How to Treat Sweat Acne on the Chest

Woman lifting weights in gym
A woman in a black top lifts handweights in a gym. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Acne on your chest or body can be embarrassing. Working up a sweat during intense exercise may burn calories, improve your cardiovascular fitness and make you feel good, but it may also bring on an acne breakout. Acne on your chest caused by sweat can be treated with acne medication, gentle washing and selecting the right clothes, so you do not have to choose between a having lean body or having clear skin.

Step 1

Select workout bras and loose tops made from soft, breathable and "moisture wicking" fabrics from companies like Lucy, Athleta and Under Armour. Each company has its own name for these fabric blends, such as Pilayo or Supplex, but all are usually made with cotton. Check the labels at your local sporting goods store, or shop online. Tight clothing can irritate your skin and cause breakouts. Clothing may also trap sweat close to the skin, encouraging the development of acne on your chest.

Step 2

Wash your chest with a gentle cleanser after workouts. Harsh cleansers may irritate your skin and increase acne, but mild cleansers will remove sweat and make for easier absorption of topical acne treatments. AcneGuide.com recommends water-soluble and oil-free cleansers.

Step 3

Apply a topical acne lotion, cream or gel to your chest. Be generous and use the medication everywhere, not just where your current blemishes are, as topical acne treatments are effective in preventing acne. Try a product containing 10 percent alpha hydroxy acids with licochalcone, as recommended by Acne.org.

Step 4

Wash sweaty clothes with unscented laundry detergents, as ingredients used for scent may also irritate the skin on your chest and increase breakouts. Use unscented fabric softeners as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Face cleanser

  • Topical acne medication

  • Breathable workout clothes

Tip

Visit your dermatologist if you don’t see results in six to eight weeks. Acne medications take time to work, but if there is no improvement within a couple of months, you may need more extreme treatment. Dermatologists can prescribe stronger topical medications and even oral antibiotics. Acne can have several causes, and it is possible that the acne on your chest will need multiple treatments.
Wash your chest, face and acne-prone body parts once in the morning and once at night every day, as well as after workouts. Wear tops made from breathable fabrics like cotton on hot days when you think you might sweat. Washing your skin off as quickly as possible after it is exposed to sweat is ideal, but you're probably not going to be able to take frequent showers throughout the day, especially if you are at work.

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