How to Get Rid of Body Acne



Our intrepid advice columnist is on maternity leave. Here is a question she answered before her new baby, Ezra’s was born, in preparation for time off with her young ones. Applause, please.
Oh wise Amy, please dear god post this anonymously…
I am 40 years old. I don’t live in a pig sty. I use (on your advice!) Philosophy products on my rather oily skin. I shower daily (sometimes more! like when I work out). I don’t sit in puddles of bacon fat. I don’t spend all day on the couch in sweaty sweatpants (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just don’t do it, because I have to go to work). But I have
wait for it
pimples on my butt. Yes, that’s right, I have butt pimples. And I don’t know what to do. I tell my kids they’ll get “rumpy rash” if they sit around in their wet bathing suits in the summer, and that’s what I call my butt zits, but I know the dirty truth. They are BUTT PIMPLES! The horror!
I have been putting benzoyl peroxide on them because that’s what I do on my face if I break out (my mom, who is 67, will still sometimes ask me if I have any Oxy around when she is staying at my house, just to give you a sense of the genetics I inherited). Actually, I slather it all over my butt in the a.m. and the p.m. but it is not working. I wear cotton undies. See hygiene details above.
Help. HELP. HELP!!!!!
-your butt pimpled and mortified loyal reader

Butt pimples! Dude, it happens to the best of us, believe me. Pimples on your butt, thighs, back, chest…ugh. Just…awesome.
So. A couple things.
neutrogena%20body%20clear.jpg1) Find an anti-acne body wash or soap and use it on (ahem) the affected area daily. Twice a day, if you can. Neutrogena makes one with salicylic acid that I’ve used with a lot of success — their Body Clear Body Wash. At 2% salicylic acid, it might not be strong enough to be your personal one-stop solution, but considering it is only $6, it’s worth a try before you move on to more dramatic measures.
2) Purge your existing regimen of artificial fragrance. Soaps, lotions, laundry detergent. Body acne can be a side effect of old-fashioned skin inflammation, so switch to fragrance-free, hypoallergenic skin products (this would not include the Neutrogena wash, by the way, which MADDENINGLY contains fragrance, argh) and a dye- AND fragrance-free laundry detergent for your undies and sheets and anything with any direct butt-contact.
3) See a dermatologist. I was tempted to put this as number one, for you in particular, since your problem sounds terribly persistent and if it’s resisting BENZOYL PEROXIDE that does suggest acne that will simply laugh in the face of an over-the-counter body wash or a new laundry detergent. It may need a prescription-strength acne cream (think 10% glycolic acid or Retin-A or a cortisone treatment). It could also possibly be staph or folliculitis, which require topical medications or antibiotics.
MOST body acne can be treated the same way facial acne is treated — washing the area twice a day with a gentle cleanser and applying some product with one of the common acne-fighting acids (salicylic, glycolic), and keeping a constant look out for irritating ingredients in everything else you use (detergent, unnatural fibers, lotions, etc.). If you’ve done all that and the problem remains, then it’s time to see a doctor, regardless of what body part we’re talking about here. Acne should never be ignored! Butts are people too!


About the author

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

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Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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18 Responses to “How to Get Rid of Body Acne”

  1. Darcey Nov 20 at 10:52 am Reply Reply

    My bit of advice – as I’ve experienced *shudder* “backne” for years – be careful what types of topical treatments you use. I was using one (I don’t remember which brand or what solution it used), and would slather it all over my upper back and shoulders – wherever I was getting the grossness – and it was working great! And then I went to wash my light blue sheets…. and wondered how the hell I got bleach all over my sheets?!?! And my favorite green shirt!?!
    Yeah, some of those ointment-type-stuffs can bleach your clothes. So if you’re partial to any of the cotton undies you’ve been wearing, well, just a warning.

