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How to Get Rid of Neck Acne, According to Dermatologists

As if facial acne wasn't bad enough...

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

We often think of acne as something that affects our faces, but these pesky—and sometimes downright painful—red bumps can crop up pretty much anywhere we have pores. That includes our backs (bacne), scalps, jawlines, and even our necks and decolletage.

Neck acne is particularly frustrating because it’s highly visible, this delicate area is sensitive, and because it’s prone to scarring. There are a handful of common neck acne causes, which we’re pinpointing below with some skincare insight. We’re also diving into ways to treat acne so you can say goodbye to these bumps for good.

RELATED: 8 Things That Might Be Causing Your Adult Acne—and How to Deal (Without Making It Worse)

What Are Common Causes of Neck Acne?

Just like other types of acne, neck acne has a handful of common triggers. Each type may present a little differently from the next, notes Azadeh Shirazi, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and owner of skincare brand AziMD. She says you can let visual clues help you figure out the specific cause.

  • Hair or Skincare Products: These appear as a rash-like cluster of small red pimples, typically around the hairline or back of the neck. You can also get neck acne if you’re not adequately washing lotion or skincare products each day.

  • Hormones: Deep, red painful lumps are seen with acne cysts particularly with hormonal acne or nodule cystic acne. Dr. Shirazi says this is more common in women.

  • Chafing/Friction: Collars or clothing rubbing the skin can lead to neck breakouts, as can shaving this area. Dr. Shirazi says, “They’re not scaly, flaky, or dry patches like other irritant rashes, but rather individual red bumps,”

  • Inflammation/Ingrown Hairs: “Red bumps around your hairs are often folliculitis, which may be related to shaving, ingrown hairs, or follicle infection,” says Dr. Shirazi. This is often caused by shaving.

How Do You Get Rid of Neck Acne?

Figuring out the cause of neck acne is the quickest path toward treating it. Once you know the trigger, you can eliminate it and your skin can begin clearing up. Here are some other effective ways you can get rid of neck acne.

Keep Your Neck Clean

In the same way you wash your face every day, it’s important to cleanse your neck and decolletage. Even if you’re not directly applying products to this area, it’s exposed to hair products, facial care products, and (hopefully) sunscreen. Your go-to face wash will do the trick, or Dr. Shirazi recommends CeraVe’s Acne Control Cleanser($14.99, Amazon). Pat dry with a fresh, clean towel.

“Removing your makeup and cleansing the area at the end of the day helps improve neck breakouts,” Dr. Shirazi says. “If you sweat or workout be sure to rinse off right after and if you can’t I suggest on-the-go wipes.”

Wear Soft, Clean Clothes

Similarly, make sure the clothes you wear are clean and soft, and change out of sweaty gym clothes asap. Dr. Shirazi says, “Avoid anything that rubs on the neck skin, whether it’s from your hand or collars as friction worsens acne breakouts.”

Use Non-Comedogenic Shampoo & Conditioner

Hair care products are notorious for causing body acne, and your neck is a hot spot for residue. If you suspect this is the cause, switch to a non-comedogenic hair care system such as SEEN Hair Care.

Exfoliate—But Gently!

A gentle exfoliating product can help cut through acne, but don’t overdo it. “The neck skin is thinner and more delicate, so be sure to avoid over exfoliating as it can disrupt the skin barrier and lead to breakouts,” says Dr. Shirazi.

Try Colleen Rothschild Beauty's Overnight Treatment ($34, Colleen Rothschild) which combines azelaic acid and licorice root to combat blemishes. Or, apply AZELAIC10 ($79, AziMD), a hydrating serum with 10% azelaic acid. Dr. Shirazi says, “Azelaic acid is a great treatment for neck acne, as it's a gentle exfoliant, it's antimicrobial, and helps calm redness and inflammation.

Be Mindful With Perfume

Perfume is a sneaky neck acne culprit. We often spritz right on our necks, but fragrances are known for being irritating and drying. Dr. Shirazi says, “Avoid perfume in the area and look for fragrance free, sensitive skin neck products.” If you can’t bear leaving the perfume behind, try spraying it on the exterior of your garment versus directly on your skin.

See Your Dermatologist

If you’re dealing with deep, painful cystic acne on your neck and it won’t go away, Dr. Shirazi says that's your cue to meet up with a dermatologist. They can help target individual bumps that won’t go away and/or they can create a targeted and effective acne treatment plan.

“If you suffer from nodulocystic acne despite topical treatments, see a dermatologist for oral medications like Spironolactone as this type of acne is deep and topicals alone are not effective,” she says.

Acne treatments take time to work, and sometimes you’ll need to try a few things before you figure out a regimen that works for you. Stay the course, and when in doubt see your dermatologist.

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