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Those tiny red bumps on your upper arms are more common than you think. But here’s the good news: you can treat them.
We know how frustrating it is when you want to bear your arms in a pretty sleeveless dress, only to feel slightly self-conscious about your upper arm breakouts. You shouldn’t let that stop you from wearing what you want to, but if it’s getting you down, there are ways to treat the issue.
Let us show us you how with the right products, all under $50!
It could be anything from folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles) to keratosis pilaris. Most often, it’s the latter.
“KP is due to plugs of dead skin in the follicles,” says Arielle Nagler, MD, a dermatologist with NYU Langone Health in New York City. “It’s most commonly found on the upper arms and legs but can also be seen on other areas of the skin.”
Keratosis pilaris usually begins in early childhood or during the teenage years, but it can present itself well into your adult years. Don’t worry, it’s completely harmless, but we understand it can be annoying. Most often, this skin condition affects people with atopic dermatitis or eczema and tends to be a lifelong condition.
Fortunately, you can treat KP and other issues causing your arm acne with the right skincare products. Let us show you which ones!
The best way to treat arm acne is to follow a routine that actively addresses your breakouts. By staying consistent, you’ll soon reap the benefits of it and enjoy smooth, zit-free arms.
To unplug built-up dead skin cells that cause arm acne, you’ll need to keep the area clean and exfoliated. Look for products that contain salicylic acid and retinol to clear pores and keep your arms blemish-free. This’ll help keep bacteria at bay and prevent dead skin cells from accumulating and clogging your pores.
“If you have sensitive skin, salicylic acid is a better choice since it is better tolerated than benzoyl peroxide,” says dermatologist Marina Peredo. “Benzoyl peroxide is best suited for people with normal and less sensitive skin.” We’d say, go with salicylic acid!
Salicylic acid is an awesome ingredient at targeting acne and preventing breakouts.
“It’s lipophilic, which means it’s absorbed by and dissolved into fats,” says Austin, Texas-based dermatologist Ted Lain. “The natural oil secreted by the hair follicles all over your body, called sebum, contains a lot of fat, so salicylic acid is able to penetrate deeper into pores than alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic or lactic acid.”
Truly’s CBD Jelly Anti-Blemish Body Cleanser is made with salicylic acid, watermelon, and retinol to purify the skin of oil, dirt, and grime.
Apply a large helping of the product to the affected area. Massage in to create a lather and leave it to sit on the skin for 30-60 seconds before rinsing off. You can also apply to other acne-prone areas like your back, chest, and butt. Use daily for best results.
In addition to cleansing, arm acne is best treated with hydration. In fact, not moisturizing your skin enough could be the culprit behind your arm acne.
“When the skin is dry, it can be more irritated and make acne look and appear worse,” explains Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist. “With acne, the issue is inflammation in the skin—most acne responds better and improves when you calm it down. Therefore, moisturizing is helpful.”
On that note, we don’t recommend applying any old moisturizer to your acne. You still need to be savvy about the products you’re using – or more particularly, the ingredients you use. For instance, avoid lotions that are comedogenic or occlusive as these can clog the pores, worsening breakouts.
“Choose an oil-free, lightweight moisturizer and ingredients like ceramides or hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Nazarian. “These will help make your skin stronger and to maintain more water and hydration with continued use.”
Coco Rose Fudge Whipped Body is a great choice to hydrate your skin without clogging your pores and causing more arm acne. Made with coconut, rose, shea butter, and algae extract, this formula nourishes the skin and delivers plenty of hydration.
Apply the butter all over your body after showering or bathing. A little goes a long way, so you don’t need to use too much. For best results, use daily after every shower or bath to lock in hydration and keep arm acne at bay.
The most affordable option of all to treat arm acne --- prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some ways to avoid arm acne and steer clear of it in the future.
Tight clothing can cause keratosis pilaris and acne, so try to avoid wearing this type of clothing as much as possible. If it’s a must, like for workouts, make sure you shower as soon as you’re done working out to prevent the sweat from clogging your pores.
We already recommended a great cleanser to tackle arm acne, but it’s important stay consistent in using it. Make sure you use it every time you’re in the shower to keep dead skin cells away and your pores unclogged.
Exfoliating is important when it comes to arm acne. Instead of splurging on an expensive skincare product, invest in a loofah instead. Use 2-3 times a week to keep your skin smooth and clear.
If, even after trying all of these treatment and prevention methods, you still find yourself dealing with arm breakouts, it might be worth making an appointment with your dermatologist for advice.
They should be able to provide you with topical medication or offer in-office laser treatments to help reduce the appearance of upper arm acne.