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Why do i have butt pimples: Causes, Treatment and Prevention – Cleveland Clinic

Causes, Treatment and Prevention – Cleveland Clinic

Once upon a time, a sage by the name of Sir Mix-a-Lot took to the airwaves to extoll the virtues of a “Rump-o’-smooth-skin.” Thirty years later, the skincare industry is awash with products designed to make that goal a reality — from butt butter and butt polish to butt masks and creams.

Butt it still happens: baby got “buttne.”

But what exactly is butt acne? Turns out — most of the time — it isn’t really acne at all.

We talked to dermatology specialist Lauren Zamborsky, CNP, to find out what conditions cause pimple-esque blemishes on your behind, how to treat them and how to keep them from coming back.

What is butt acne, really?

The three most common causes of so-called butt acne aren’t acne. Folliculitis, keratosis pilaris and boils (or, if there are multiple, carbuncles) are more common. In fact, you may have more than one of these conditions!


When it comes to rump bumps, the most common culprit is folliculitis. Put simply, folliculitis is an irritation of a hair follicle.

That irritation could be the result of any number of issues, Zamborsky says. “It can be something very simple like friction, wearing clothing that’s too tight, shaving too frequently or getting too close of a shave, waxing or even plucking hairs.” Folliculitis can also be the result of a bacterial infection (the most common is staphylococcus aureus), a fungal infection (for example, a yeast infection of the skin) or even a mite.

People who have compromised immune systems (especially people with HIV and AIDS) can also contract rarer forms of folliculitis, like eosinophilic folliculitis. Doctors usually treat eosinophilic folliculitis with anti-retroviral medications.

Depending on what’s causing the condition and the scope of the problem, folliculitis’ appearance can differ. In some cases, folliculitis causes a single, pimple-like pustule to form. In other cases, it more closely resembles a rash.

Keratosis pilaris

Unlike folliculitis, which can make itself at home pretty much anywhere you’ve got hair, keratosis pilaris is usually confined to a few specific body parts:

  • The back of your arms.
  • The outside of your thighs.
  • The back of your thighs
  • You guessed it: your butt.

It’s also commonly found on children’s faces.

“Keratosis pilaris happens when keratin — a protein that’s on the skin — builds up within the hair follicles,” Zamborsky explains. “The conditions is very common among younger people. It’s typically something you grow out of over the course of your lifetime.”

She adds that keratosis pilaris occurs when your skin is very dry. As a result, the condition is more prominent during the winter.

Boils (carbuncles)

Fun fact: Boils are actually a specific type of folliculitis!

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OK … maybe not a fun fact. But it’s good to know.

“You can have deep folliculitis or superficial folliculitis” Zamborsky notes. “Deep folliculitis is what we call a boil. The fancy name for a single boil is a furuncle. If there’s multiple boils or they have multiple white heads in them, that’s what we call a carbuncle.

The names are fun to say, but whatever you call them, these blemishes are no laughing matter.

“Boils are usually the result of an overgrowth of a bacteria called staphylococcus aureus — a staph infection,” Zamborksy says.

About 20% of us have staphylococcus aureus living in our noses or on our skin, she continues. That bacteria can transfer under your fingernails and, from there, spread to other parts of your body. It’s one of the many reasons you want to wash your hands regularly and avoid picking at zits of any kind.

While rare, fungi, streptococcus and pseudomonas can also cause these painful abscesses.

Other possibilities

While folliculitis, keratosis pliaris and boils are the most likely causes of so-called “butt acne,” that doesn’t mean there aren’t other conditions that could be responsible. Some of the not-so-usual suspects include:

  • Acne: While it’s rare, you can have acne on your butt. “I always tell my patients, nothing in medicine is ever certain,” Zamborsky says. “It would be rare for you to exclusively see acne on your butt. However, anything is possible.”
  • Contact dermatitis: Contact dermatitis is a fancy name for inflamed skin. Dermatitis happens when you make physical contact with an irritant or allergen. Perhaps the most common kind of dermatitis: eczema.
  • Eczema: You can get eczema — a common condition that causes dry, itchy and scaly patches of skin — pretty much everywhere. Sometimes, eczema causes a bumpy rash that resembles pimples. 

