The good news for those who are vexed by pimples on the back of the arms is that it's more common than you think and 90 percent of the time, the unsightly bumps are easy and inexpensive to combat.
Dry Skin and Arm Pimples
By far the largest cause of pimples on the back of the arms is simply dry skin. While elbows get lots of attention with exfoliation and moisturizing, the upper arms do not. Only in summer, when they're more likely to be moisturized with sunscreen, are they given any care. The skin on the upper arms is prone to collect dead cells, which in turn clog the follicles, thus leading to the little bumps. These bumps are not really acne, although they are acne-related.
Treating Back of Arm Pimples
If you have pimples on the back of the arms, the first thing you should try is scrubbing with a loofah, either before or during your shower, followed by liberal moisturizing. Since the pimples are usually brought on by a build-up of dead skin, simply exfoliating and then treating the skin is all that's needed.
If your pimples are especially bad, you might want to try a stronger moisturizer. Amlactin 12% moisturizing cream is recommended by dermatologists for just this problem. Some pharmacists might dispense it without a prescription, but if you need to get a prescription, your doctor should be able to provide it without an appointment. This heavy-duty moisturizer is ideal for severely dry skin. Users report that it goes on like liquid silk and makes your skin feel heavenly. It can take two weeks to see serious improvement, but steady treatment and patience will get your arms back in sleeveless shape.
Sometimes when a problem is unsightly and stubborn, you become impatient and over-scrub. Be gentle with your loofah and use circular motions, rather than scrubbing up and down. If the skin is still irritated, leave the loofah for a few days and just use an alpha-hydroxy based lotion instead. If you're really inflamed, a one percent cortisone cream will help, but try the lotions first.
Other Causes of Arm Bumps
Pimples on the back of the arms can also be caused by keratosis pilaris, a hereditary condition wherein keratin gathers on the skin. This is absolutely harmless and responds to the same treatment as dry skin - exfoliation and moisturizer. If this is the cause, however, you do need to be more assiduous about taking care of your arms to avoid further breakouts. Some people with keratosis pilaris suggest using a glycolic acid for exfoliation. If you do, be especially sure to follow with a good moisturizer, as glycolics, though effective, can be very drying. Pimples on the back of the arms can also be brought on by hormonal shifts, which is why they can be so common in women of childbearing years. When hormones are determined to be the cause, a doctor might prescribe Metrogel, which must be applied two times a day and can take as long as three weeks before it begins to be effective, but then it will get the problem under control. Some people find that using the Metrogel in conjunction with Amlactin 12% produces even nicer results.
Other times, the pimples will be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. Since tanning is not healthy, try upping your intake of vitamin D either in supplement or food form before exposing your arms to a little more sun. Fortified milk, cod liver oil and fish such as mackerel and sardines all contain vitamin D.
Other Treatments for Arm Pimples
Besides the above, people have found some other cheap and effective treatments for pimples on the back of the arms. Clearasil Vanishing Cream is reported to be fast and effective when used twice a day. Flaxseed oil is also effective and provides a number of other health benefits, as it moisturizes your skin from the inside. Remember, the better you treat your skin, inside and out, the better it will look and feel!