Butt Rashes: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Rashes are uncomfortable, no matter where they occur. But there can be something incredibly upsetting about discovering a new butt rash.

It’s common to put off treating rashes that appear on your bottom due to embarrassment. Fortunately, there are plenty of common reasons and simple treatments for skin rashes that appear on the buttocks. 

Skin irritation or infection can lead to an itchy rash, and scratching the itch can worsen the irritation. However, you can safely treat many butt rashes at home with over-the-counter (OTC) medications or home remedies. And if you do need to see your healthcare provider, try not to worry; they have seen it all before. 

This article explains the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of butt rashes.

woman holding her butt

Rattankun Thongbun / Getty Images

Common Causes

The most common causes of butt rash usually involve skin irritation. Sometimes a tiny cut, new laundry detergent, moisture, sitting, or sweating can irritate the skin. From there, scratching can lead to redness and more itching. 

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes in contact with a substance that irritates it and causes symptoms like redness, itching, or burning. Substances that could cause a rash on your butt include:

  • Soaps
  • Shower gels
  • Lotion
  • Laundry detergent
  • New underwear

Contact dermatitis can also occur if you are allergic to a substance. This kind of skin irritation is called allergic contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis usually causes intense itching, a red rash, and dry skin. You may also experience burning, stinging, hives, or blisters. Scratching often makes the symptoms more severe. The best way to heal a rash from contact dermatitis is to determine which substance irritates your skin and remove it from your routine. In the meantime, do your best to avoid scratching.

Home remedies, like a cool compress or oatmeal bath, may feel soothing to your skin and calm the redness and itching. An OTC hydrocortisone cream could also provide some much-needed relief. 

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) 

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition that causes inflammation in the skin. The most common symptom is a red, itchy, inflamed rash. It’s also possible to experience cracked skin that “weeps” clear liquid.

Experts believe genetic and environmental factors cause eczema. Doctors usually treat it with moisturizers or topical steroids. Eczema is not contagious. If you tend to experience hay fever or asthma, you may be more at risk of developing an eczema rash on your skin.

The treatment for eczema is similar to that for contact dermatitis. Avoid any irritants and ease the pain and itching with cool compresses and hydrocortisone cream.

If you don’t notice any improvement after trying home remedies, see a dermatologist or healthcare provider. 

Yeast Infection

A yeast infection occurs when Candida grows at an out-of-control rate and causes an infection. This yeast usually lives on the skin and body without causing any issues. However, it can lead to an itchy, uncomfortable infection when it starts to overgrow.

Yeast thrives in warm, moist places like skin folds. So it’s not uncommon to experience a yeast infection near or around the anus. In addition, the heat and moisture that can generate around the anus make it an ideal environment for yeast overgrowth.

An estimated 40% of cases of anal itching can be attributed to a yeast infection. 

Common yeast infection symptoms include redness and itching. This infection requires treatment with an antifungal medication.

See your healthcare provider if you believe that you’ve developed a yeast infection on your butt. Your practitioner will be able to diagnose your condition and prescribe the proper antifungal treatment. 

Folliculitis (Butt Acne)

Folliculitis is a common skin infection that appears as pimple-like sores on the skin. If you have noticed acne on your butt that is not itchy, it could be folliculitis.

Folliculitis refers to an infection of the hair follicles. Once grease or dirt enters the follicle, an acne-like breakout occurs.

Acute folliculitis usually comes on quickly after the hair follicles have been damaged. If the skin is damp and hot, such as the skin around the anus, an infection can occur. Possible causes include:

  • Shaving
  • Rubbing the skin
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • Skin folds rubbing together

If you have recently developed acne on your butt, think about the activities you did before it occurred. For example, spending time in a hot tub or biking on a hot day can damage hair follicles and encourage bacteria growth. As a result, folliculitis may be itchy and slightly painful. 

Fortunately, most cases of folliculitis go away on their own when you have a healthy immune system. Even so, using a warm compress a few times per day could help provide some relief and allow the hair follicles to soften. Once folliculitis on the butt clears up, avoid shaving that area for at least a month.

To help prevent folliculitis on the butt, avoid tight underwear and clothing, especially when it is hot and humid out. If you choose to shave that area, use a quality moisturizing shaving cream and shave with the grain to avoid damaging the hair follicles. 

Ringworm 

Another fungal infection that can cause a butt rash is tinea cruris, also known as ringworm. Jock itch is a common infection caused by ringworm. Because this fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, the groin area is a common site of an infection.