Could I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

If you’ve arrived at this article out of a fear that you’ve contracted a sexually transmitted infection, you aren’t alone. A lot of people search the internet with this exact question.

The most common causes of butt acne aren’t sexually transmitted, but it is possible to contract an STI with symptoms that include pimple-like bumps on your butt.

It’s possible that what looks like butt acne is actually herpes. “Herpes simplex — the virus that can cause genital herpes — can sometimes look like pimples,” Zamborsky says. “They’re typically more blister-like and feel softer than a pimple.”

For some people, herpes burns and itches. Other people don’t notice any sensation at all.

Another possible diagnosis: Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox). This condition spreads through skin-to-skin contact and causes pus-filled blisters to form — and ultimately crust over — on your skin. While there is a vaccine for Mpox, it’s not as widely available as one would hope. If you think you’ve been exposed to Mpox, you should see a doctor immediately, as you may be contagious.

It’s also important to remember that both herpes simplex and Mpox can be spread through nonsexual contact as well. When in doubt, get tested.

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What causes butt acne?

At this point, we’ve established that “butt acne” is a misnomer. As there’s a wide range of conditions that could manifest in pimple-like bumps on your behind, the list of possible causes is long. That said, there’s such as thing as an “ideal ecosystem” for these kinds of problems. Let’s break down the components:

  • Sweating. Zamborksy notes that this is a particular problem for athletes — especially student athletes, who may be stuck in their sweaty uniforms for hours before they’re able to get home and shower.
  • Friction. Think carefully about the clothes you wear — particularly the fabric content and fit. You may need to dump the athleisure aesthetic in favor of something more breathable.
  • Sitting. If your body isn’t moving very much, all the sweat and bacteria you generate in a day are getting trapped on your bum.
  • Shaving, waxing, depilating … messing with your hair follicles is a recipe for inflammation.

It’s pretty hard to avoid booty blemishes, but you can reduce your risk with some minor lifestyle adjustments.

How to get rid of butt acne

Let’s be honest: Butt pimples can be a bit embarrassing. If they’re not causing you serious pain, you may prefer to treat them yourself at home. It’s fine to try the DIY approach at first.

Here’s the order of operations Zamborsky recommends:

  1. If you aren’t showering daily, start. Use simple soap and water and cleanse the affected area gently. If that doesn’t work…
  2. Try using an acne wash with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid in it. These kinds of washes may dry out your skin, so don’t overuse them. “It’s OK if it’s not something you use every day,” Zamborsky says. If you do use it every day, follow up with a noncomedogenic moisturizer (more on that later). If that doesn’t resolve the problem…
  3. Go to the drugstore and purchase an antimicrobial wash like Chlorhexidine® or Hibiclens®. “That’s what we use for more severe cases,” Zamborsky says.

If these at-home treatments aren’t working, she advises getting checked out by a doctor.

“There can be a lot of different causes of butt blemishes. It’s often a bacteria, but it could also be something like yeast. It could even be viral. Getting to the root of what’s causing this issue is important and your healthcare provider will be able to work with you to figure it out.”

In some cases — say, when a boil is particularly painful or severe — the doctor may need to lance it. Do not do that yourself. In fact, keep your hands away from your rump bumps as much as possible.

“The biggest thing I want people to be cognizant of is how important it is that you not pick your skin,” Zamborsky emphasizes. “The more we pick our skin, the more irritated we make it and the worse the problem gets.”

Butt acne prevention

As you can imagine, preventing butt acne is easier said than done. Still, there are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of recurrence.

