How to Treat Arm Acne

As if acne breakouts on your face weren’t bad enough, now you notice the red, inflamed pustules showing up on your arms too. Acne breakouts on your body are caused by many of the same reasons as facial acne. Toss in the extra sweat, body lotion or daily sunscreen, and it’s a wonder the arm acne didn’t appear sooner. Blasting away arm acne requires a stronger treatment method to penetrate thicker arm skin.

Young woman applying product to her arms. (Image: gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Wash the skin on your arms every day, preferably during a shower. Use a dime-size amount of an acne body wash containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Massage the body wash over your arms for 10 seconds each, using firm pressure and a soft wash cloth. Rinse your skin thoroughly and pat it dry.

Step 2

Spread a teaspoon of a clear acne gel containing a 2.5-percent solution of benzyol peroxide over each arm. Apply the gel fairly thickly and allow it to soak in rather than rubbing it in. Wait until the gel dries completely.

Step 3

Spread a thick layer of a 10-percent solution of alpha-hydroxy lotion, also called glycolic acid, over each arm thoroughly. Wait 5 to 10 minutes to allow the lotion to dry completely before getting dressed.

Step 4

Wear clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton, and make sure items are loose and don’t rub against your arms. Avoid tightly fitted clothing made of synthetic materials, which rubs your skin and traps sweat and bacteria.

Step 5

Repeat the skin washing at night followed by the application of benzoyl peroxide and alpha-hydroxy lotion.

Things You'll Need

  • Acne body wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide

  • Acne gel with benzyol peroxide

  • Alpha hydroxy lotion


It can take between four and six weeks to see results from the acne treatment products.

If the bumps appear on the backs of your arms, it may actually be a condition called keratosis pilaris. These raised bumps are different from acne and require a different treatment. Visit a dermatologist to discuss options.


Benzoyl peroxide can fade clothing, so wear a sleeveless shirt or a white shirt under any colored clothing.

Do not pick or squeeze the acne on your arms, as this may spread the acne or cause scaring.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.