How to Get Rid of Butt Acne, Once and For All

Those red bumps on your booty? They may not be pimples at all.

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Chances are, you've spent more time than you care to admit up close and personal with your pimples. You can clearly identify the whitehead on your chin (spot treatment to the rescue) and the blackhead on your nose (looking at you, salicylic acid), but it’s trickier to figure out what's going on with your butt acne. The good news? Butt acne is actually *super* common—and dermatologists have a pretty foolproof treatment plan for getting rid of bumps on the behind. 

“You can have perfectly clear skin everywhere and have acne strictly on the buttocks,” explains Dr. Alicia Zalka, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep. “Patients are often reluctant to ask about it, but it’s perfectly normal to suffer from this problem.” Whether you have tons of little red dots or just a few problematic pimples, getting your bottom smooth as a baby's likely just a requires a couple easy changes to your daily routine. Here, we're breaking down what causes butt acne and how to treat it.

What Is Butt Acne?

While you can have traditional acne on your booty, that’s very rarely the case. More likely, the small red bumps on your butt cheeks are actually something called folliculitis, which is inflammation of the hair follicle. While it might look like a whitehead, Dr. Elizabeth Houshmand, a board-certified dermatologist, explains that these marks are typically void of pus. “Folliculitis has a hair in the center of a red bump and the white material associated with the bump is often dead skin,” she says. “If a diffused area is covered in similar shaped spots, [it’s probably folliculitis].” 

Even though folliculitis is the most common diagnosis, it is possible to actually have acne, which would present as a mix of pustules, whiteheads, and cysts, or a different type of rash altogether, on your behind. “Some other conditions may appear on the buttocks such as fungus rash,” explains Dr. Zalka. “These rashes, which are known as tinea, often itch and appear scaly and patchy.” If you have an itchy sensation, or deep, painful cysts, make an appointment with your board-certified dermatologist. 

What Causes Butt Acne?

Developing butt acne can be a genetic predisposition, yes. But more often than not, it’s the result of friction irritating the area. “Common causes are shaving, waxing, and sugaring the buttocks, irritation from tight clothing rubbing the skin during sports, staying in sweaty clothes, and prolonged occlusion from staying seated,” explains Dr. Houshmand. 

Dr. Zalka adds that the most typical butt acne patients are going to fall on two ends of the spectrum. “[I see it most] in young, active people who get it from exercise and sport activities as well as those who have an occupation or leisure activity that involves prolonged driving or sitting on a vehicle seat.” 

How to Get Rid of Butt Acne

While it would certainly be easy to put your handy-dandy spot treatment on your butt pimple, that’s unfortunately not going to cut it. Thankfully, there are a few changes you can make to your routine that’ll prevent the pimple-like bumps from popping up in the first place. 

Don't Sit in Sweat

“Be sure to remove workout clothing like yoga pants and bike shorts as soon as possible after exercise,” advises Dr. Zalka. “If possible, shower or cleanse the skin directly after working out.” She also recommends reaching for loose-fitting or moisture-wicking clothing that isn’t going to rub against the skin.

Change Up Your Body Wash

When it comes to products, switching out your body wash is going to be the best line of defense. “Salicylic acid, an oil-soluble beta-hydroxy acid, is a great option because it can remove excess oil, unclog pores, and increase cellular turnover,” explains Dr. Houshmand. “I also like benzoyl peroxide because it helps with prevention and treatment. It comes in various concentrations and your dermatologist can help pick which is best for your skin.”

Consider Laser Hair Removal

If you’ve done all of the above to no avail, it might be time to consider getting laser hair removal, which will address the root cause of folliculitis: the hair follicle. “This is recommended for patients with recurrences not responding to treatment,” Dr. Houshmand adds. “This is not the first line for all patients.”

How to Avoid Butt Hyperpigmentation

The same way that acne on your face can leave dark marks behind, folliculitis or butt acne can do the same to your butt cheeks. “You should never pop or pick,” warns Dr. Houshmand. “This can make the breakout worse and lead to scarring.” She also recommends steering clear of heavy oils, like coconut oil and olive oil, as they can clog pores and cause even more flare ups.  

It’s also important to use light pressure when cleansing the area. “Gentle exfoliation may be used intermittently,” says Dr. Zalka. “However, you should avoid vigorous scrubbing that can inflame the problem further.” 

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Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.