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How to Get Rid of Body Acne

By Amalah

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 . 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!


Published November 20, 2008. Last updated November 20, 2008.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


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 Ama...

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.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

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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  • Darcey

    November 20, 2008 at 10:52 am

    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.

  • sarah

    November 20, 2008 at 11:21 am

    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

  • stacy

    November 20, 2008 at 11:33 am

    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.

  • anonima

    November 20, 2008 at 11:41 am

    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.

  • Jasmine

    November 20, 2008 at 11:53 am

    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?

  • Anonymous This Time

    November 20, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    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.

  • Jae

    November 20, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    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.

  • Anonymous

    November 20, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    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!

  • R.

    November 20, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    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!

  • Anon

    November 20, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    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!!!

  • Wallydraigle

    November 20, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    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.

  • Anonymous

    November 20, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    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.

  • KM

    November 21, 2008 at 9:55 am

    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.

  • Anonymous

    November 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    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.

  • Rachel

    November 24, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    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!

  • Justine

    February 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    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.

  • RFossum

    August 3, 2009 at 4:13 am

    oh, the good old bottox pimples 😀 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 😀
    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 🙂

  • k

    August 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

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

  • lydiaswims

    September 12, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Ive used almost everything you could think of to get rid of acne on my back and nothing worked. Even simple body washes didn’t work and seemed to irritate it more. Everyone is different and everyone’s skin is different so I can’t claim that Citrus CLears Control Wash will 100% get rid of everyone’s body acne, but I will say I suffered for about 5 years, tried all sorts of creams and washes and scrubs and nothing worked until I used the Citrus Clear Control Wash. 

  • Brian

    October 13, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Neutrogena salicylic acid wash has been a godsend