Don't Treat Those Bumps On Your Butt Like Acne, Because They Probably Aren't

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While facial acne is the most annoying (I'm looking at you, chinpimple who decided to show up on the day of a big presentation), acne anywhere on your body can be a real downer. Case in point: when you're ready to put on a bathing suit for a swim and realize you have a few pimples on your butt. Whyyyyy? Well, for starters, you might find some comfort in the fact that those red or pus-filled bumps on your butt aren't actually "acne" per se. At least not the same kind that forms on your face.
Meet our experts: Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai in New York City, Gary Goldenberg, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Heather Woolery- Lloyd , MD, Board Dermatologist and Director of the Skin of the Color Division, University of Miami Department of Dermatology, Mona Gohara, MD, Dermatologist and Associate Clinical Professor at Yale University
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"Butt acne isn't usually true acne, it's folliculitis, a mild infection of the hair follicles that leads to red bumps and pus-filled pimples," explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Dermatology in New York City .
Now that you know that the bumps on your other cheeks are probably not pimples, it's time to learn how to manage butt and get your booty ready for summer. If you want to understand why your peach isn't that smooth and some derm-approved tips on how to make it baby soft, read on.
What Causes Butt Acne Anyway?
Buttne is usually caused by a combination of clogged hair follicles and a bacterial infection. But more often than not, you can trace your butt bumps to blocked follicles, says Gary Goldenberg, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. Below are a few reasons you might end up with butt bumps. Warning: They can range from disgusting to "Wait a minute?"
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1. Hormones: Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, board-certified dermatologist, explains that there's a hormonal component to butt acne. Even though other factors can contribute to or worsen the overgrowth of bacteria that can lead to inflamed hair follicles (aka folliculitis), hormones can still play an important role, she says. “Hormonal changes (as seen in the menstrual cycle) can make the lining of the follicles stickier, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. Androgens are the hormones most likely to do this.”
2. Keep your wet, sweaty clothes on after hitting the gym: Your sweat can dry over your pores, trapping dirt and dust and leaving bumps. Change your clothes and hop in the shower as soon as you can after your workout. If you don't have time for a full shower, do a quick clean to get rid of bacteria and sweat with a wipe like Degree Deodorant Wipes.
2. Sitting too much: Folliculitis is often caused by friction or irritation. And too much booty-to-chair time can make things worse thanks to seat pressure. "If your job involves a lot of sitting, make an effort to get up more often," says Mona Gohara, MD, dermatologist and member of the Women's Health Advisory Board.
3. Don't change your underwear daily: Unfresh underwear brings acne-causing dirt, sweat, and oil up close and personal to your skin. Make sure you put on a new pair every day.
4. Wearing tight-fitting clothing: Yes, your favorite skinny jeans and leggings can actually affect whether you get butt acne. Tight-fitting clothing not only causes friction against the skin, but also traps sweat and oil, making them more likely to block these hair follicles.
5. Life in a bathing suit: Do you notice more butt acne in the summer? Guess what else is tight, wet, and basically your underwear? Yes, a wetsuit is the perfect recipe for butt acne. Change your clothes (or a dry bathing suit) as soon as possible.
How to get rid of butt acne
1. Jump in the shower right after your workout.
"Showering immediately after a workout can help remove sweat, oil, and dirt that builds up on the skin's surface," says Dr. Illustrator.
2. Use antibacterial soap.
dr Woolery-Lloyd recommends the CLn body wash, which was developed by a doctor and contains sodium hypochlorite to kill bacteria.
If your butt is sensitive and can't take a harsh cleanser, she recommends Dove Antibacterial Wash.
3. Lathers up with benzoyl peroxide.
Try treating your prey with a benzoyl peroxide body wash or cleanser. The ingredient is effective in treating acne and folliculitis due to its antimicrobial (aka bacteria-fighting) properties. "Sing the whole alphabet once you've applied the product to allow it to sit on the skin long enough to work its magic, then rinse off," advises Dr. Illustrator. (FYI: BP can bleach colored fabrics, so be sure to rinse thoroughly and use white towels!)
4. Moisturize daily to prevent and treat.
Miami Beach Bum is specially formulated for butt acne. When founder and ocean sports lover Ayssa Di Pietro dealt with butt acne from essentially living in a wetsuit, she turned to botanical ingredients to help her skin rebuild its barrier and rebalance its microbiome. At a pH your skin likes, this lotion uses an aloe base to restore your skin's acid mantle and oregano to kill bacteria and balance your skin's ecosystem. Di Pietro told WH that she uses it once a day after her shower and it keeps everything from her back to her cheeks clear and smooth.


5. Unclog pores with salicylic acid.
You can also combat your butt breakouts with a salicylic acid acne treatment. This form of beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) can help slough off excess oils and slough off dead skin cells so they don't get trapped in your pores and follicles (which is where Buttne starts). Apply this after showering.
6. Lighten dark spots with glycolic acid or azelaic acid.
These ingredients do double duty: glycolic acid fights acne by helping the skin shed dead skin cells and excess oil that clogs pores, while azelaic acid kills acne-causing bacteria. "Both have the benefit of lightening dark spots that can develop after pimples or folliculitis clear up," says Dr. Illustrator.
Another possibility is that your doctor may prescribe 15-20% azelaic acid or, according to Dr. Woolery-Lloyd grabs something OTC that isn't as strong.
7. Shave properly.
Yes, some people shave their butts. "Shave in the direction of the hair fiber instead of against it," says Dr. Gohara. "And use plenty of shaving cream and lube [to avoid irritation]."
8. Consult a dermatologist.
When at-home solutions aren't enough, it may be time to consult a professional. Your derm might suggest trying topical antibiotics like clydomycin and azithromycin lotion, and in more severe cases, oral antibiotics, says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd.
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