What Should You Do About Stubborn Acne On Your Neck?

You're ready to go out, strappy top on, when you notice a pimple in a place you can't easily hide: your neck. While you might be blessed with mostly small or mild acne spots on your face, neck acne tends to be big, red, and painful, as dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Howe noted to Marie Claire. He explained that hormonal acne is a common culprit for these large, deep bumps.

But just like acne on other parts of your body, spots on the neck can have a range of possible causes. Hair products, dirty or irritating clothing, and even necklaces may trigger breakouts in this particular area, per Medical News Today. Other explanations for acne in this region can be the same as in other areas of the body, such as being under stress or taking certain medications.

Given the long list of potential causes, tackling neck acne can be a challenge — especially when these lumps and bumps linger for days (or even longer). Here's what you can do at home to get rid of stubborn spots on your neck and when to see a doctor for additional help. 

How to get rid of neck acne at home

Much like any other type of acne, prevention is key. If you find that certain habits, such as exercising, tend to coincide with neck breakouts, adjust accordingly. Wash gym clothes after each wear, and cleanse your neck after sweating. Additionally, Healthline suggests trying different beauty products, shampooing your hair more often, gently washing the neck when showering, and avoiding clothing and other accessories or equipment that create friction in the area.

If it feels like you've tried everything to prevent neck acne and it keeps popping up, over-the-counter remedies can often help keep breakouts under control. Skin expert Heidi Waldorf, MD, told Byrdie, "Treat neck acne the same way as acne on the face" by opting for skin-care products containing "salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide." Likewise, if you apply foundation and other makeup to your neck, be sure to use a makeup remover just as you would on your face.

Derm Collective also suggests natural anti-inflammatory remedies such as tea tree oil and witch hazel, both of which act as an astringent on the skin. Clay masks can also be applied to the neck to help draw out and dry up pesky blemishes. No matter which remedies you try, though, remember to always avoid popping these pimples. Squeezing at neck acne will only make it worse and could cause new bumps to form. 

Medical treatments for neck acne

When at-home treatments aren't enough to banish tough neck acne, it might be time to see a dermatologist. Specifically, acne that is severe, painful, and lasts for more than a few weeks warrants a trip to the doctor, according to Medical News Today. Your dermatologist or medical practitioner may suggest chemical peels, professional extractions, microdermabrasion, or laser therapy treatments that target stubborn breakouts. 

A doctor may also prescribe a medication that helps clear acne. If your neck acne crops up around your hairline, it might actually be folliculitis, a condition where the hair follicles become inflamed, per Byrdie. Whether your bumps are folliculitis or acne, a dermatologist may recommend laser hair removal if spots only appear around the hair. Removing the hair on the neck prevents ingrown hairs and closes the pores, halting future breakouts.

Whichever way you look at it, neck acne is nothing to freak out about. There are plenty of treatment options available to combat it, but the most important thing to remember is don't pick because creating more friction in the area is only going to make things worse in the long run.