Many people who develop acne pimples on the face also get them on the neck. While spots and whiteheads on the face get the most attention, those on the neck regularly get overlooked. The reason is that the neck is often concealed with hair, clothing, or jewelry and doesn’t usually get as much visibility as the face. However, it is still open to pores clogging, bacterial proliferation, and other problems that lead to pimples.
Pimples on the neck are usually in the form of swollen, small, and hard lumps. They can be as frustrating and uncomfortable there as on the face or other visible body areas. But is that a reason to panic?
Fortunately, the answer is NO.
You can significantly reduce or even eliminate neck pimples with some simple yet effective measures that we will discuss in this blog post.
But first, let’s begin with why you might get pimples on your neck.
Causes of Pimples on the Neck (Neck Acne)
Various factors can contribute to the development of those pesky acne pimples on the neck. The most common are as follows
Hormonal Fluctuations or Imbalances
Neck pimples can be a result of hormonal acne, which can affect individuals at various life stages. They may occur during puberty, menstruation or menopause, pregnancy, or due to any other internal or external factor that triggers hormonal changes.
Sometimes, neck acne can occur due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which the ovaries produce an excess hormone called androgen, stimulating oil production in the skin. Women with this condition usually experience acne flare-ups around menstrual periods. These flare-ups generally occur on the upper neck, chin, or jawline.
Hormonal acne, in general, may cause pimples on the neck, jawline, lower face, chest, and back. These pimples may be cystic in nature, which is one of the most painful acne manifestations.
A good wash every night will go a long way in preventing pimples on your neck. The neck skin is usually thinner and drier than facial skin and is more prone to accumulating dead cells, dust, bacteria, and other impurities. Failure to regularly clean your neck skin can lead to pores clogging with all these contaminants, increasing the risk of acne and pimples.
While more research is needed to establish a profound link between neck pimples and stress, many existing studies suggest that stress may contribute to the prevalence of acne. When you are stressed, your body releases more cortisol, also known as stress hormone. This hormone may trigger excess sebum (skin’s natural oil) production, which contributes to pores clogging and causing acne breakouts.
Another way stress increases the risk of acne is that it distracts you from your hygiene routine.
Skin Care and Makeup Products
Skincare products can offer additional support to your skin health. However, the same products do more harm than good if you forget about cleaning your skin at the end of the day. For instance, good-quality sunscreen indeed protects your neck skin from harmful UV rays. But if not washed away before you go the bed, it can clog skin pores and hair follicles, leading to an increased risk of acne vulgaris.
Furthermore, many skincare and makeup products are comedogenic in nature. The term ‘comedogenic’ refers to the ability of something to clog pores. Hence, if these products are not washed off before bed or after a day of wear, they may cause skin oil and bacteria to be trapped inside the pores and hair follicles, increasing the risk of pimples.
Clothing that Rubs Your Skin
When rubbed by clothes or jewelry, like necklaces, your neck skin may endure significant friction. This friction and resultant irritation can lead to a type of acne known as acne mechanica.
Types of Neck Acne or Pimples
Neck pimples can occur in many forms, each of which may require specific or even personalized treatment. Therefore, identifying the type of neck acne is vital to determining the treatment you must get.
In general, there are four major types of acne pimples that can erupt on your neck skin.
- Pustules: These pimples or bumps are usually red and tender and may be filled with pus.
- Papules: These pimples usually grow in clusters and appear like rashes. These are usually elevated from the skin surface and commonly appear on the neck or hairline. Papules usually occur due to irritation caused by hair products.
- Nodules: These lumpy formations typically develop deep beneath the skin and are often painful. Generally, nodules do not respond to OTC(over-the-counter) products or remedies and may need treatment in a clinical or professional setting.
- Cystic acne: This acne develops deep beneath the skin, usually causing inflammation that affects nerve endings and adjacent tissues. For this reason, it is the most severe and painful acne among other types.Cystic acne can have multiple causes, including hormonal imbalances during pregnancy and menstruation, as well as genetic factors.