  2. sarah Nov 20 at 11:21 am Reply Reply

    i too suffer from butt zits. they are the worst! sometimes making sitting painful! augh. i have never discovered the cure. i’ve had acne on my face since i was 9, and i’m now 23… it’s not as bad as it used to be, but the dermatologist said accutane was the most likely to work solution. i didn’t really want to feel like dying while having red, dried out skin so i opted out.
    all this to say, i don’t think the detergent will work because if your butt looks anything like mine, it’s not an allergic reaction (GAH I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M WRITING ABOUT ASS ZITS). report back if something works, i wanna know

  3. stacy Nov 20 at 11:33 am Reply Reply

    I have also heard that workout clothes and possibly underwear should be washed in hot water to help kill bacteria … just a thought to try.

  4. anonima Nov 20 at 11:41 am Reply Reply

    HA! When I first came upon the Smackdown, this is the exact question I considered asking. Because what’s more fun that talking about my ass.
    I used to get frequent, big, painful butt pimples. This advice is pretty much in line with what the rest of the Internet has to say. I never made it to a dermatologist, but nothing I tried seemed very effective. I also had fine hygiene, wore cotton panties, etc. Oddly- and I could theorize, but really I am at a loss to explain why this would be- I experienced a decrease in asscne which coincided with weight loss. I still have plenty’o’bum, but having slightly less of it seems to have done.. something. It is probably completely coincidental, but I thought I’d throw a crackpot anecdote into the mix just in case somebody else had the same thing happen.
    At any rate, I wanted to chime in and let the reader know she’s not alone, or gross. This is just a tough issue to resolve.

  5. Jasmine Nov 20 at 11:53 am Reply Reply

    Any that I had came from friction and sitting on ‘hot spots’ (no pun intended), I mean places which have heated up to an extent. Like the sun-baked seat next to the window in the car.
    Sorry but – could it be enlarged pores? or something hormone-related? My sister has severe cystic acne … on her face, chest, shoulders and back. It could be just sweat and sebum buildup ..?
    (I am really not very helpful here…)
    How about exfoliating the area more often?

  6. Anonymous This Time Nov 20 at 12:24 pm Reply Reply

    OK, I usually brandish my name and website up there, but really, who wants to admit to butt pimples, right? I had a maddening and persistent case several years ago that turned out to be staph. Get ye to a dermatologist right away. Can’t hurt, might help.

  7. Jae Nov 20 at 12:55 pm Reply Reply

    Maybe my butt bumps were a different variety of problem but I recently started using lotion with lactic acid in it and have noticed a big difference in the, um, texture of my butt skin.
    I’ve been using AmLactin and have been having really good luck.

  8. Anonymous Nov 20 at 1:04 pm Reply Reply

    Because I agree…Who wants to admit to ASSNE?
    I went to the dermatologist and she gave me a was that includes sulfur. Smells funny but has definitely helped with the little red pimples…
    On a grosser note, I, too, get the giant ass pimples that hurt, and while they haven’t completely gone away since the sulfur wash, it has made them much less common.
    I agree…get thee to a dermatologist!

  9. R. Nov 20 at 1:16 pm Reply Reply

    Hi! A close friend thought she had this as well, and tried (unsuccesfully) to treat it with BP as well. She ended up visiting her derm, and he diagnosed Keratosis Pilaris (that “chicken skin” thing that some women get on the back of their arms). Apparently, sitting around in her sweats after workouts caused them to become infected (so you’re right about not lounging around in them) and mimic acne. He told her to use AmLactin, and it cleared up in a few weeks. Hope this helps!

  10. Anon Nov 20 at 3:01 pm Reply Reply

    I was plagued by ASS-NE for years. Like you, I thought it was a hygiene issue and washed washed washed. Then I started getting the same bumps under my arms and – SHUDDER – on my boobs. Turns out that it’s something called Hidradenitis Suppurativa. I now apply a topical antibiotic lotion every day to my ass and the issue is over. But hoo buddy – if I miss a day or two – it’s right back. SEE A DERMATOLOGIST!!!

