How to Get Rid of Butt Acne in 2020

Butt acne may not be your favorite topic of conversation, but hey, we all get some form of it from time to time—or, at least, we think we do. Wha? Hear me out:Whenever you experience bumpy texture or spots on your butt, you’re probably quick to assume it’s acne, right? I mean, after all, we get acne on our chests, on our scalps, and on our backs, so why would our butts be any different? But as it turns out, the butt acne you’re experiencing likely isn’t acne at all—at least, not fully.

Don’t worry,, all shall become clear soon, because we turned to two board-certified dermatologists, Morgan Rabach, MD, and Shereene Idriss, MD, to explain WTF these zit-looking bumps really are on our butts.

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Is acne on your butt normal?

Dr. Rabach says “butt acne” is super common (and, yes, normal!), but if you want to get technical (and we do), what you’re experiencing is likely folliculitis—not the same kind of acne you’d get on your face. “It’s an inflammation of the hair follicles,” says Dr. Idriss, which can look like acne…but it’s not exactly the same thing. So how can you tell if what you’re dealing with is folliculitis or acne? Welp…

What does folliculitis look like?

The reason folliculitis and acne are easily confused for each other is because they look very similar, but there are a few key differences. “Acne is defined by having comedones, which are blackheads and whiteheads,” says Dr. Rabach. “On the buttocks, you see folliculitis, which has a hair in the center of a red pimple, and the white material associated with the bump is often dead skin and white blood cells.” Yum. That said, there are instances where patients do get actual zits on their butts, which is why both Dr. Idriss and Dr. Rabach agree that you should ideally see a derm so you can find out exactly what’s going on and treat it the right way.

Why am I getting “pimples” on my butt?

In short, anything that causes friction can cause these butt bumps. And if you feel like your butt acne is more prevalent in the summer—exactly when you want to be showing off your butt—you’re right. Wet clothes, like a bathing suit or sweaty workout leggings, are two main offenders that lead to folliculitis. But don’t stress! You don’t have to swear off swimming and yoga forever. You just gotta know the right ways to go about your everyday life.

How to get rid of butt acne:

1. Use a benzoyl peroxide wash

Dr. Idriss recommends cleansing with an acne wash that contains a high percentage of benzoyl peroxide, like PanOxyl, which kills any bacteria on the skin that could lead to bacterial folliculitis. Heads up: Benzoyl peroxide is equally as known for bleaching fabrics as it is for clearing your skin, so if you don’t want to risking ruining your favorite bath towels, make sure to rinse your skin really well after cleansing.

2. Exfoliate your skin—but don’t scrub it

While you may be tempted to exfoliate the hell out of your bumpy butt, leave the grainy physical scrubs alone (and no picking, obvs). Instead, Dr. Idriss says to apply a gentle chemical exfoliator instead, which uses ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (such as lactic or glycolic acids) or beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) to keep dead skin cells from clogging your pores. Our faves:

3. Get a chemical peel

If you really want to get rid of your butt acne overnight, Dr. Rabach says the best treatments for butt acne are available at your dermatologist’s office. For the fastest results, she recommends an in-office chemical peel to encourage the shedding of skin. But for a less intense treatment, you can also try an at-home face peel, which relies on the same chemical exfoliants mentioned above to do the trick.

4. See your dermatologist for a topical antibiotic

Dr. Rabach also recommends asking your doctor about clindamycin lotion, which is a super-light topical medication that’s non-greasy and won’t stain your clothes. This antibiotic can be used to calm inflammation and kill bacteria that can lead to acne, or in this case, butt acne.

5. Choose breathable fabrics

The lighter and looser the fabric of your clothing is, the less likely you are to cause a folliculitis flare-up, which is why Dr. Rabach recommends cotton underwear. Trapped sweat and friction (Not-so-fun fact: these two things are also the main culprits of chafed skin) as a result of tight clothing and movement or close contact can easily cause inflammation of the hair follicle. Avoiding those things will get you one step closer to preventing butt acne or stop it from worsening, but we’re not done yet! Keep reading…

6. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics when working out

Dr. Rabach says she’s noticed way more folliculitis on the bum, and all that athleisure may be to blame. If a pair of tight pants rubs you the wrong way, maybe chill on wearing them for a bit until you get everything under control. When you absolutely have to wear tight clothes to work out, opt for a moisture-wicking fabrics to prevent the sweat from getting trapped against your skin.

7. Change out of sweaty clothes

Say it with me: Activewear is not loungewear. Take off your sweaty workout clothes as soon as you get home (or even sooner if you can). Oh, and Dr. Rabach says the same goes for your wet swimsuits or any other damp clothing.

8. Shower after sweating

Listen, I know you’re tired after working out, and we’re already asking a lot of you to peel off your sticky bike shorts when your arms are still burning, but once you’ve made it that far, you might as well step in the shower and wash away all that sweat and bacteria while you’re at it. According to Dr. Rabach, a quick rinse with body wash is key for treating and preventing butt acne, and it also works wonders for all over your body, like the acne on your back.

9. Use salicylic acid to get rid of acne scars on your butt

We touched on salicylic acid as a spot treatment for smoothing out the bumps of butt acne, but Dr. Rabach also loves the ingredient for reducing the dark spots or acne scars left behind on your thighs or butt by the old active lesions and recommends an over-the-counter salicylic acid face wash. This will not only help to lighten the spots by encouraging new skin cells but also prevent them from popping up, so it’s a good ingredient to keep on hand.

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