  • Get in the shower immediately after working out. If that’s not possible, Zamborsky recommends at least changing your clothes.
  • Wash often and gently. Showering every day can be helpful for a whole host of reasons beyond butt acne. It’s also one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make to prevent zits. But resist the urge to scour your bottom with lots of fancy exfoliants: A gentle cleanse with soap and water — or one of the washes we mentioned earlier — is less likely to cause irritation.
  • Use noncomedogenic moisturizers. Occlusive moisturizers have their place in your skin care regimen, but that place is not your butt. Opt instead for oil-free and noncomedogenic products that won’t clog your pores.
  • Get up and move. Whether by choice or obligation, sitting on your butt raises the likelihood that you’ll encounter skin issues. Getting up and exercising throughout the day — even if only for a moment — can help.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. We’ve all heard it: What you eat and drink impacts your complexion. That goes for your peach’s complexion, too! Be sure to drink plenty of water and limit the amount of dairy, high-carb and sugary foods you eat every day. 
  • Keep it cotton. Everybody loves a good pair of “funderwear,” but if you’re trying to keep your derrière clear of pimples, plain old cotton underpants are the way to go. If you can’t stand the thought of plain panties, opt for breathable fabrics and avoid thongs.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Friction isn’t your friend when it comes to butt acne. So set aside the yoga pants and skinny jeans in favor of loose, breathable clothes.
  • No pimple popping! Popping pimples may be satisfying, but it’s also a bad idea. Remember, chances are you’re not dealing with a run-of-the-mill zit (not that you should pop those either). If you have folliculitis or a carbuncle, you might cause the infection to spread or worsen. Still worse, you could pass it on to somebody else.

Questions your doctor might ask

If you decide to see a healthcare provider about your butt bumps, be prepared to answer the following questions to the best of your availability:

  • How long has this been going on?
  • Is this the only location where you’re having this issue? Do you get it anywhere else?
  • Is there anything that makes it better or worse?
  • Do you wear tight-fitting clothing?
  • How active (or inactive) are you?
  • Do you sweat a lot in that area?

These questions will help your doctor figure out what the right diagnosis is and how to go about treating you.

The bottom line

If you like smooth butts (and you cannot lie), “buttne” can be a real buzzkill. While you can’t avoid the conditions that cause butt blemishes entirely, simple adjustments to your daily routine can go a long way in protecting your posterior.

9 Natural Treatments to Combat Butt Acne (Pimples)

Most people can get rid of butt acne with the right hygiene practices and certain home remedies. But if your symptoms get worse, spread, turn into a boil, or if your immune system isn’t strong, you may need treatment from a doctor.

Acne can be uncomfortable no matter where it forms on your body. And unfortunately, your butt isn’t immune to those troublesome red bumps.

Butt acne is slightly different from facial acne, both in what causes it and how it’s treated.

Here are nine natural treatments to help folliculitis or butt acne.

One of the best ways to prevent butt acne is to bathe regularly with a high quality antibacterial soap. If you’re prone to acne on your behind, you may find washing your skin once in the morning and once in the evening helps reduce pimples by clearing away dirt and bacteria buildup from sweat.

“Normally, bacteria sits on the skin, but tight-fitting clothing can rub the bacteria back down into the pores, causing breakouts,” said Dr. David E. Bank, a board certified dermatologist, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, and founder and director of The Center For Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mt. Kisco, New York.

You might consider taking a break from spandex or skinny jeans in favor of looser and more breathable bottoms. Choose clothing, especially underwear, made from natural cotton if you can. Underwear made from bamboo is also absorbent.

Sitting on a warm washcloth may be soothing, help open pores, and draw out some of the bacteria and pus.

Wet a washcloth with water that’s warm but not too hot. Gently place the damp cloth over the area on your butt that’s having an outbreak of pimples. You could also take a warm bath or use a sitz bath.

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of an Australian tree. It’s been used to treat different skin infections and wounds for many years. Dr. Bank recommends tea tree oil as an option because it has antibacterial properties.

Studies have found that tea tree oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help treat acne. A small 2017 study found that applying tea tree oil to the face for 12 weeks significantly improved mild to moderate acne with no serious side effects.

No studies have specifically measured the effectiveness of tea tree oil for butt pimples.

