Truth be told, buttne can be a real pain in the you-know-what. But it’s not uncommon: according to dermatologist and SLMD Skincare founder Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) having occasional bumps on your buttocks is part of being human.
But even though posterior pimples often resemble acne, they’re not always caused by clogged pores. Understanding what’s behind those bumps is the key to figuring out the right way to treat and prevent them. Here, we reveal the cheeky facts about butt acne.
What causes pimples on your butt?
It’s a fact: you can get acne pretty much anywhere on your body — including your buttocks. That’s because sebaceous glands — tiny organs that generate sebum (aka natural oils) — are everywhere, except your palms and the soles of your feet. If sebum and dead skin get trapped inside your pores, C. acnes bacteria can move in and trigger an immune response — creating a swollen, red pimple.
According to Dr. Lee, acne on your butt is a type of acne mechanica: this area is prone to friction, sweat and moisture that can irritate skin and encourage bacterial growth. When you combine these factors with tight clothing, you’ve got a recipe for breakouts.
How to tell if a bump on your butt is acne or not
Bumps on your backside aren’t always acne — in fact, it’s more likely that a case of buttne is caused by another common skin condition, including:
- Ingrown hairs. Especially if you shave in this region, hairs can become trapped under the skin and create irritation. Sometimes, these red bumps can contain pus, making them hard to distinguish from true pimples. Ingrown bumps often respond well to acne spot treatments and alpha hydroxy acid. Try: SLMD BP Acne Spot Treatment, AHA/BHA Swipes.
- Folliculitis. An infection of the hair follicles characterized by rash-like, superficial red bumps. May be itchy and/or pus-filled. Sometimes caused by yeast (aka fungal acne), which thrives in moist areas. If you’ve tried treating your butt breakouts with traditional acne products without results, it could be folliculitis.
- Boils/carbuncles. Most commonly caused by the common bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, this is a deeper hair follicle infection that’s painful and filled with pus. Sometimes several boils form a larger carbuncle, which can be mistaken for a cyst. Boils typically heal on their own — if not, see your dermatologist.
- Keratosis pilaris. These tiny, sometimes pink/red/dark bumps are smaller than acne pimples and are filled with a hard ball of keratin protein. Common on the upper arms, thighs and buttocks, KP is best treated with a combination of alpha hydroxy acids and moisturizers. Try: SLMD Body Smoothing System.
Dr. Pimple Popper’s tips to treat & prevent buttne
#1 Loosen up
Tight clothing, synthetic fabrics, or even sitting for extended periods can create friction on the buttocks, irritating the skin and leading to acne. Opt for breathable, loose-fitting clothing (and undergarments!) whenever possible.
#2 Keep it clean
Inadequate cleansing, not showering after workouts, or using harsh soaps can disrupt the skin's natural balance and contribute to butt acne. Make sure to shower after sweating with a benzoyl peroxide body wash and spritz on an acne treatment spray — also great in a pinch if you can’t rinse off right away.
#3 Be gentle
Over-exfoliating with harsh scrubs, waxing, or frequent shaving can compromise the skin barrier and create more acne. Use chemical exfoliants and treatment masks, and avoid shaving over active breakouts so you don’t spread bacteria.
#4 Check your ingredients
Choose personal care products like lotions that don’t have synthetic fragrance or pore-clogging ingredients that could lead to occlusion.
#5 Hands off
This should go without saying, but please don’t pick your buttne. It can make a pimple worse, and create a scar.
Dr. Lee's Last Word
Bumps on the buttocks are really common, because you have heat, moisture, friction — plus tight clothing that can occlude the skin. It could be acne, but it could also be folliculitis caused by bacteria or fungus — even just shaving or waxing. My advice is to treat the area with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide and if it doesn’t improve, talk to your dermatologist.