Acne on Arms & Legs

by Lisa Finn ; Updated July 18, 2017

Woman in the shower scrubbing her arm

gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

When people think of acne, the first image that comes to mind is usually the face. However, acne, pimples, blackheads and whiteheads can appear anywhere -- and often on the arms and legs. The best way to keep your arms and legs free from acne is to cleanse with an oil-free acne wash and then apply over-the-counter or prescription medication in affected areas.

What Is It, Really?

Acne on your arms and legs can be in the form of small papules or pus-filled bumps. It occurs when oil, skin cells and hair mix in a follicle, become infected and block the pore. This can show up as a whitehead or blackhead -- the difference is that blackheads are exposed to air at one point. Keratosis pilaris are arm bumps that are often mistaken for acne, as is pseudofolliculitis barbae, bumps caused by ingrown hairs from shaving. Both look similar to acne but require different treatment.

Keep on Cleansing

Wash daily with an oil-free, acne cleanser made especially for the body. A few times a week, replace this cleanser with an exfoliant featuring salicylic acid. This helps unclog arm and leg pores and sloughs off dead skin cells. After you pat your skin dry with a towel, pour astringent on a cotton pad and swipe over the affected arm and leg areas. An astringent with alpha hydroxy acids sops up oil, unclogs pores and prepares the skin for acne medication.

Turn to Treatment

Smooth the affected area with a thin layer of 2.5- to 10-percent benzoyl peroxide after every wash. You can also use acne treatments containing sulfur and retinol -- two ingredients that suppress bacteria, unclog pores and brighten the skin. Keep lightweight, cotton sheets on your bed and change them every few days so the dirt and oil from your body doesn't come in contact with your arms and legs as you sleep.

Photo Credits

  • gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.