Some people’s skin can be sensitive to different fabrics or laundry products. That’s why most brands of laundry detergent have a hypoallergenic version.

If you suspect that a detergent, fabric softener, or type of dryer sheet may be causing you issues, you may benefit from switching to something without dyes or skipping certain products altogether.

“Another remedy is to avoid using fabric softeners in the dryer because the fibers left on your underwear can further irritate the skin,” Dr. Bank said.

A 2020 review of studies found that people with acne have significantly lower levels of zinc in their blood than people without acne.

The researchers found that people with low zinc levels treated with zinc showed improvements in inflammatory papule count. Oral zinc is more effective in treating acne, as is niacinamide. Taking a daily probiotic helps, too.

But despite being a promising treatment option, there’s still a lack of definitive evidence that zinc is effective for treating acne. Clinical trials are continuing to examine its effectiveness.

Leaving the sweat and dirt on your skin after a workout can be a big contributor to butt acne and pimples. Make sure you hop in the shower as soon as possible after a sweat session. If you’re wearing tight workout pants, showering is especially important.

You’ll also want to make sure to wash workout clothes after each use. If you can’t get to a shower right away, use a body wipe or facial cleansing cloth.

Using a luffa, also known as a loofah, or a mild exfoliating wash helps get rid of dead skin cells and dirt that could contribute to clogged follicles and infection. Don’t overdo it, as over-exfoliating can cause abrasions on the skin.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends treating a type of skin condition that causes rough bumps called keratosis pilaris by gently exfoliating with a loofah, buff puff, or rough washcloth.

Pimples develop when a skin pore becomes infected, leading to redness and pus. Salt water has antimicrobial properties, so in theory, treating your skin with salt water may reduce the development of pimples.

Some people anecdotally report salt water helps treat their butt pimples, although there’s no research examining this yet.

If you want to use salt water, you can try mixing about 1 teaspoon of table salt with 2 cups of water and applying the solution with a washcloth to your acne.

It’s important to avoid popping pimples. Popping pimples can lead to scarring. It can also allow bacteria into the wound, which puts you at risk of developing an infection. Likewise, it’s also a good idea to avoid irritating pimples by picking at them.

If you exfoliate the skin on your butt, it’s best to avoid the temptation to scrub your skin. Scrubbing can lead to increased irritation.

It’s also a good idea to avoid using medications designed to treat acne on your face unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Many medications for facial acne aren’t effective at treating pimples on your butt because they have different underlying causes.

If pimples don’t go away on their own, over-the-counter (OTC) treatments like creams, body wash, or lotions that contain benzoyl peroxide might help. If OTC treatments aren’t effective, a doctor can prescribe:

  • oral antibiotics
  • isotretinoin
  • topical retinoids
  • glycolic acid and salicylic acid

Carbuncles and boils affect the deeper layers of your skin. To treat them, your doctor may prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic. Your doctor may need to pierce a carbuncle and drain it.

A breakout in your face is usually caused by the condition acne vulgaris. But pimples on your butt are often caused by infected hair follicles — a condition called folliculitis.


Folliculitis is usually caused when the Staphylococcus aureus, or staph bacteria, infects a hair follicle. Normally staph bacteria live on your skin without causing problems, but when they get inside through a break in the skin, it results in infection. Folliculitis leads to red bumps and pus.

Sweating and chafing from your underwear and clothes can contribute to the development of folliculitis, especially if you wear tight clothing. Folliculitis can also be caused by shaving.

Boils and carbuncles

A boil is a pus-filled infection of your hair follicle in the deep layers of your skin that tends to be swollen and tender. They commonly occur around your:

  • groin
  • buttocks
  • waist
  • under your arms

Boils that drain are a sign of a more serious condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, which can lead to scarring, so seek a dermatologist sooner than later.

Carbuncles are clusters of boils that can cause more severe infections. They can also cause fever, chills, or other general feelings of unwellness.

Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a common condition that causes rough bumps due to dead skin cells clogging your hair follicles. It’s also called “chicken skin” because affected skin can mimic the skin of a plucked chicken.