A fungal infection around the anus can cause both itching and pain. The rash is usually red and raised in the shape of a circle or ring.

It’s more common to experience ringworm in warm weather when sweat and moisture are more likely to get trapped in the skin folds. You can often treat ringworm at home with OTC antifungal creams.

If you don’t notice any relief after using the cream as directed, see your healthcare provider for testing and treatment. 

Heat Rash

If your butt rash came on after spending the day outdoors in the heat and humidity, you might have miliaria (heat rash). Heat rash is common in the groin area, including the buttocks. It looks like clusters of bright red pimples or small blisters. Heat rash forms in areas of the body that can trap heat and moisture. 

Tips for treating heat rash include:

  • Moving indoors or to a cooler area
  • Changing out of sweaty clothes
  • Keeping the site clean and dry
  • Applying a small amount of powder to help with the itching
  • Steering clear of any lotions or ointments

Heat rash usually resolves on its own. However, if you begin to experience other symptoms of heat exhaustion like muscle cramps, exhaustion, nausea, or dizziness, move to a cooler area right away to rest and rehydrate. 

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. Many people with herpes have no symptoms, while others experience outbreaks with open sores. 

Herpes lesions usually appear as blisters on the lower back or buttocks and around the anus. Blisters may also present around the mouth or genitals. When the blisters break, they leave open, painful sores.

Herpes is contagious, especially when someone has open blisters. Only a healthcare provider can diagnose herpes. While there is no cure, the condition is manageable. 

Hemorrhoids

People sometimes mistake hemorrhoids as a rash on the butt. However, this common condition is not a rash but swollen veins, similar to varicose veins.

Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum, and you cannot see them from outside the body. On the other hand, external hemorrhoids appear around the anus and may feel like a rash. 

Hemorrhoids can cause intense itching and pain, discomfort, and bleeding. They are often the result of straining to have a bowel movement.

Preventing constipation can reduce the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids. Prevention strategies include:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Getting enough fiber in your diet
  • Getting plenty of physical activity

Pinworm

Pinworm is a parasitic infection caused by the roundworm Enterobius vermicularis. While it can affect anyone, pinworm is more common in young children, people who live in institutional settings, and anyone who lives with someone with pinworm infection. 

Pinworm causes mild itching in and around the anus, and some people have no symptoms at all. However, when the worm lays eggs in the skin, it causes itching.

As awful as pinworm sounds, it is relatively easy to treat. Your healthcare provider will usually prescribe mebendazole, pyrantel pamoate, or albendazole to kill the pinworm and prevent future infections. 

To diagnose pinworm, your healthcare provider will most likely use a piece of transparent tape to take a sample from around the anus. They will then examine the tape for evidence of pinworm eggs under a microscope. 

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that occurs when the body makes new skin cells too quickly. Rather than sloughing off like normal, old skin cells accumulate and form dry, itchy patches on the skin. It is possible to experience psoriasis patches on the butt or groin area. 

The most common type of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, presents as thick, raised patches of dry skin. The patches are usually itchy and get worse with scratching.

If you suspect that you are experiencing psoriasis, see a dermatologist or healthcare provider. They will help determine the correct diagnosis and prescribe treatment. The first line of treatment usually involves a steroid ointment, with stronger options available if needed.

Recap

Many things can cause butt rash, including allergies, sensitivities, fungal and parasitic infections, acne, heat, herpes, and hemorrhoids. You can treat some of these conditions at home, but others require a trip to the doctor for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Less Common Causes

While most cases of butt rash are common and easily treated, others are a bit more complex. The less common causes require a visit to a healthcare provider and prescription treatment. 

Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris, sometimes referred to as “chicken skin,” is a benign skin condition that causes tiny, red bumps on the skin. These little bumps are plugs of dead skin cells and are usually dry and itchy. Keratosis pilaris is harmless and usually resolves on its own. 

To treat keratosis pilaris, gently exfoliate your skin in the shower and then regularly apply a quality moisturizer to prevent dry skin. If self-care at home is not showing any results, see a healthcare provider or dermatologist. 

Intertrigo

Intertrigo is dermatitis caused by the skin rubbing against itself, leading to moisture and friction. Symptoms include inflammation, redness, and scaling.

This condition may occur near the anus or between the buttocks and backs of thighs. Once the skin is irritated, a bacterial or fungal infection could occur. 

See your healthcare provider if you’re concerned that you could be experiencing intertrigo. Treatment will depend on the extent of the skin irritation and the type of infection. 

