How To Get Rid of Butt Acne

If you have what looks like butt acne—pimple-like bumps on your rear end—rest assured such breakouts are not the same as the acne vulgaris that appears on the face and upper body. What you're dealing with is likely one of three common skin conditions:

  • Folliculitis, an inflammation of hair follicles that may or may not be uncomfortable, but that can become infected by organisms that live on the skin, such as the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, yeasts, or fungi
  • Contact dermatitis, an allergic skin rash that may be a reaction to an irritant such as scented laundry supplies or preservatives in flushable wipes.
  • Keratosis pilaris, caused by a buildup of keratin around the pore opening
Fashionable woman wearing jacket with sports clothing against clear sky
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Regardless of the cause, there are multiple effective ways to deal with "butt acne" at home.

Related: What Causes Pimples on the Butt?

1

Loosen Your Clothing

Yoga pants, jeggings, skin-tight jeans, and other close-fitting bottoms can trap moisture against the skin and trigger folliculitis. Limit how often you wear tight bottoms or for how long you wear them—for example, change out of sweaty yoga pants as soon as you can after your hot yoga class.

Polyester, nylon, and silk underwear also can contribute to a buildup of moisture, so even if you're wearing a skirt or loose shorts made of cotton you may be setting yourself up for folliculitis in hot, humid conditions. Opt for cotton or moisture-wicking athletic underwear instead.

2

Shower ASAP After Exercise

Sweat that gets trapped against the skin and then dries can be highly irritating to hair follicles and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Try to schedule workouts and other physical activities so that you can get in a shower immediately after. Don't stop by the grocery store or the library until you've lathered up and changed clothes.

Biking, rowing, spin classes, and other activities that are performed while sitting can create friction on the skin of the buttocks that may exacerbate butt acne. In these cases, it may be best to switch to an alternative activity until the breakout heals.

3

Steer Clear of Allergens

For people who are sensitive or allergic to them, certain perfumes and other chemicals in laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and flushable wipes can trigger a rash on the buttocks. For example, studies have found that a common preservative in cosmetics used in flushable wipes, methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI), is associated with allergic contact dermatitis. If you suspect your butt acne may be a product of such a reaction to a laundry or personal hygiene product, switch to a hypoallergenic version.

4

Be Gentle on Your Skin

Just as acne can't be scrubbed away, folliculitis needs to be treated gently. It can be helpful, however, to gently exfoliate affected skin as long as it isn't inflamed or painful. Do not use loofahs, stiff-bristled body brushes, or other abrasive products; opt for a soft cloth or nylon body pouf.

Never pop or pick at pimples, and if butt acne extends to areas you typically remove hair from, forgo waxing or shaving until your skin heals.

5

Apply a Warm Compress

Warm moisture can soothe irritation and help release pus from whiteheads. Press a warm washcloth to your bottom or sit on it for 15 minutes at a time at least three times a day.

Dip the washcloth in a salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup water) may be especially soothing, as may soaking in a warm bath or a saltwater sitz bath.

Research suggests apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties. Add few drops to your washcloth or a cup to your bath to help reduce staph bacteria that can cause infections and worsen breakouts. Thoroughly towel or air dry before dressing.

Soaking in a warm salt water bath may be soothing to inflamed skin, but hanging out in a hot tub could lead to a type of folliculitis called  hot tub folliculitis that can arise from spending time in an improperly maintained hot tub or pool.

6

Use a Benzoyl Peroxide Wash or Gel

Although "butt acne" isn't typical acne vulgaris, some treatments for facial acne also work on mild butt breakouts—meaning small fine bumps or a smattering of inflamed pimples.

Benzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient in acne medications, is an antimicrobial to help clean pores and has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe mild swelling. Look for a body wash, bar soap, or cream or gel spot treatment made with 5 to 10% benzoyl peroxide. Because it can bleach out fabrics, use white towels and wear white underwear when using benzoyl peroxide products on skin.

7

Try Tea Tree Oil

Some studies suggest this natural remedy, which comes from a tree native to Australia and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, may be as effective in treating breakouts as benzoyl peroxide (although it may not work as quickly). One study that compared 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion with 5% tea tree oil gel to treat acne found that each significantly reduced the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions. The researchers found that tea tree oil took longer to work yet it was also gentler on the skin and had fewer side effects, such as dry or itchy skin, than the benzoyl peroxide.

Look for a 5 to 10% tea tree oil wash or gel spot treatment or put a couple drops of the essential oil into a body wash or oil-free moisturizer.

8

Use Salicylic Acid Medicated Pads

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that helps skin shed cells more effectively. Pre-treated salicylic acid pads are ideal for dabbing this medication onto affected areas, keeping well away from genitals. It's OK to use those formulated for the face on other areas of the body, such as Stridex, Oxy, and Neutrogena.

For treating butt acne, you'll get better results with a 2% salicylic acid than you would with a lower percentage.

Salicylic acid pads can be used along with benzoyl peroxide. If skin becomes irritated or overly dry, scale back use to either one or the other.

9

Apply a Lactic Acid Lotion

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that, like salicylic acid, helps to loosen and slough away dead skin cells. It can be found in body lotions such as U-Lactin and AmLactin.

Applied daily, it can help smooth rough, bumpy skin on all parts of the bodyand can used along with benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, or salicylic acid. Apply the lotion after the salicylic acid medication has completely dried or, perhaps even more effective, use a salicylic acid or tea tree oil product in the morning and lactic acid at night.

10

When to See Your Doctor

You should be able to take care of mild breakouts, and even the occasional inflamed pimples, yourself. But if you don't see an improvement after 10 to 12 weeks of good home treatment, have your dermatologist take a look.

If your butt acne is very inflamed or severe, if the bumps are large, pus-filled, or very tender, call your physician right away. The hair follicles may be infected, in which case you'll need a stronger prescription treatment.

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