How to Remove Pimples on Arms and Shoulders: Combat Body Acne

Pimples On Arms Shoulders

As the weather turns warm, it’s time to wear those sleeveless cotton dresses for better comfort. However, one thing that might stop you from doing it would be the sudden outbreak of pimples on your shoulders and arms. Even if they occur on your shoulders or arms, they can be annoying. Read on to know what type of pimples on your arms and shoulders you are dealing with to get the proper treatment and prevent future outbreaks.

What Are the Pimples On Arms and Shoulders?

When there is a breakout on your arms and shoulders, it might be more likely caused by folliculitis, which is also known as keratosis pilaris. When your body produces an excess amount of keratin within the hair follicles, it leads to keratosis pilaris [1]. This skin condition occurs when the dead skin cells don’t shed regularly and get converted into plugs due to pore blockage. These pimples look like bumps but are shallower and smaller than regular pimples. They are not red and have pus filling inside. This skin condition can be found in people of all ages but is much more common among young kids [2]. They can be easily identified by their distinct traits discussed below:

  • Painless small-sized bumps on your upper arms spreading to your shoulders
  • The skin having these tiny pimples tends to be rough and extremely dry
  • Seasonal changes like low humidity levels kindle worse breakouts
  • Touching these bumps will feel like running your finger through sandpaper, which has earned it the nickname – chicken skin

Are Such Pimples On Arms and Shoulders Common?

The pimples on your arms or shoulders are similar to those on your face or other body parts. It can affect men and women of different age groups when the skin pores get clogged. The pores get blocked owing to the buildup of dead cells and too much oil secretion. The oil glands in your shoulders are much more active than those in your arms, so they are prone to more breakouts. Compared to your face, the skin pores in your arms are more prominent. So, the formation of pimples on the arms and shoulders takes more time to develop than on your face.

However, once the breakouts begin, it is much more severe than the ones you get on your face. These pimples can be irritating, painful, filled with pus, or itchy. If not treated on time, the spots present on your shoulders and arms may lead to scarring and create marks on the skin. It can also cause damage to your skin’s texture and complexion.

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    Identifying The Root Causes of Pimples On Arms and Shoulders

    Pimples Shoulders
    To get the right type of treatment for pimples on arms and shoulders, it is important to identify the underlying causes. Below are some root causes that trigger the development of pimples on arms and shoulders.

    • A Shift in Hormones: Men or women who might be facing changes in their hormone levels will have highly active sebaceous glands. These glands will produce too much oil, which in turn can cause pimples on the arms and shoulders.
    • Hyperactivity of Oil Glands: As discussed earlier, sebaceous glands secrete natural oils to keep your skin hydrated. This activity will cause pimples when they produce a lot of sebum that clogs pores[3].
    • Irritation Caused by Fabrics: If you were wearing tight-fitting clothes or tried a new fabric type, it may result in skin irritation. This, in turn, may cause the formation of pimples on your arms or shoulders.
    • Scalp Issues: If you have an oily scalp, it might trigger issues like dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. These scalp conditions like dandruff can lead to pimples on your shoulder and arms.
    • Sun Sensitivity: People who have sensitive skin are at high risk of developing pimples, as their skin reacts badly to the sunlight. So, the areas exposed to direct sun rays like the arms and shoulder, will have pimple outbreaks and rashes.
    • Food Allergy or Medicine Side Effects: Specific ingredients in your medication, certain food items, and topical medicines may trigger allergies. This, in turn, causes the development of pimples.
    • Poor Hygiene: People maintaining poor hygiene, like wearing unwashed clothes and not taking baths regularly, are prone to developing pimples on their shoulders and arms.

    Preventive Measures to Avoid Pimples On Arms and Shoulders

    Your dermatologist would advise you to follow some preventive tips to lower the episodes of breakouts of pimples on your arms and shoulders.

    1. Use Gentle Cleanser

    Gentle Cleanser
    Ditch skin products with harsh ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, as it can irritate and worsen the pimples. Use skin cleaners with a gentle formula to avoid future pimple breakouts on arms and shoulders. Also, avoid taking showers in hot water, as it can rob the natural oils off your skin.

    2. Don’t Forget To Moisturize

    Choose moisturizing products that have urea as a significant ingredient to have better control over breakouts. Remember to wear your sunscreen formulated with SPF 30 or higher whenever you head outdoors to shield your sensitive skin from sun damage.

    3. Avoid Too Much Exfoliation

    Even though exfoliation keeps your skin pores free from clogs, too much can harm your skin. So, make sure that you exfoliate your skin gently once a week using a mild scrub. Avoid scrubbing the skin harshly, as it can lead to excess breakouts with irritation and inflammation.

    4. Eat Nutritious Food

    Leafy Vegetables
    Certain deficiencies like lack of zinc or vitamins E and A may cause phrynoderma eruptions similar to pimples. Your diet should have nutritious foods like green leafy vegetables, red meat, eggs, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and almonds. Ensure you follow a low glycemic index diet plan to prevent the occurrence of pimples on the arms and shoulders.

    Effective Treatment Options for Pimples On Arms and Shoulders

    Your dermatologist might prescribe the treatment options listed below to lower the pimple breakouts on your shoulders and arms.

    1. Chemical Peels

    Chemical Peels
    The treatment using chemical peel will have naturally extracted acid in various concentration strengths to meet the specific needs of your skin. It performs by exfoliating the topmost skin layer, which holds the excess keratin and dead skin cells[4]. This treatment helps prevent pimple breakouts by keeping sebum production under control. It has anti-inflammatory properties to relieve the swelling in and around the pimples. Salicylic peel and Glycolic peel are the most used chemical peel treatments for controlling arm and shoulder pimples.

    a) Glycolic Peels

    This treatment uses Glycolic Acid, a variant of the AHAs or alpha-hydroxy acids. These peels work by exfoliating the upper layer of your skin to control pimple breakouts effectively. Glycolic Peels are also helpful for cutting down aging signs and correcting uneven skin tone[5].

    b) Salicylic Peels

    These peels treat pimples by penetrating the deep layers of your skin to curb excess sebum production. It is prescribed for both men and women with varied skin types.

    However, avoid using these peels to treat the pimples on the arms and shoulders on your own. Consult an expert dermatologist at a reputed skin clinic for chemical peels, as these peels have varied chemical strengths to treat different conditions.

    2. Medicated Products

    When prescribing chemical peels, your dermatologist will also suggest you use topical medicines like gels, creams, and lotions. These prescribed medicines may contain effective ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. Avoid using OTC or over-the-counter medications and anti-acne products available at the drug store without a prescription. These products need to have proven efficiency in pimple treatment and might not suit your skin type.

    3. Prescription Medications

    Your doctor may prescribe medications, such as pills, based on the severity of the pimples on the arm and shoulder. These medications can include antibiotics, contraceptives, and hormone therapy that have ingredients like doxycycline, flutamide, ethinyl estradiol, and benzoyl peroxide [6].

    When to Seek Professional Help?

    Pimples on the arms and shoulders might clear up in a few weeks or when using OTC products. You must consult dermatologist at Kolors Healthcare if the pimple breakout is severe or gets worse or if not responding to creams or gels.


    1. Department of Dermatology, Seth GS Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai –
    2. NIAMS –
    3. National Library of Medicine –
    4. Department of Dermatology & Venereology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China –
    5. Skinfiniti Aesthetic Skin and Laser Clinic, Mumbai, India –
    6. Cochrane Database Syst Rev:PMC7077870 –


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