The exact cause isn’t known, but it’s associated with some conditions like atopic dermatitis.It’s also associated with very dry skin. It can be treated with exfoliants to make the skin smooth and approve its appearance, but there’s no cure.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an irritation that occurs when your skin comes into an irritating substance. It can cause redness, itchiness, or blisters. Substances that may cause contact dermatitis on your butt include:

  • soaps and gels
  • lotions
  • detergents
  • certain fabrics

Most people will be able to get relief from these natural treatments. But if folliculitis gets worse, spreads, or turns into a boil, or if your immune system isn’t strong, you may need treatment from a doctor.

“If you have boils, you may have to seek the help of your dermatologist, depending on the severity of the outbreak,” Dr. Bank says.

“If the outbreak is extremely severe, they may have you on an oral antibiotic to fight the infection internally. Your dermatologist may also have to drain the boil, so all the pus is safely removed from the infected area.”

what to do about them and how to avoid them

If acne on the face is a story that we seem to be able to cope with quite successfully (and no, it’s not about squeezing), then acne on the buttocks may not be the most pleasant surprise. Why do they appear? What to do so that they disappear as soon as possible and never appear there? Let’s figure it out together.



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Let’s say right away that pimples on the buttocks are not at all the pimples that appear on the face. This is not acne in the direct sense of the word, but rather one of the forms of folliculitis – inflammation of the hair follicles. Yes, there are also hair follicles on the skin of the buttocks, and under the influence of an infection, they can become inflamed. As a result, a thickening occurs at the site of inflammation, and sometimes suppuration. Pimples on the pope can itch and hurt, and in any case, this is not at all what you would like to see there.

Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.

By the way, pimples on the buttocks have their own name – buttne (it’s a hybrid of the words acne – “acne” and “butt” – “buttock”). And what is happening? For some reason, bacteria begin to multiply more strongly, the hair follicle becomes inflamed, acne appears. Some of them are quite harmless (and you can deal with them yourself), while others pose a serious danger and they must be cured (and as soon as possible).

6 reasons that cause acne on the buttocks

However, hormones are not always to blame. We have collected the 5 most common causes that cause acne on your buttocks.

  1. Hormones. Pimples may be due to hormones, not due to infection. In some phases of the cycle, for example, shortly before the onset of menstruation, the tissue and structure of the hair follicles may change. This causes clogging of pores and – as a result – acne. Blame for this, rather, androgens.
  2. Sweating. It is possible that you sweat a lot – in the gym or public transport on the way to work. If there is no opportunity to take a shower, then the following happens: sweat dries on the surface of the skin along with dust and dirt – an ideal breeding ground for bacteria!
  3. Sedentary lifestyle. Staying in the same position for a long time – sitting – can provoke a situation in which the chances of acne will increase. If you know such a feature behind yourself, then take breaks – get up and walk. By the way, this is an excellent prevention not only of buttne, but also of dead buttocks syndrome, which is especially common among office workers.
  4. Infrequent change of underwear. We are sure that everything is fine with your hygiene, but just know that stale underwear – and there is sweat, and dirt, and bacteria, which is constantly in contact with your body, can cause acne on the pope with a high probability.
  5. Too tight clothing. If your clothes are too small or just made of dense fabric with rough seams, then there is a high chance that it will rub against the skin and injure it along with the hair follicles. A particular danger here is associated with skinny jeans and leggings – be careful with such clothes.
  6. Wet clothes. This reason is rather more relevant for summer days, but you need to know about it. If you stay in a wet bathing suit for a long time after water procedures, then know that this creates ideal conditions for the appearance of acne on your buttocks.


What should be done to prevent pimples on the buttocks from appearing, and how to get rid of those that already exist?

On the one hand, if you fight against the above reasons, then the chances of acne on the pope will be close to zero. On the other hand, you need to know what to do if they have already appeared. Here are a few ways to help deal with the problem.

