Pimples have a way of popping up at inconvenient times and in inconvenient places — like your butt. And if you've been plagued by butt acne, then you know just how frustrating, itchy, sore, and downright uncomfortable it can be.
But because butt acne doesn't come up in everyday convo as much as pimples on your chin do, you might not actually know how to tackle it. That's why we asked a dermatologist to weigh in on how to get rid of butt acne — and what you can do to prevent but acne from happening in the first place.
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What Causes Butt Acne (or Folliculitis)?
For starters, those breakouts on your butt might not actually be true acne, according to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Zeichner explains that bumps on your bum are typically folliculitis, a superficial infection of the hair follicle.
"When the skin barrier becomes disrupted, bacteria can penetrate into the hair follicle causing a mild infection," he explains.
There are several culprits of a disrupted skin barrier that could be behind your butt acne (err ... folliculitis). Wearing tight clothing — like your go-to workout leggings — and skin chafing are two of them, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). When your skin is damp and hot, it’s easier for hair follicles to become damaged and infected, the ADA notes, which is why many notice butt acne after a sweaty workout.
A few more culprits to note are shaving, plucking, and waxing, as well as hanging out in hot tubs that are not properly maintained (aka "hot tub folliculitis"). If a hot tub is the cause of your "butt acne", then the AAD says you'll notice a breakout within 12 to 48 hours after taking a dip.
When it comes to "real" acne — aka bumps caused by clogged pores rather than an inflamed hair follicle — the cause might be less clear. As with breakouts on your face, hormones, the environment, and your diet can all play a role in whether or not you are affected by butt acne. (FYI, there's one way to tell the red and inflamed bumps apart: Folliculitis is described as itchy, whereas typical acne usually isn't.)
How to Get Rid of Butt Acne
The good news? The same ingredients that you use to treat facial acne can pull double duty for butt acne, according to Dr. Zeichner. Popular treatments include products with salicylic acid (which helps to dry out pimples) and benzoyl peroxide (which lowers levels of acne-causing bacteria). Dr. Zeichner favors St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Face Scrub, which contains salicylic acid and green tea to calm redness, or Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser, which contains 10 percent benzoyl peroxide.
When it comes to folliculitis, these breakouts will usually go away on their own, according to the AAD, but you can apply a warm compress to soothe the area in the meantime.
How to Prevent Butt Acne
If you've just finished a workout or have simply been moving a lot on a hot and humid day, you'll want to remove your sweaty leggings and underwear, and shower as soon as possible, Dr. Zeichner says.
A few more ways to prevent breakouts from popping up: Choose loose, breathable clothing and wash your bathing suit after each use to help prevent butt breakouts of all kinds.
Like acne on your face, you'll also want to avoid picking at butt acne or scrubbing it with an abrasive cleanser, which will only cause further inflammation. Instead, try a butt mask or cleanser that is designed with your booty in mind.