When the weather starts to heat up, for some of us, that means low necklines, even lower backs, and shorter shorts. But for some people, showing that much skin can be a bit stressful if you're prone to body breakouts — especially if you're the type to get a bit of acne on your booty. It may sound embarrassing (it shouldn't be), but just know you're not alone.
So, if you're looking for a way to avoid the kind of lumps Fergie wasn't talking about, we've got you. We spoke to New York City–based cosmetic dermatologists to learn how to handle those pesky bumps.
What is butt acne?
Most importantly you should know that, typically, breakouts on your butt aren't actually acne. "Butt acne is not truly acne — it is, in fact, most often due to inflammation around hair follicles known as folliculitis, or an irritation secondary to chronic rubbing, which can come with wearing tight-fitting clothes or even waxing," says Shereene Idriss, a board-certified dermatologist at the Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City.
An easy way to tell if it's folliculitis, which is truly an infection of the hair follicule, is how it feels, along with its placement on the body, says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. These bumps usually appear as small, shallow lumps, which tend to be itchy or painful. When irritated, they can be develop into larger, cyst-like clusters.
How do you treat butt breakouts?
First and foremost, clean up the area. "Washing regularly with benzoyl peroxide (like the Murad Clarifying Cleanser, which is formulated with breakout-busting salicylic acid and green tea to soothe), helps keep pesky bacteria at bay, decreasing your chances of developing a bacterial folliculitis," says Idriss. "Folliculitis, however, is not always due to bacteria alone; it can also be caused by a fungus."
What shouldn't you do when treating them?
Physically exfoliating the inflamed area is a no-no, says Idriss. "Please stop scrubbing, whether with a scrub or a loofah," she tells Allure. "People often think they are doing themselves a favor by doing this because it makes their rear end feel — key word — smoother. In reality, they are just worsening the inflammation, which could lead to potential scarring and hyperpigmentation."
Your SoulCycle sweat sessions aren't helping either, says Idriss. "A sweaty environment and chronic rubbing due to cycling is a recipe for disaster," she says. After a workout, be sure to hop out of your drenched duds, wipe yourself off, and change into a more breathable outfit.
"Waxing should also be avoided as it can lead to further obstruction of hair follicles, worsening of inflammation, and subsequent pigmentation," says Idriss. Instead, consider investing in a more durable razor or consider another form of hair removal, like sugaring.
What can you do to ensure that you don't get hyperpigmentation on your behind?
Once you stop scrubbing, you reduce the risk of developing dark spots. "Hyperpigmentation can be avoided with less manipulation and more therapeutic treatment," she says. That being said, be sure to moisturize your backside with gentle cream exfoliators with lactic acid, such as AmLactin, or urea-based creams.
How can you prevent a butt breakout?
If you're prone to irritations, regular use of gentle exfoliators, such as salicylic acid or lactic acid, helps keep your skin surface smooth and avoids buildups. In general, if you are prone to sweating, keep your tush clean and dry — and if you do get folliculitis, don't wait to get it treated." (We love the salicylic-acid-spiked Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment Acne). If all else fails, speak with your dermatologist who can better find a treatment for your specific breakout concern.
More stories on combatting breakouts:
- Why That One Blackhead Keeps Popping Up in the Same Spot
- 4 Easy Ways to Clear Cystic Acne — No Popping Required
- How to Get Rid of Bacne — For Good
Now learn about 100 years of skin-care history: