Butt acne isn’t a big deal when our bottom halves are in hibernation all winter, but now that for most of the weather is officially warming up, you might be wondering how to address those breakouts on your bum as you expose more skin. (P.S. Need the right swimsuit? We’ve got you!)
Between pandemic stress and sitting on our butts all day with our work-from-home lifestyles, it’s not surprising that body acne may be more prevalent. First, know that it’s nothing to be ashamed about — it happens to many people and you can choose to embrace it and leave it be, or you can address it. If you’re in the latter camp, we enlisted the help of Naana Boakye, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, owner of Bergen Dermatology, and best-selling author of Inside Out Beauty: Your Prescription for Healthy, Radiant, and Acne Controlled Skin. Read on for her tips on understanding butt acne, including how to prevent and treat it.
Butt Acne, Explained
Wherever you have pores on your body, you can be susceptible to getting acne — even on your butt. If it’s true acne, it’s likely you have pimples occurring on other parts of your body like your chest and shoulders, rather than an isolated incident on your butt.
If your spots are localized to your butt and it’s not a chronic or full-body issue, it’s still possible that it could be acne, but “it could also be a condition called hot tub folliculitis after spending time in a hot tub,” says Boakye. Folliculitis could also happen if you’re sitting in sweaty workout clothes for longer than you should or you’re wearing tight clothing that irritates the hair follicles (a.k.a. if you’re wearing the same work-from-home leggings every day — we can relate.) It’s also possible it could be keratosis pilaris, both can have a similar appearance to pimples. Both folliculitis and keratosis pilaris will look more like patchy bumps, whereas acne can be a mix of whiteheads and blackheads.
Treating Butt Acne
The ingredients to treat your butt acne isn’t too different from treating the rest of your body or facial acne, but as far as the method you use, “you want to consider what your lifestyle is and how much you want to commit to getting it cleared up,” says Boakye. “If you’re always in a rush, I wouldn’t recommend a topical because it’ll just rub off right away. Instead, we’d focus on in-shower options like a benzoyl peroxide body wash that you’ll leave on for a few minutes so it can penetrate the skin before you rinse it away,” she says.
If you’re relaxing at home and have the time, you could also consider a salicylic acid topical if you’re able to lay on your stomach as your treatment works its magic. Your doctor could also prescribe a clindamycin lotion, which is an antibiotic that helps kill the acneic bacteria. “Treatment depends on the individual, so your options can always cater to your preferences,” says Boakye.
If your dermatologist suspects your butt acne isn’t acne, but folliculitis, you’re better off with an anti-fungal medication. Or, if it’s keratosis pilaris, they might prescribe an acid-based exfoliant. So, it’s best to speak to your dermatologist to figure out the best course of action.
Preventing Butt Acne
In order to minimize butt acne, there are a few measures you can take:
Avoid sitting too long in sweaty workout clothes.
It can be tempting to lounge around after you’ve exercised in the comfort of your home, but strip off dirty clothes and rinse off your body as soon as possible.
Switch to underwear in breathable fabrics like cotton.
This is important to do regularly — especially before a workout.
Wear loose-fitting, breathable pants and wash them often.
Just because you’re not actively sweating during the day, doesn’t give you an excuse to wash your clothes less often. Your clothes can still trap dirt and old skin cells that clog up pores.
Invest in a standing desk if you work at home.
This will help reduce the friction of your clothes on your butt. Or, set a timer on your phone to make sure you’re talking standing breaks. Without our pre-pandemic commutes and routines, it’s easy to sit at your desk (and on your bum) for hours on end.
Maintain your body care routine.
“Don’t stop using your body washes and treatments just because your butt acne has gone away. You can reduce how often you use them, but if acne is chronic, it can come back,” says Boakye.
A skin-polishing body scrub like Sunday Riley Charcoal Smoothie Jelly Body Scrub uses a combination of salicylic acid, lactic acid, and niacinamide to slough off dead skin cells that could lead to clogged pores.
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