  • Don’t forget to shower right after your workout. This will wash away all the sweat and prevent bacteria from multiplying.
  • Try acne products. You may be suitable for those based on benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient fights both acne and folliculitis. The funds are available in the form of ointments, creams and lotions – consult a specialist before buying.
  • Don’t forget to moisturize. If the skin is not sufficiently hydrated, it begins to dry, and this leads to the fact that acne appears on it, as well as cracks and other damage. In general, a moisturizing lotion will suit you.
  • Use salicylic acid. It is one of the important ingredients in many acne remedies, and if so, why not use it to save yourself from acne on the butt?
  • Careful shaving. Yes, you can choose to shave for epilation of the entire body, including the buttocks. But do it right: shave where your hair grows, and use shaving cream or lotion.
  • Consult your doctor. If acne on the butt hurts a lot and does not look like something that can be easily dealt with at home, it is better to show the problem to a specialist rather than self-medicate. It is better to contact him – a dermatologist or a cosmetologist – if the problem of acne on the buttocks occurs very often. It will help you figure out why.

Photo: Getty Images

Acne on the buttocks: diagnosis, treatment, prevention

Diagnosis and treatment of acne on the buttocks in the clinic and at home

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Pimples on the buttocks are skin rashes that appear due to disorders in the sebaceous glands. The process may show signs of inflammation. Then the formations increase in size and become painful, the code around them turns red.

The appearance of pimples in this part of the body in men and women occurs for different reasons. The instability of the hormonal background makes the female sweat and sebaceous glands work more actively, sebum and sweat serve as a breeding ground for microorganisms that trigger the inflammatory process.

Causes of pimples

The buttocks area has a thick fat layer, the skin here is quite strong, it is able to withstand significant loads. But here rashes of a purulent-necrotic or infectious nature may appear. The main causes of acne on the buttocks are:

  • Sedentary lifestyle. With a long sitting, the circulation in the lower extremities is disturbed, tissue ischemia develops. Due to constant pressure, they are injured, resulting in purulent rashes;
  • Dry skin. A decrease in the protective function leads to inflammation, and due to stagnation of blood in this area, localization of toxins occurs;
  • Violations in the self-cleansing function of the skin. If the dead particles of the epithelium are not removed for a long time, they clog the pores and ducts of the glands;
  • Endocrine disruption, changes in estrogen levels in women and androgens in men;
  • Increased perspiration, especially in hot weather. Excessive sweating causes clogged pores and creates a barrier to oxygen entry.

Often, acne on the buttocks is a manifestation of an allergic reaction to cosmetics or a consequence of hypothermia. To avoid this situation, you should use proven cosmetics and do not sit on cold surfaces.

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How to avoid breakouts?

When pimples appear in the buttocks, you need to reconsider your diet. Toxins that enter the body with harmful products may well cause rashes. Spicy and fatty foods are the most dangerous in this regard.

You have to pay attention to your wardrobe. Tight clothing makes it difficult for air to reach the skin of the thighs, and synthetics often cause allergic reactions, including acne. If these measures do not give the desired result, you need to contact a dermatologist.


Furunculosis deserves special attention – purulent rashes on the buttocks. In this case, pus accumulates at the root of the hair follicle. This process develops due to:

  • Hypothermia;
  • Violations of hygiene rules;
  • Stress and nervous exhaustion;
  • Body intoxication.

Furunculosis has several stages of development. First, streptococci or staphylococci enter the sebaceous gland, clogged with opportunistic microorganisms. Because of this, inflammation begins: a small red spot appears, inside which a seal occurs over time. At the same time, pain and itching are felt, and the site of the lesion gradually increases.

Further, a purulent core is formed, a white dot appears on the surface of the pimple. The last stage is the opening of the boil and the outflow of pus. The remaining wound gradually heals. Here it is important to ensure the complete removal of pus and prevent secondary infection with the fungus. If the boil grows, the inflammation intensifies and the general condition worsens, it is urgent to consult a doctor. Such abscesses are opened surgically on an outpatient basis.