If you get painful pimples on your butt, you’re not alone. It’s a super common skin condition that’s typically caused by a buildup of bacteria from your sweat and moisture down there. “Butt acne is typically more noticeable in warmer summer months,” says Michael Kassardjian, DO, board certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.
But excessive moisture in your butt area (a.k.a. the dreaded “swamp ass”) isn’t the only cause. Butt acne “can even happen from ingrown hairs after shaving or waxing,” says Anthony Rossi, MD, dermatologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Luckily, realizing that you have butt acne in the first place is half the battle, as the condition is easily treatable. Here’s how to get started.
1 Use compresses.
“If it’s a deep red nodule coming up from underneath the skin, you can try using warm compresses for 15 minutes several times a day to try to reduce the inflammation,” says Rajani Katta, MD, author of Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet.
2 Use an acne scrub.
“I like to have guys use a benzoyl peroxide face wash or soap for the buttock and back as well if they are experiencing breakouts,” says Rossi. “The benzoyl peroxide is antibacterial. Allow at least five minutes of contact before washing off in the shower.”
3 Use a spot treatment.
Spot treatment gel is not a magic bullet, but it does help. “Spot treating the big zit can be also done using salicylic or glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide gel, and adapalene gel. For smaller ones, apply benzoyl peroxide to the surface twice a day,” says Katta.
“This can lead to hyperpigmentation and scarring. Additionally, you’re more likely to drive more bacteria into your skin, causing more inflammation, making the situation even worse,” says Kassardjian.
5 See a dermatologist.
“If the larger zit lasts for more than a few days without improvement, make sure to see your dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis, and possibly start you on some prescription medications to prevent infection,” says Kassardjian. “Dermatologist may also extract, drain and inject larger lesions to help improve them quicker.”
6 Hit the shower right after your workout.
To prevent butt acne in the future, “make sure you maintain good hygiene daily, specifically after aerobic activities or after any sweating,” says Kassardjian.
That’s why it’s crucial to hop in the shower and lather up, particularly after an intense workout. “The combination of your sweat, heat and friction increases your risk of recurrent stubborn folliculitis and allows potential bacteria to brew in your clothes.”
7 Wear breathable fabrics.
If you continue to have flare-ups, look to wear looser, light-weight clothing that is more breathable and avoid tight fitted occlusive clothing, especially during exercise. And “choose cotton underwear over nylon or spandex,” says Kassardjian.
To further prevent the buildup of sweat and moisture, you can also use zinc oxide paste, an ingredient used in diaper rash products. “This is a great skin barrier protection to help protect the skin from chaffing and moisture buildup. You can put a small layer on under your shorts or where the skin touches (fabric) to prevent,” says Dr. Rossi.
8 Beware of sketchy pools, spas, or hot tubs.
“Be cautious of spas or hot tubs if you’re uncertain whether the chlorine levels and cleanliness is up to par, and make sure you change out of your bathing suit after and rinse off well,” says Kassardjian.
By Emily Shiffer