Shingles

The herpes zoster virus causes shingles. It leads to a painful rash on one side of the body or face. Most people with shingles first notice pain, numbness, and tingling before the rash presents.

The shingles rash causes blisters that usually scab over in about seven to 10 days and clear up within four weeks. Other shingles symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach

See your healthcare provider to determine if you have shingles and start treatment. To provide some relief from the rash, try the following:

  • OTC pain medicines
  • Cold compresses
  • Oatmeal baths
  • Calamine lotion

A healthcare provider may also prescribe an antiviral medication to shorten its duration. 

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic condition that occurs most frequently in post-menopausal people. This rare disease causes thin, white skin patches around the genitals and anus. Other symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. These patches of skin may tear or bleed as well.

Lichen sclerosus can also lead to painful sex, urinary retention, and constipation. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing lichen sclerosus, see a healthcare provider right away. They will likely start corticosteroid therapy and monitor your condition closely. 

Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is a rare type of blood cancer that first presents as a rash on body areas that don’t get much sunlight. Diagnosing it can be tricky since the rash resembles eczema.

The red rash is usually itchy at first. Over time, one will develop flat patches of dry skin, followed by red, raised, itchy patches. As cancer spreads, the patches of skin may turn into raised plaques and tumors that split open and look like sores. 

If you have been treating a rash that looks like eczema that isn’t improving, see your dermatologist or healthcare provider. 

Recap

Less common causes of butt rash include keratosis pilaris, friction, viral infections, cancer, and lichen sclerosus. If you suspect any of these conditions, it's best to check in with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Home Remedies

The first step in treating a rash at home is also the hardest: stop scratching. Easier said than done is an understatement, but scratching further irritates the skin and causes the rash to become more intense.

Choose home remedies that help soothe the itch, including:

In addition:

  • Keep the area clean and dry
  • Use a soft toilet paper
  • Avoid rubbing too vigorously or scrubbing in the shower
  • Gently pat the rash dry after a shower
  • Wear loose cotton underwear

If you’re concerned that you have been experiencing hemorrhoids, incorporate more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet. You might also consider a fiber supplement to prevent constipation and straining. 

To help prevent skin irritation:

  • Use gentle soaps and lotions
  • Avoid artificial dyes or scents
  • Wash new clothes and underwear before wearing them
  • Opt for a mild laundry detergent made for sensitive skin

When to See a Healthcare Provider

You can treat many butt rashes at home. However, contact a doctor if home remedies are not improving after a few weeks or if you develop rectal bleeding.

Watch for these other signs that indicate it’s time to see a healthcare provider right away:

  • The rash comes on suddenly and spreads quickly.
  • The rash begins to blister and leaves open sores.
  • The rash becomes painful.
  • The rash has signs of infection, such as yellow or green pus, inflammation, crusting, or pain.

Diagnosis

A healthcare provider will begin by taking an extensive history from you. Be prepared to answer questions about the following:

  • When the rash started
  • How it feels
  • What makes it worse or better
  • What remedies you have already tried

A doctor will then examine the rash. If they cannot determine a diagnosis, they may refer you to a dermatologist. 

Diagnosis may involve:

  • Medical history and exam
  • Culture of the rash to look for a fungal infection
  • Skin sample using a piece of transparent tape to look for pinworm eggs

Treatment

The treatment for a butt rash will depend on the cause. A healthcare provider may recommend starting with a steroid cream to help calm the inflammation and itching. Rashes caused by yeast or ringworm require antifungal medications. 

If your healthcare provider prescribes a steroid like prednisone, be sure to take it exactly as directed. It’s common to want to cut back on the medication once the rash clears up, but doing so could lead to a rebound rash. This kind of rash occurs when someone stops a steroid abruptly, and the rash comes back more intensely than before.

Summary

Butt rashes can be caused by common conditions like fungal and parasitic infections, hemorrhoids, skin allergies and sensitivities, heat, and acne. Less commonly, they might be caused by viral infections, cancer, and lichen sclerosus.

A Word From Verywell

A butt rash is a pain in the, well, you know. Fortunately, you can quickly and easily treat most cases of butt rash at home. First, keep the area clean and dry to help prevent irritation. Then, soothe the itch with calamine lotion or oatmeal baths.

If home remedies are not helping, see your healthcare provider. They will help you determine the cause of your rash, as well as an effective treatment. If your rash ever becomes painful or looks infected, see a dermatologist or healthcare provider right away.

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