Hard Clogged Pores on the Back & Shoulders

Clogged pores can develop on the back and shoulders.

Photo: Edgardo Contreras/Photodisc/Getty Images

Hard, clogged pores on the back and shoulders are a lot like the hard, clogged pores that can develop on your face. They’re often the result of dead skin and excess oil building up in your pores. Many of the measures used to prevent and treat the blemishes affecting your complexion can also improve those wreaking havoc on other areas of the body.

Clogged Pores

Clogged pores often develop when excess sebum — the oily substances that keeps your skin moist — causes dead skin cells to clump together in your pores. Over time, the sebum and skin cells form what’s known as a soft plug. This plug clogs the pore and even traps bacteria in the follicle. As bacteria multiplies, the surrounding skin begins to redden and inflame, leading to an acne lesion.

Self-Care Measures

As with the skin on your face, good hygiene goes a long way to controlling breakouts on your back and shoulders. Washing the area with a gentle cleanser is the first step, but avoid astringents and scrubs. These products can irritate your skin, which may worsen your lesions. After washing, apply a light layer of over-the-counter acne cream to help dry any excess oil and slough dead skin from the shoulders and back. Stick with acne creams containing either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. You may also benefit from a topical preparation containing alpha hydroxy acid.

Medical Treatments

If self-care measures fail to improve the hard, clogged pores, don’t resort to picking or popping these blemishes. This may lead to an infection, and the pressure may also damage the underlying layers of your skin and result in scarring. Instead, make an appointment with a dermatologist. He can take a look at your back and shoulders and make an informed recommendation of what might work best for you. A prescription acne cream can do wonders for improving active lesions on the back and shoulders. You may also benefit from antibiotics, oral contraceptives or laser therapy.


While there’s no surefire way of preventing clogged pores, you can take steps to reduce a potential breakout. With the back and shoulders, start off by taking a long, hard look at your wardrobe. If you’re more apt to wear tightfitting clothing, keep them hanging in your closet for a while. This type of apparel can trap heat and moisture next to your skin, leading to irritation and eventually the formation of clogged pores. Take a shower and wash your clothes after each workout. Sweat can leave excess oil and bacteria on your skin, making a breakout much more likely.

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