Treatments for bumps and blemishes on the buttocks

I've got pimples on my butt. There, I said it. I know it isn't ingrown hairs - it's simply adult acne. Is there anything I can do about this? Using cleansing pads and facial scrubs to treat the bumps on my buttocks doesn't really make sense, yet to my knowledge no skincare product exists specifically for this.


M, 33, New York

I had buttne in my early teens. The cause of my buttne was a combination of underwear that had been washed in the washing machine with extremely dirty doormats and detergent that I was allergic to. My buttne was gone when the detergent was changed and when the family maid stopped putting the doormats in the washing machine. Make sure that your undergarments hadn't been swimming somewhere dirty before you wear them. This post reminded me of the scars from my buttne, though. I successfully faded the acne scars on my face weeks ago using All Purpose Hydroquinone Cream, and now I'm thinking of using it to fade my buttne scars as well. Thanks for the reminder.

Good afternoon, 

There is no reason to be bashful about a concern such as this, we hear this type of complaint quite often. 

Depending on the diagnosis (acne, pseudofolliculitis, keratosis pilaris, etc.), differing therapies may be recommended. Red and/or tender pustules or bumps could be acne, whereas small red bumps with or without rough white tops may be keratosis pilaris (KP).

Various acne therapies that can be prescribed by a board certified dermatologist that may be best for this body area are topical benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, and tazarotene. In general, patients can have success with topical lotions containing alpha and/or beta hydroxy acids such as lactic acid or glycolic acid. An over the counter option, like AmLactin, which contains lactic acid may help to smooth and moisturize skin and prevent the bumps. Prescription topicals are also available and vary depending on physician preferences and patient sensitivities. 

For harder to treat cases that may involve scarring or dark marks, we use chemical peels to treat and improve the more unique skin areas that others may not have realized could have been done in the past. When patients think of chemical peels they often assume they are only applicable to the face to treat and improve skin tone, texture, dark marks, and acne, but we often treat the back, chest, bikini areas, back of the thighs, and more. 

I would suggest that your first step should be having a candid discussion with your board certified dermatologist, and don't be shy to share your concerns with a provider when they truly do bother you!

As always, wear sunscreen and best of luck to you.


Jeanine Downie, MD

I know how it feels to have acne in an embarrassing place! I struggled with it for years. If you haven't visited a dermatologist for it, then I would likely do that first. There are other skin problems that can look like acne and making sure it is truly acne will let you know that you are treating it properly. 

If you find out that it truly is acne, then it can be treated just like acne on your face. I had to try a few acne treatments before I found something that worked for mine. Ditch the scrubs, because those can aggravate acne-prone skin and even damage it. 

Instead, first make sure you are not using any products in the shower that are clogging your pores "down there." If you use bar soap, then switch to a clear body wash that won't leave residue behind. Also, if you use hair conditioner, make sure to use it before you wash your bottom, so you can wash off any residue it leaves on it. 

Then, you can try applying acne treatments after you shower and dry off. I had good luck with a 5-percent benzoyl peroxide cream, although you have to be careful with it, because it can lighten clothing; always wear thick underwear after you put it on to avoid ruining any pants you wear. 

If that doesn't work for you after a few weeks, then you can try using a salicylic acid product that unclogs the pores instead or layer it under the benzoyl peroxide cream. If a few weeks of either treatment doesn't work, then your dermatologist can likely prescribe a stronger anti-acne cream, like Tretinoin, to help you get rid of it. Good luck! 

Sometimes acne or blemishes on the buttocks will just go away on their own, but if they don’t, there are a few treatments that can help. As you mentioned, acne outbreaks on the buttocks are caused by different things than acne on the face or other parts of the body. Usually, your dermatologist will give you an antibacterial wash or an antibiotic cream. They may also give you an oral antibiotic or a medical with anti-fungal ingredients, but those are a lot less common.

If you have carbuncles, you may need a different type of treatment. Carbuncles feel like knots, not just regular acne or blemishes. Carbuncles are deep, which is why the treatment is more intense. For this, your dermatologist may need to give you an oral antibiotic because there’s an infection to fight. Sometimes, your doctor will also need to drain the blemish of the pus. Make sure your doctor does this - you can make things a lot worse if you try to do this on your own.

If you want to prevent blemishes on your buttocks, wear loose clothing and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Usually, staying in good health is the best defense against blemishes on the buttocks. Also, if you notice a blemish, try to visit your doctor right away so it doesn’t turn into a carbuncle.

Start treatment with a body wash that contains benzoyl peroxide. You can also wipe your bum down with a cleansing pad that contains salicylic acid. While these pads are typically sold for facial application, they're just as effective at keeping other patches of skin clean. Also make sure that you're taking a shower after workout sessions or any activity that results in sweat. If you notice that your buttocks are starting to get dried out, you can apply a moisturizing lotion.

What you're experiencing is technically called folliculitis, but many people just refer to it as "buttne." It's more common than you may think, and you're more prone to the development of pimples all over the body if you exercise and get sweaty on a regular basis. When dead skin cells, bacteria and other debris get clogged in the hair follicles, small pimples are the result.