What to Do About Butt Acne: Causes, Treatments, and More

Medically Reviewed By Bukky Aremu, APRN
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Many people may get blemishes on their buttocks that look like acne. However, blemishes on the buttocks can sometimes have other causes, including other skin conditions. Skin conditions that can cause butt acne include keratosis pilaris and folliculitis. Treatment for these conditions may help clear and prevent blemishes on the buttocks.

Keratosis pilaris is a harmless skin condition. It is the result of a buildup of keratin, a skin protein, that can sometimes block the hair follicle. It causes small bumps that can look like acne.

Folliculitis refers to inflammation of a hair follicle, including as a result of acne, although it can have other causes.

This article will explain the causes of acne-like blemishes on the butt, treatment, home remedies, and more.

What is butt acne?

Image of the back of a female standing with her hands on her buttocks
Clique Images/Stocksy United

Acne is a skin condition that refers to clogged pores. Pores become clogged when excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria block the inside of the pores. This can cause irritation and inflammation that produces flushed or raised spots on the skin.

Acne is a highly common skin condition that affects up to 80% of people aged between 11 and 30 years.

Acne most often affects body sites that have a lot of oil glands. These sites include the:

  • face
  • neck
  • chest
  • shoulders
  • upper back

The skin of the buttocks does not have a lot of oil glands, so true acne on the buttocks is less common. While it is possible to get acne on your butt, the acne-like bumps you may notice there are typically due to other causes.

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What causes butt acne?

The pimples or blemishes that appear on the butt are most likely folliculitis or keratosis pilaris.

Contact dermatitis or carbuncles are other possible causes of a breakout on your butt.

Because there can be several causes of butt acne, contact a dermatologist if you have blemishes on your buttocks to determine the exact cause and allow optimal treatment.

Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a very common condition.

It can resemble acne as it can cause small flushed bumps on the skin. It is typical in childhood through to young adulthood. Experts note that keratosis pilaris affects 50–70% of adolescents and 40% of adults.

Keratosis pilaris occurs due to a protein called keratin accumulating in the hair follicles, and dead skin cells plugging the pores.

Experts are not yet completely sure about know what causes this condition. However, they note that keratosis pilaris may run in families.

Keratosis pilaris typically appears as bumps on your arms, thighs, or buttocks. However, they can also appear on other parts of your body. These bumps are generally the same color as your skin. They can also appear as red bumps on light skin or brownish-black bumps on dark skin.

Folliculitis

Folliculitis refers to a common skin infection in hair follicles.

Folliculitis typically appears like an acne breakout. However, the red ring around the bumps is a sign of the infection. It is generally the result of damage to the hair follicles. After damage occurs, it is easier for germs to get inside them and then cause an infection.

Common ways to cause damage to your hair follicles include:

  • rubbing your skin frequently
  • wearing tight clothing
  • skin rubbing against skin
  • shaving

Spending time in a hot tub is also a common cause of folliculitis. Many people notice a breakout within 24–48 hours of using a hot tub.

Carbuncles

Carbuncles are a group of boils with more than one head. Since carbuncles are the result of an infection of the hair follicle that spreads to the surrounding skin and tissue, they are often contagious.

A boil is a form of bacterial folliculitis. It typically appears as a single or multiple tender spots, lumps, or pustules. They are often red in color but this can depend on your skin tone.

Carbuncles are a fairly common condition. They are most common in young to middle-aged adult males.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when you come into contact with a substance and your skin reacts to it.

There are two main types of contact dermatitis.

  • Irritant: This type accounts for around 80% of all cases of contact dermatitis. It does not involve a full allergic reaction. Irritant contact dermatitis is the result of damage to your skin after coming in contact with an irritating substance.
  • Allergic: This type is a delayed reaction that occurs 1–2 days after your skin comes into contact with an allergen. One common example of this is poison ivy rash.

Contact dermatitis presents as a rash that is irritated. On light skin, it may appear red, and on dark skin, it may appear dark brown, purple, or gray.

What are the symptoms of butt acne?

