Neck Acne: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

neck acne

Acne is by far the most common skin condition in the world. Most Americans will experience acne at some point, with multiple flare-ups throughout adolescence and even possibly throughout adulthood. The latest studies reveal 50 million Americans will experience some form of acne every year.

Anyone who experiences facial acne can also experience body acne, including the neck area. An often-neglected aspect of many people’s skincare routine is the neck. Acne on the neck often appears due to inadequate hygiene in this area.

Like other forms of acne, a patient’s neck breaking out is not a cause for panic. Several effective prescription and over-the-counter solutions exist for dealing with this problem.

Types of Neck Acne

Unfortunately, there are various forms of acne on the neck, meaning the cause is not universal. There can be several types of pimples on the neck, meaning treatments may differ as well. Understanding what is causing neck pimples enables dermatologists to develop the best approach to treating the problem.

In total, there are four major types of acne on the neck:

  • Pustules – These bumps are red, tender, and often filled with pus.
  • Papules – Appearing in clusters and looking much like a rash, these solid skin elevations appear on both the hairline and the neck. Hair products often irritate the skin and lead to papules.
  • Nodules – Deep lumps that form beneath the skin. Nodules are often painful and may need professional medical assistance. Home remedies and over-the-counter treatments may not be effective.
  • Cystic Acne – This is the most severe form of acne, and removing cystic acne often goes beyond home treatments. These cysts form deep beneath the skin and cause inflammation around nerve endings. Hormonal imbalances can be responsible for this type of pimple. Women often experience them during menstruation and pregnancy.

Pimples on the neck may come and go, but some people experience chronic acne long into adulthood. Visit a dermatologist, and they will be able to diagnose the specific acne type before deciding on a course of treatment.

What Causes Neck Acne?

The first step in treating and preventing neck acne is asking one crucial question: “Why is my neck breaking out?” Knowing what is causing your breakouts is the first step in finding the right treatment. Several risk factors could trigger a pimple on the neck.

Acne forms due to the pores in the skin becoming clogged. Oil pores, known as hair follicles, contain sebum produced by the sebaceous gland. On the other hand, sweat pores cannot be seen with the naked human eye.

The pores on the back of the neck cause the problem. In much the same way facial acne forms, neck pimples occur due to pores becoming clogged by bacteria, dead skin cells, and an overproduction of sebum.

Once pores become clogged, an infection can break out, which is why acne is red and inflamed. Here are some of the leading neck acne causes.

1. Skin Type

Some types of skin may produce more sebum than others. People with oily skin are naturally more prone to breakouts. There is no way to alter a person’s skin type. Some people may require medical intervention if they have especially oily skin.

2. Comedogenic Products

The definition of “comedogenic” is essentially pore-clogging. Sunscreen, makeup, and other topicals can clog the pores. Once the pores become clogged, oil, sweat, and dead skin cells can produce a breeding ground for bacteria-causing acne.

3. Skin Irritation

Irritated and damaged skin may also lead to acne. Harsh treatments like exfoliants or chemical peels can increase the risk of a breakout. Products that contain alcohol and other skin-drying chemicals may strip away the skin’s natural moisture. The body may respond by producing extra oil to compensate.

4. Poor Hygiene

Someone who experiences acne on the neck may find that poor hygiene is the cause. Many people wash their faces but neglect to wash their necks. Washing both the face and neck every morning and or evening is essential to practicing good skincare.

5. Fluctuations in Hormones

Hormones may also play a role in the development of acne. Women often report worsening acne symptoms in the days leading up to their monthly cycle. In total, 85% of women with acne say their symptoms worsen during this period. Hormonal fluctuations are the reason why adolescents are the group with the highest prevalence of all kinds of acne.

6. Stress

Stress is not a direct cause of acne, but it can act as a contributing factor. Scientists believe that stress leads to the skin producing more oil via its sebaceous glands. Stress increases cortisol production, which is responsible for the overproduction of sebum. It is known that stress creates inflammation, which can slow down the healing process and lead to breakouts lasting longer.

