What Causes Butt Pimples and How to Get Rid of Them

How to Treat Butt Acne

We all want our booties to look great. But are those, uh, butt pimples? Yes, butt acne is a thing, but you can get rid of it.

Got Pimples on Your Butt? Congrats, You're Normal

Rear view of man and woman; butt acne.
Photo: Maskot / Getty Images

No one wants to admit to them, but nearly all of us will get pimples on the butt at some point in our life. It's common and generally is not a big deal. "Butt acne" can happen at any age, and it occurs equally in both men and women.

You may just get a bum pimple here and there. Or you may have rough, red bumps across the entirety of both cheeks. They may hurt, or itch, or not. All is normal.

You've Got Blocked Pores

Pimples on the bum can be the result of blocked pores. Yes, your bum has pores too.  And they can become clogged just like pores anywhere else on your body.

People who have acne in other areas often get booty breakouts as well. Acne vulgaris, or what we call common acne, can sometimes creep down from the chest, shoulders and back to the buttocks. 

For widespread acne like this, it's a wise idea to see a dermatologist. Body acne can be difficult to treat and responds best to prescription treatments.

Your Butt "Acne" May Not Be Acne at All

Actually, the vast majority of "butt acne" is not truly acne at all. While we tend to call any collection of red bumps on the skin "acne," it's quite likely those blemishes across your derriere are actually caused by something entirely different.

Folliculitis

The most common cause of red, inflamed pimples on your backside is folliculitis. That's just a fancy way of saying inflamed hair follicle.

That's right, you have hair over nearly all areas of your body, including your booty. When a hair follicle gets irritated, it becomes red and swollen. The bumps can develop a white head and look rather like acne pimples. These bumps are sometimes painful or itchy, but not always.

Folliculitis can happen most anywhere on the body, by the way. It's not limited to the butt.

So, now you're wondering how the heck those follicles are becoming inflamed in the first place? 

Dermatologist friends tell us that butt acne is becoming much more common, probably because of our clothing choices and what's now in style. The friction caused by tight-fitting clothing can be enough to irritate your hair follicles. So, if you live in yoga pants or spandex running shorts, or if tight jeans and slim-fit slacks are your go-to day wear, you may be unknowingly contributing to your butt breakouts.

Another hair follicle irritant: sweat. Even if you're not flat out sweating, wearing undergarments of non-breathable material, like nylon or polyester, can hold moisture against your skin. Again, this can irritate those hair follicles.

Keratosis Pilaris

Instead of red, inflamed blemishes, what if you have fine, rough bumps across your booty? You most likely have keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis pilaris is a very common skin condition. It causes small skin-colored or red bumps across the surface of the skin. The bumps may look rather like tiny pimples or even goosebumps. You might not really notice them except when you run your hand across your bum.

These bumps develop when there is a buildup of keratin around the pore opening. Keratin is a protein that forms a protective layer on the surface of the skin. For reasons unknown, the keratin builds up and forms a hard plug, creating that bump you see and feel.

You may have had this condition your entire life and never knew those bumps had a name. Keratosis pilaris commonly develops on the buttocks, backs of the upper arms, and fronts of the thighs. Children often get it on their cheeks (of the face this time, not the bum) too.

There's no specific cause of keratosis pilaris. It does tend to run in families. It's often at its worst during childhood and the teen years, and fades over time. Although it's annoying, the good news is keratosis pilaris is completely harmless.

Boils (AKA Skin Abscesses)

If you have a very large, painful pimple (or a cluster of large pimples) on your derriere, you may have a boil. Boils, also called skin abscesses, develop when an infection takes root within the hair follicle. 

Staph bacteria are the most common culprits that cause boils. But other bacteria like strep or pseudomonas can also be to blame. Although rare, fungal infections cause boils as well.

Boils start off small, but quickly grow into large blemishes. And boils hurt! They can happen anywhere on the body, and often on the buttocks.

Treating Butt Acne

You're not doomed to simply live with butt pimples. Ready for some ideas to help clear up booty breakouts?

Benzoyl Peroxide

Even though butt pimples aren't technically acne, you can still treat it with over-the-counter acne treatment products. Benzoyl peroxide body wash or bar soap is the best option. You can get it at any drugstore or big box store over the counter; you won't need a prescription. Benzoyl peroxide works best for inflamed bumps (folliculitis). Gently soap up all effected areas every time you shower.

Exfoliating Skin Creams

Keeping the follicles from becoming blocked will help you skin stay baby-bum-smooth. To do this, regular exfoliation is key. Exfoliating creams help speed up cell turnover while keeping the skin moisturized, and they're especially helpful for keratosis pilaris. Look for over-the-counter creams that contain glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid. Prescription creams containing tretinoin can be used in more severe cases.

Topical or Oral Antibiotics

In the cases of severe infection, topical or oral antibiotics may be needed. If your blemishes are very red, swollen, and painful and home treatment isn't helping, a visit to your physician is recommended.

Lancing and Draining

You can often heal boils with good home treatment. Warm compresses can help them come to a head and drain, which helps them feel better as well as sets them on the way to healing. But if your boil isn't starting to get better after seven days or so, see a doctor. He may lance your boil, or have another treatment option for your boil. Under no circumstances should you try to lance a boil yourself.

Tips for Minimizing Butt Acne

Everyone gets pimples on their backsides every now and again. It's not possible to completely prevent it, but there are some things you can do to minimize butt breakouts.

  • Shower immediately after sweating. Sweat can irritate the hair follicles making your bum prone to breakouts. So no hanging out in your yoga pants after workouts.
  • Switch to cotton underwear. Cotton breathes better than synthetic material.
  • Don't scrub. Scrubbing will irritate already inflamed follicles making blemishes redder and more obvious. Instead, exfoliate with body washes or creams that contain skin-smoothing ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids.
  • Don't pick at or pop blemishes. This can make breakouts worse.
  • Stay away from tight-fitting bottoms. The friction tight pants cause can trigger a breakout on your buns.

A Word from Verywell

An occasional pimple on your backside isn't a big deal. Even a bum full of tiny, fine, red bumps isn't anything to worry about, so long as they aren't painful, super itchy, or getting worse.

If you have a pimple that gets really big (dime-sized or larger) or one that hurts badly, it's a good idea to have a physician check it out. Same thing if you have many very inflamed pimples across your derriere.

But, in most cases, just a few changes to your body care routine will get you much improvement of those butt breakouts.

Sources:

"Boils." Medline Plus. U.S. Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 2 Dec. 2014.

Del Rosso JQ, Silverberg N, Zeichner JA. "When Acne is Not Acne." Dermatologic Clinics. 2016 Apr;34(2):225-8.

"Folliculitis." MedlinePlus. U.S. Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 15 Feb. 2015. Web.

Continue Reading