Oh No, I Have Acne On My Butt!
Acne and pimples are a part of everyone's life at some point—whether when awkwardly navigating puberty or experiencing dermatological issues as an adult. You'll find them on your face, your shoulders and even on your back. And, yes, your butt.
There's very little difference between butt acne and acne that occurs on other parts of the body: Wherever you have pores, they can get clogged, which is how acne happens.
But why my butt?
"The cause of acne is when a pore or hair follicle becomes trapped with sebum, an oily, waxy substance that is secreted through our sebaceous glands/pores and cellular debris—think dead skin cells," said Joscelyn Corporan, a medical esthetician working in Manhattan, New York City. "Our bodies also host microscopic bacteria that dwell both inside and outside of us, including our skin."
Propionibacterium acnes—or P. acnes—love to feed on clogged pores. In turn, the area becomes inflamed into what you recognize as acne. Butt acne can occur from wearing tight clothing that restricts airflow and causes sweat, and the buildup of dead skin cells on the body due to a lack of exfoliation.
The material of our underwear and clothes can also contribute to the development of butt acne. Even if you don't sweat a lot, non-breathable materials such as nylon and polyester can hold moisture against the skin and irritate hair follicles. You might even develop hot tub folliculitis from using a poorly maintained hot tub or pool.
Some people are prone to body acne if they have overactive sebaceous glands. This condition can be exacerbated if you don't pay enough attention to exfoliating your entire body, including areas like the buttocks, which are important to exfoliate because there can be an over-proliferation of dead skin cells there.
It's not quite acne, but keratosis pilaris, which causes a fine, rough texture, might be the culprit of your butt bump woes. It also commonly develops on the backs of the upper arms and fronts of the thighs.
When a hair follicle is infected, a skin abscess or boil can develop. Staphylococcus bacteria is one common cause of boils on the rear.
How to treat butt acne
"I recommend frequent exfoliation two to three times a week," Corporan said. "Products that work really well for acne are alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids like azelaic acid, which is great for treating sensitive red skin, and salicylic acid, which assists in unclogging clogged sebaceous glands."
Here are some tips for preventing and managing butt acne:
- Avoid wearing restrictive clothing.
- Shower after working out to avoid sweat buildup.
- Wear breathable material on your derriere, such as cotton underwear and loose pants or shorts.
- Exfoliate using a salicylic acid- or benzoyl peroxide-based product. This keeps hair follicles from becoming blocked and also helps speed up cell turnover. Good exfoliating creams contain glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid. Prescription creams containing tretinoin—a synthetic form of vitamin A—can be used in more severe cases.
- Use a salicylic acid- or benzoyl peroxide-based body cleanser. This works best for inflamed bumps like folliculitis. Many over-the-counter options are available.
How bad it can get
Getting body treatments such as body facials and body peels will help with getting rid of acne—seek out a licensed esthetician to do this, as they will know the best products and applications for the best effect. But even this can only go so far.
"Some estheticians can treat the butt," said Genevieve Santos-Bann, a medical esthetician on Long Island, New York. "However, it needs to be checked by a doctor if it becomes cystic and painful to decrease the chance of infection."
If you're someone who consistently ruptures their skin in an effort to "pop" or get rid of acne, know that you are at risk of scarring your skin and introducing infection. Make sure to see a licensed professional for proper treatments if required, and keep your primary care doctor in the loop with any decisions you make.