How to Get Rid of Neck Acne

Treating acne on the neck works in the same way as dealing with facial acne. Unless you’re dealing with cystic acne, most breakouts will resolve themselves independently. Most people who experience adolescent acne will grow out of breakouts.

On the other hand, some adults experience occasional acne flare-ups. To combat a pimple on the neck, several home remedies can help. If all else fails, professional intervention through a dermatologist may be required.

How to Treat Neck Acne at Home

Home treatments for acne can help resolve the problem. Unless you have chronic acne, infrequent breakouts may be dealt with without medical intervention. With prompt home treatment, acne may clear up within a few days.

While there are countless home treatment recommendations, these are among the most common:

  • Avocado Oil – Rich in linoleic acid, oleic acid, and several vitamins, avocado oil is a topical treatment for improving skin health and fighting off damaging free radicals. It is an excellent option for refreshing the skin.
  • Colloidal Oatmeal – Ground oat kernel provides a supply of antioxidants to address irritated, dry skin. Various over-the-counter colloidal oatmeal products exist within most drug stores.
  • Ice – Ice is the simplest way to treat growing pimples on the back of the neck. Applying ice helps reduce swelling and reduces redness.
  • Aloe – Most commonly used to heal sunburns, aloe promotes skin healing while soothing irritated, dry, and inflamed skin.
  • Quinoa – Quinoa is an excellent all-natural exfoliator. Cooked quinoa may also be used as a gentle neck scrub to clean pores and remove blockages.

Because diet, stress, and hygiene products may play a role in the formation of acne, making positive lifestyle changes in these categories could be an effective home acne treatment option.

How to Treat Neck Acne Professionally

In severe acne cases or where home treatments have failed, a visit to a qualified dermatologist may be required. They may decide to prescribe topical or oral medications or both. Some of the options a dermatologist may explore include:

  • Topical Retinoids – The frontline treatment for mild to moderate acne. Retinoids remove dead skin cells and prevent pore-clogging.
  • Anti-androgen Drugs – Oral therapy to curtail excess androgens in the body. Mainly used in treating female hormonal acne. Spironolactone is one of the most popular anti-androgen drugs for acne.
  • Isotretinoin – A much stronger medication for severe nodulocystic acne. Isotretinoin is oral vitamin A that targets the amount of oil released by the skin.

Dermatologists will typically trial each medication option for a minimum of three months. Some people may experience immediate improvements, whereas others may not notice a change for weeks.

How to Prevent Neck Acne

Take proactive action to avoid breakouts. By making several lifestyle changes and developing positive skincare habits, some people with acne can reduce the frequency and severity of their flare-ups.

It begins with practicing good hygiene. Addressing acne requires cleaning the face and neck with a gentle scrub and moisturizing thoroughly in the morning and the evening.

Adults and children should wear breathable clothing that hangs loosely on the body. Acne mechanica is caused by skin irritation via tight-fitting clothing rubbing against the skin and increased sweat production.

Dietary changes are also helpful. Adopting a low-glycemic diet involving cutting out foods like sugar, white bread, and pasta may lead to fewer breakouts.

Finally, lifestyle changes may be required to address the problem in the long term. Living a less stressful lifestyle by cutting out triggers could have a positive impact.

Take Action with Vial CRO

While acne on the neck may be less common than facial acne, it can be just as problematic. Thankfully, the same effective facial acne treatments also work for neck acne.

New, more potent treatments for acne are in constant development. Contribute to the next generation of acne treatments by joining a clinical trial with Vial, a renowned Dermatology CRO.

Sponsors Looking to Run Skin Clinical Trials

Vial is a fast-growing contract research organization and a trusted partner for biotech, pharmaceutical, or biopharma companies looking to conduct skin trials to treat face, neck, or body acne. Vial has experience conducting both drug and medical device trials across Phases I – IV within the dermatology industry and is a leading global CRO. Vial’s mission is to help researchers conduct faster, more efficient, and affordable clinical trials, without sacrificing quality.

To learn more about how Vial can help sponsors run faster, more efficient skin trials, contact a Vial team member today.

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