Most butt acne affects the center of each buttock. The symptoms of the breakout can hold clues to the cause of the breakout.

Common symptoms of keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a common cause of pimple-like bumps on the buttocks. It can also affect the upper arms and thighs.

Common symptoms of keratosis pilaris include:

  • rough, dry skin
  • small, painless, bumps
  • itchy skin

You may find that your keratosis pilaris worsens in the colder seasons and then gets better in the warmer ones.

Common symptoms of folliculitis

Folliculitis often affects the skin on the:

  • buttocks
  • groin
  • thighs
  • face
  • neck
  • underarms

It can happen to anyone. Common symptoms of folliculitis include:

  • small red or white bumps around hair follicles
  • swollen or irritated follicles
  • tenderness, pain, itching, or burning

In some cases, folliculitis can cause pus-filled blisters that open and crust.

Common symptoms of contact dermatitis

Symptoms of contact dermatitis can affect any part of your body. They most commonly appear on your face and hands, however.

Common symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • inflamed or irritated skin
  • blisters
  • dry, thick, or cracked skin

On some occasions, the area with contact dermatitis will become infected.

Signs of infection include:

  • symptoms that get worse quickly
  • discharge in the affected area
  • increased pain
  • a general feeling of being unwell
  • feeling hot or having shivers

Contact your doctor if the appearance of pimples on your butt concerns you or if they are painful or look infected. Several conditions can cause pimple-like breakouts on the butt. Getting an accurate diagnosis is important so you can treat it properly.

Click here to read eight things doctors want you to know about acne.

What are the treatments for butt acne?

Butt acne treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Since many of the causes are not actually acne, acne products are not likely to work. In fact, they may make it worse. If you are not sure of the cause, contact your doctor for help developing a treatment plan.

Keratosis pilaris

If it is the result of keratosis pilaris, you most likely have similar bumps on the back of the upper arms or thighs. Moisturizing the affected areas right after showering can help soften the skin.

An exfoliant cream containing lactic acid or similar ingredients can encourage the skin to turn over faster and prevent plugged follicles.

For keratosis pilaris, products containing lanolin, glycerin, or petroleum jelly are often effective treatments. Keeping the skin soft can help prevent keratin buildup. Using an over-the-counter exfoliant cream can help encourage skin turnover to keep follicles from clogging.

Look for ingredients such as lactic acid, salicylic acid, urea, alpha hydroxy acid, or adapalene. In some cases, prescription-strength retinoid creams may be necessary.

Other home remedies include the following tips.

  • Avoid harsh cleansers and soaps and vigorous scrubbing or rubbing. Gentle exfoliation and mild cleansers are less irritating to the skin. Remember to pat the skin dry instead of rubbing it.
  • Bathe with warm water for the shortest time possible. Long showers or baths and hot water can dry out the skin, making keratosis pilaris worse.
  • Use a humidifier during the dry winter months.
  • Wear loose clothing to avoid friction.

Folliculitis

For folliculitis, it is important to avoid whatever is causing the breakout. This may include:

  • wearing loose clothing instead of tight
  • changing out of wet or damp clothing immediately
  • not using hot tubs or whirlpools

Contacting a dermatologist is often helpful to understand what behaviors you may need to change. A dermatologist can also prescribe treatment for any infection that is present. This may include antibiotic creams or lotions.

Other remedies for folliculitis include:

  • applying warm, moist compresses several times per day
  • using soothing, anti-itch lotions
  • using an antibacterial soap or cleanser
  • washing towels and washcloths in hot water and changing them after each use

Because treatment varies depending on the underlying causes, you should contact your doctor about the best way to treat your butt acne.

Summary

Butt acne is typically the result of an underlying condition, such as keratosis pilaris or folliculitis. Occasionally, it is actually acne. However, this is not very common.

Most of the causes of butt acne are treatable. If you are experiencing butt acne, you should contact your doctor so that they can diagnose the underlying condition causing the breakouts.

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Medical Reviewer: Bukky Aremu, APRN
Last Review Date: 2022 May 31
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