and bacteria. Since our skin is covered almost head to toe in pores, acne can happen essentially anywhere on our bodies, including our arms. However, it’s important to note that bumps on your arms can actually be a number of other conditions besides acne. In order to take care of the bumps in the correct manner and make a speedy recovery, you should properly identify them so you can correctly treat them.

Arm acne causes

There are three conditions besides acne that can commonly be the cause for bumps on your arms: keratosis pilaris, folliculitis and hives. If you don’t think the bumps on your arms are one of those three conditions, the likely culprit is arm acne. Arm acne is a common form of body acne, caused by many of the same things as standard facial acne.

If you don’t include your arms in your skincare routine once they’ve identified them as a problem area for your acne, chances are they will continue to be a common breakout area. Everyone’s skin is different, and everyone gets breakouts in different places. If you experience more than the occasional breakout on your arms, make sure to include them as part of your daily skincare routine. Your arms will thank you!

One unique cause of arm acne can be sweating underneath tight gym clothes. Many workout clothing lines feature tight performance garments. If the material isn’t fully breathable and you have an intense workout that causes you to sweat, you are creating a humid environment beneath your clothes that acne thrives in. The sweat, oil and dead skin can more easily mix when everything is tightly packed, which leads to arm acne. And acne mechanica could be a culprit from tight fitting clothes that rub against your arms repeatedly where the friction alone causes acne to form.

How to prevent arm acne

If possible, avoid wearing tight, form-fitting clothing. If you do wear tight clothing and sweat a lot during your outdoor activities or work out, make sure to shower right after and change into clean clothes.

Stay on top of your hygiene, shower and wash areas where you normally experience breakouts. That doesn’t mean to scrub too hard! Scrubbing too hard can irritate skin and lead to rashes.

Drinking plenty of water is also important. When you are dehydrated, your skin dries out. Dry skin naturally produces more oil to moisturize itself. More oil means a higher chance of clogged pores! It can be a vicious cycle.

Wash your sheets often, at least once per week. Even if you shower at night, dust and miniature debris can gather on your bed and pillowcases throughout the day. Then you can end up lying in it all night – a recipe for acne! The key to preventing this is to build a regular schedule for sheet and blanket washing, and stick to it. Who knew laundry could be a regular part of your skincare routine?! It’s true.

How to get rid of arm acne

Once you’re sure the bumps on your arms are arm acne, you can move onto treatment.

One method to help clear up arm acne is to gently exfoliate the skin to increase skin cell turnover. Exfoliation helps to cleanse the skin of impurities such as dead skin cells that might cause or further irritate acne breakouts.

Practicing proper shower techniques can also help fight arm acne. Making sure to clean any problem areas for your acne with a soap, cleanser or medicated body wash can go a long way toward getting your skin back into its best shape. (Psst: Proactiv has a fabulous Acne Body Wash…)

The bottom line

The arms are a common place for acne. By properly ruling out other skin issues that are similar in appearance, you can ensure you apply the best treatment for your situation. If you’re looking for a personalized solution that can help you achieve your clearest skin, and keep it that way, try taking this skincare quiz to find the right proactiv product for you.