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Have you ever noticed breakouts where your bra touches your skin? This is common, but can be an uncomfortable side-effect of a dirty bra. An article by Verywell Health describes this type of acne as “acne mechanica.”

Acne mechanica is a “type of acne triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction or rubbing of the skin…These things trap and hold heat and sweat against the skin, and can cause a blockage in the hair follicle (AKA the pore). With continued rubbing, the pores get irritated and those tiny blemishes morph into larger, red pimples.”

So, those breakouts around your bra could totally be caused by your bra. If you do experience acne from your bra, it’s likely on the skin touched by your bra straps, bra band or bra cups. Every time you wear your bra, sweat and body oils rub off onto the materials. Those oils can irritate your skin as they accumulate, especially as your bra continues to rub and heat up against your body.

You’re not stuck with these breakouts if you’re experiencing them. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent this type of acne if caused by your bras.

How to Prevent Bras from Causing Breakouts

According to the same article by Verywell Health, if you’re prone to acne, you’re likely more prone to acne mechanica caused by your bra. Here are some ways you can treat and prevent these types of breakouts:

Consider over-the-counter medications

You could use over-the-counter medications, such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide treatments, to treat the breakouts. A face or body wash with either of these ingredients will be helpful at clearing up the breakout. (I’m personally prone to back acne and use a facial cleanser with salicylic acid on my back to keep the acne away.)

Your skin may become irritated while acclimating to one of these treatments. It’s a good idea to start using the product only a few times a week to prevent dry skin. Also, keep in mind that benzoyl peroxide will bleach out fabric. So, wait until the product is dry before getting dressed or allowing your skin to touch fabrics, such as your bed sheets.

Related: How Often Should You Change Your Bra?

Rotate your bras

Rotating your bras ensures you don’t over-wear any bra. Wearing the same bra each day allows oils and bacteria to quickly build-up on the bra’s material. If you continue to wear the bra that has excess oils on it, you can expect breakouts and skin irritations. Have a few go-to bras in your rotation so each gets equal wear. (Of course, if you sweat a lot in one bra during one wear, you’ll want to wash it instead of re-wearing in the rotation.)

Wash your skin well

Clean skin is an essential element of clearer skin. When you cleanse your skin, you remove excess dirt, oil and debris. According to the staff at West Lake Dermatology, your skin naturally produces sebum that penetrates through the hair follicle to protect the skin. However, unclean skin allows bacteria and oil to block the follicle, which can cause a breakout.

Don’t be afraid to gently wash the affected areas. Keeping those areas clean helps remove debris so the skin can clear-up.

Wash your bras properly

It’s important to wash your bras every few wears to remove the dirt and oil from them. And, when you’re properly rotating your bras, your skin isn’t exposed to a dirty bra. (Check out this article for a complete run-down on how to appropriately launder your bras.)

A breakout from your bra is something every woman may experience. Quickly addressing a breakout at its first sign will cause less discomfort and annoyance.

If your skin doesn’t clear up soon with over-the-counter medications and proper skin and bra cleaning, do consult your doctor. It’s also never a bad choice to seek your doctor’s advice when you first notice the breakout to ensure it’s not something more serious than bra-caused acne.

Related: How To Wash Bras

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Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be medical advice and it is not meant to be a substitute for a professional’s opinion. Be sure to consult your doctor before making any changes to your skincare routine.
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Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is the founder of, a lifestyle and relationship blog offering relationship advice and encouraging women to be the happiest, most confident version of themselves through positivity and self-love. She's also a freelance writer and communications strategist. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, and check out some of her accomplishments on her portfolio.

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