A Formulate user who requested to remain anonymous wrote to us with the following question:
I get acne not just on my face, but on my body, particularly on my breasts. It is embarrassing. Is this common, and what causes it? How do I make the clogged pores on my breasts go away?
Thanks for reaching out! To answer your question, we reached out to Dr. Alpana Mohta (MBBS, MD, DNB), a dermatologist, cosmetologist, trichologist, and venereologist.
"One common reason is sebum and bacteria buildup in the area. When sebum and bacteria mix," shares Dr. Mohta. "They can create a blockage in the pores and cause them to become clogged."
"If the clogged pores are due to sweat or bacteria, an antibacterial cleanser may also be helpful. Additionally, it's important to keep the area clean and dry, as moisture can further aggravate the problem."
Hormones are different chemicals in your body that carry messages within the body about what the body needs to do. They control many unconscious bodily processes, including your metabolism, your sleep cycle, and your mood. Hormones are powerful messengers within the body, and fluctuations in hormone levels can cause often unwanted side effects. "When hormone levels fluctuate, it can cause the skin to produce more oil than usual, which can lead to clogged pores," says Dr. Mohta. "If the clogged pores are due to hormones, your doctor may be able to prescribe a medication to help regulate hormone levels."
Dr. Mohta shares, "Some people might also develop an inflammation of the hair follicles, called folliculitis, which might resemble blocked pores." Spending time in a hot tub, wearing tight-fitting clothes while sweating and exercising, and shaving with a razor are all activities that can prompt folliculitis to develop. Some types of folliculitis require a trip to the doctor, while other, more mild variations can be treated at home with a gentle antibacterial cleanser.
"Certain medications or cosmetics can also cause the pores to become blocked," says Dr. Mohta. "If the clogged pores are due to cosmetics, it's important to choose products that are non-comedogenic and won't clog the pores." If you're concerned that a medication that you started taking is causing the pores on your breasts to be clogged, it's a good idea to review the information that came with your medication to see if that is a common side effect. Regardless of if your medication is prescribed by a doctor or if it is available over the counter, the distributor of the medication is required by the FDA to provide information with the product that includes common side effects.
Dr. Mohta shares, "Excessive secretion of sweat mixed with dirt and bacteria during hot and humid months of summer can lead to blockage of sweat gland pores. This is especially common in people who go swimming outdoors during summers. Such patients should be advised to take a shower as soon as they are done swimming, in order to avoid the build-up of pore-blocking substances over the skin."
"There is a chronic skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa in which there might be the development of blackheads, pustules, and abscesses on breasts (and skin folds like axilla, groin and intergluteal cleft)." Hidradentis suppurativa can cause physical discomfort and scarring due to absysses within the skin that break open and leak pus and blood. It may appear similar to acne, but dermatologists have identified that it is a different type of condition. If you are concerned that you might have hidradentis suppurativa, we recommend reading this article from the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
In addition to the interventions above, Dr. Mohta also recommends taking the following steps to care for clogged pores on your breasts:
"The best way to deal with clogged pores on the breasts is to gently cleanse the area with a bar of mild soap and water. A pH-balanced soap having a pH closer to that of skin (pH of 5.3 to 5.5) is considered ideal. Avoid scrubbing the area too harshly, as this can irritate the skin and make the problem worse. "
"If the blockage is in sweat-producing pores, taking cold showers twice a day is advised. Oral vitamin C supplements and the applications of menthol containing creams and calamine lotion are also useful."
"Patients prone to this skin condition are advised not to wax or pluck the hair over their breasts as it can lead to further inflammation and infection."
"One common mistake which many patients commit is using talcum powder to relieve their blocked pores. But one must remember that talcum powder particles can further aggravate the skin condition by blocking the pores of the sweat gland themselves."
"Depending upon the underlying cause, and the type of blocked pores, your dermatologist might prescribe you a salicylic acid wash or peel (if the blockage is in sebum-producing pores). Other commonly used agents are lactic acid containing topical formulations."
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