Ask any pubescent teen or stressed out working adult: Facial acne is one of life’s greatest nuisances. Now imagine how much more annoying it is when you develop acne all over your body, including your derrière, especially when the season of wearing less and going out more is almost upon us. While butt acne is as uncomfortable to discuss as facial acne, it’s also very common and can be treated and prevented with a few tips and tricks from the pros. No need to panic, dermatologist Dr. Deanne Robinson has all the answers.
What is butt acne?
First things first, butt acne is a common skin condition with its own fancy medical name called folliculitis. It looks a lot similar to the regular acne that appears on your face or chest, but it’s an entirely different condition. Folliculitis is “an inflammation of the hair follicle caused by a fungal or bacterial infection (most commonly the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria) or irritation,” Dr. Robinson explains. It’s easy to spot these bumps, as they appear as shallow red bumps at the skin's surface, which can either show up as a single bump or a cluster. “They may be itchy, and if the bacteria spreads, it may form a deeper boil or cluster of boils which can be painful,” she adds.
What actually causes pimples on your bum?
When bacteria gets trapped in the little tiny hairs on your bum, the skin around the hair becomes inflamed and causes bumps. "A breakout is usually triggered by friction, and environments that foster bacteria—damp, suffocating fabrics—which is why it's more common to see flares in the summer months or for those who work out and don't shower immediately afterward," Dr. Robinson says. A common culprit? Workout leggings, as its the closet to the body and often trap in sweat.
How can you prevent butt acne?
Dr. Robinson suggests keeping your skin clean and dry as much as you can. "Change out of damp clothes as soon as possible and wash your body," she says. Of course, using the right body wash can help keep the area clean and breakout free. Once your body is cleansed, Dr. Robinson advises using a noncomedogenic lotion "and let it fully dry before getting dressed to not trap moisture."
For those who work out often, Arm & Hammer Invisible Body Powder Spray will be the star of your gym bag. "It contains baking soda and odor neutralizing ingredients to absorb moisture and sweat," Dr. Robinson explains. "Spray it on before putting on workout leggings, shorts, etc."
What should you avoid using when treating it?
Never, ever pick at the bumps. Also, using physical exfoliants can make your condition even worse. "Don't scrub and exfoliate with a physical exfoliator that contains microbeads because it can cause bacteria to spread, as well as further inflammation and irritation and well as long term scarring."
What types of products can you use to treat folliculitis?
The same way you'd treat your facial acne is the same approach you should have for your butt. "Look for the same active ingredients as you would for fighting acne on the face, including the skin heroes salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide," Dr. Robinson says.
PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Benzoyl Peroxide PanOxyl amazon.com $11.40 SHOP NOW
"The skin on our behinds is thicker and can tolerate the 10% concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide."
CLn BodyWash Moisturizing Body Wash CLn® amazon.com $20.00 SHOP NOW
"Harnesses the power of sodium hypochlorite wash to prevent the spread of bacteria, which you use in the shower and leave on for 1 to 2 mins before rinsing."
Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash for Clean, Clear Skin Neutrogena amazon.com $57.76 SHOP NOW
"This body wash contains salicylic acid, which helps keep pores open and clear."
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser For Normal Skin CeraVe ulta.com $13.99 SHOP NOW
Another great body wash with salicylic acid that helps to minimize breakouts.
Tea Tree Oil 100% Pure Nature's Nutrition amazon.com $11.92 SHOP NOW
"Tea Tree Oil has great natural antimicrobial properties. Dab a drop or two on the infected area with a cotton ball."
Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion 'kiehl''s' kiehls.com $38.00 SHOP NOW
A nourishing body lotion to improve skin texture.
Arm & Hammer No White Mess Invisible Spray Powder Arm & Hammer amazon.com $13.88 SHOP NOW
"This spray contains a sweat activated technology to keep the skin on the buttocks feeling fresh all day."
Nerisha Penrose Assistant Editor Nerisha is the assistant editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty and fashion.