  11. Wallydraigle Nov 20 at 4:05 pm Reply Reply

    I have one more suggestion. Stop using fabric softener except on things that really need to be 100% static free. I stopped using it and instead use 1/4 to 1/2 cu. of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Clothes comes out sweet-smelling, soft, and with just a tiny bit of static that seems to go away once clothes are hung/folded and put away. And there’s no weird residue anymore.
    I stopped using it, and my face, back and shoulders improved dramatically. Very few facial zits and none on my body. Same for my husband. Now I can’t stand the feel of clothes that have been dried with softener. And our wallets thank us, too.

  12. Anonymous Nov 20 at 8:48 pm Reply Reply

    If it is keratosis pilaris or “chicken skin” this might help.
    I occasionally get bumps on my elbows and yes…butt and for a while thought it was acne as well. Exfoliated fairly aggressively and using this lotion helps dramatically. Not sure if that’s the problem, but thought I’d chime in.

  13. KM Nov 21 at 9:55 am Reply Reply

    If they are really big, and hurt when you sit, they might be boils. I should know – had two, last year, one right after Christmas on one cheek and then another a month and a half later – you guessed it, in exactly the same spot on the other cheek. Boils, and pimples, are infections too – just much deeper in the subcutaneous skin layers. But they feel like the biggest, most painful zits ever – like every nerve ending is attached to them. I didn’t get them lanced, because – yikes – but I used Boil Ease, heat and antibitoic cream – and some patience. And now? I exfoliate the entire bum-area with that Neutrogena Body Clear shower gel and put toner on it every day. Fingers crossed – none since. I’ve heard that you should treat your entire derrierre like your face – make sure to clean the whole thing, not just the usual bits.

  14. Anonymous Nov 23 at 4:02 pm Reply Reply

    Anonymous like everyone else. I’ve had similar problems, and after going through lots of anti-acne products (with consultation from a derm), the solution was Dial anti-bacterial body wash with a good loofah. Maybe this is similar to the commenter who said it was staph? I don’t know. But in my case it was definitely a bacterial infection.

  15. Rachel Nov 24 at 12:59 pm Reply Reply

    I would echo that AmLactin is the ultimate anihilator of all crazy skin bumps. You can get it in the beauty aisle at Walgreens. It’s amazing!

  16. Justine Feb 19 at 3:57 pm Reply Reply

    Ass or butt zits/boils really come down to two things:
    1) Lack of air circulation. If you are sitting for long periods or wearing tight clothing. That dark space combined with moisture is ripe for your follicle pours not being able to breath properly. As a result, a pustule forms and becomes inflamed.
    2) Ingrown hairs, resulting in the same process as above.
    What to for prevention?
    **If you are sitting for a long time, get one of those wooden bead covers like the cabbies use. They have known about this problem for many decades and have keep this knowledge obscured.
    **Hard surfaces are bad too, stay away from them.
    **Get up a move around.
    **Wash with a body sponge or some other GENTLE exfoliate.
    **For gentlemen wear boxers.
    **For ladies wear something which permits some air circulation, skirts are great.

  17. RFossum Aug 03 at 4:13 am Reply Reply

    oh, the good old bottox pimples :D What a classic
    Hate it, simply hate it… especially if they get large enough to hurt even if you sit down on the softest pillow ever made :D
    Anyway, the best ways I’ve experienced is simply to wash the affected area gently with natural soap or anti-bacterial soap, and in addition using a cleanser system
    Also its on your butt, I also advice to avoid wearing too tight clothes, wear baggy instead to reduce friction as that will irritate the skin, and even make it worse and spread the infection. Wearing tight clothes also cause you to sweat more which also is no good, as it contribute to blocking your pores.
    The more air your skin get, the better :)

  18. k Aug 26 at 5:44 pm Reply Reply

    Mine coincided with a recent 20 lb. Weight loss-hmmmmm-could their be a connection ?

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