Random Q: How Do I Get Rid of Acne... on My Butt?

We asked a derm so you don't have to

(Photo: Getty Images)

Welcome to the second instalment of our new beauty series, Random Q, where we consult an expert to help you solve your somewhat embarrassing beauty queries. This time, it’s all about a problem that affects 10 to 15 percent of the population: breakouts in the butt area. And the first piece of important information? Those breakouts aren’t actually zits.

“‘Bum acne’ is actually not acne at all but folliculitis,” says Dr. Julia Carroll, a dermatologist at Compass Dermatology in Toronto. “That’s inflammation around the hair follicles that can affect just the surface or deeper down as well.”

According to Dr. Carroll, folliculitis on your rear is often caused by bacteria that collects around the hair follicle area, and ingrown hairs can cause it, too. If you’re a cyclist or a rower, or involved in any kind of exercise that keeps you in sweaty workout gear for long sessions and causes friction, you might be more prone to it.

But stopping that folliculitis before it starts is relatively simple. Get out of that sweaty workout wear ASAP, always wash those clothes thoroughly, and use an antibacterial soap followed by a gentle exfoliator to wash your cheeks. Laser hair removal can do the trick, as well, by helping to prevent ingrowns.

If you’ve done your best to prevent folliculitis on your butt and you’re still getting those little whiteheads, there are products that can help. “Salicylic or glycolic acid can help smooth the area,” says Dr. Carroll. And, as with any kind of skin condition, if the problem persists, make an appointment with your derm to get it checked out.

If you have a Random Question, send it to and we’ll tap an expert for the answer!


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