Best Ways to Get Rid Of Pimples on the Neck
There is a wide array of pimple treatments to choose from, depending on the type and severity of acne pimples you have on the neck. Generally, mild acne pimples can be treated using over-the-counter products and medications. On the other hand, moderate to severe acne will likely need a combination of vigilant skin care at home and specialized treatment prescribed or performed by the dermatologist.
Several OTC products primarily help treat mild acne. These products may contain the same ingredients as those used in prescription medications but in milder concentrations.
OTC products are generally available as toners, creams, washes, and gels, with about 0.025% to 10% of their contents consisting of the following ingredients
- Benzoyl peroxide: an antibacterial agent that also reduces the amount of sebum in the pores
- Salicylic acid: an anti-inflammatory agent with exfoliating properties
- Alpha hydroxy acids: such as lactic acid and glycolic acid
- Sulfur: known for its antibacterial properties
- Topical Retinoids: one of the most preferred options to treat mild to moderate acne
- Niacinamide: known for its anti-inflammatory properties
If you have acne pimples due to fluctuating hormonal levels, you may consider using oral contraceptive pills. These pills contain estrogen and progestin, both of which help regulate hormonal activity in the body. Progestin, in particular, helps lower the impact of androgens on the skin, reducing sebum production. While evidence suggests that any contraceptive pill can help manage acne, speaking to your doctor is imperative before taking one.
Other popular oral medications for acne pimples include the following
- Spironolactone: This drug curtails excess androgen activity in the body, reducing the risk of acne breakouts.
- Isotretinoin: It is a more potent medicine that helps treat severe nodulocystic acne by reducing the amount of oil produced by sebaceous glands.
Lasers can help treat neck pimples by reducing sebum production. When directed at the affected skin area, these lasers induce a photothermal or phototoxic effect, which helps reduce the ability of sebaceous glands to produce oil. The lasers may also create a bactericidal effect, making the skin environment uninhabitable for P. acnes, the bacteria strain known to increase acne risk. The laser most commonly used for treating acne pimples on the neck is ND: YAG.
According to research, supplements with adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats may reduce acne severity. The following supplements may help treat acne or reduce the risk of breakouts.
- Vitamin D supplements: According to multiple studies, low vitamin D levels may be linked to a higher risk of acne. Therefore, if you have active acne or acne-prone skin, your doctor may check for vitamin D deficiency in your body. Based on the results, they will recommend appropriate supplementation.
- Green tea: This healthy food is loaded with anti-inflammatory agents, some of which may help reduce the severity of your acne or acne risk.
- Fish oil: It is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found effective at reducing acne severity. However, according to limited research, fish oil may sometimes worsen acne. Therefore, speaking to your doctor before trying this supplement is imperative.
- B Vitamins: Vitamin B supplementation may benefit people with acne, as reported by some studies. However, high doses of vitamin B12 have been found to trigger or worsen acne in some individuals.
- Zinc: Zinc is known for its skin-friendly properties. According to multiple studies, it may reduce acne severity and can be used as a supplement to boost skin health.
How to Prevent Pimples on the Neck?
As with any other skin condition, acne pimples on the neck or other body areas are easy to prevent. Here are ways to reduce the risk of these pesky spots and keep your skin fresh and flawless.
- Use body and hair products that are well-suited for your skin.
- Avoid picking at your pimples.
- Give your skin a thorough wash daily, especially after exercise.
- Shampoo your hair to keep your scalp and hairline free from contaminants.
- Instead of scrubbing, wash your neck skin gently.
- Avoid clothes and accessories that cause friction against your neck skin.
Is It Safe To Pop A Pimple On Your Neck?
You may be inclined to pop a pimple on your neck due to temptation or because you think it could help you eliminate the spot. However, this practice is never advisable as it can cause scarring. Furthermore, popping a pimple may introduce bacteria from your hands to the affected area, potentially infecting the region and increasing the risk of more breakouts.
Pimples on the neck can be as much of a nuisance as they are on the face or any other body area. Not only are they painful, but they may also affect your overall aesthetics. Makeup and other cosmetic solutions may help conceal these spots but are not long-term solutions. Effective skin care and timely treatment are the only options to keep your neck and facial skin healthy and spotless. Following the treatment and prevention steps described above may help you manage and prevent neck acne.