Acne can be uncomfortable no matter where it forms on your body. And unfortunately, your butt isn’t immune to those troublesome red bumps.
Butt acne is a little bit different from facial acne, both in what causes it and how it’s treated.
When acne forms on the butt, it’s because of folliculitis. Folliculitis is usually caused when the Staphylococcus aureus, or staph bacteria, infects a hair follicle. Normally staph bacteria live on your skin without causing problems, but when they get inside through a break in the skin, it results in infection. If the infection gets worse, it can lead to a boil, which can be painful.
Folliculitis bumps look very similar to regular acne. They’re red bumps on the top of your skin that are filled with pus and can be itchy and cause discomfort. In most cases they go away on their own with regular at-home care.
Here are nine natural treatments to help folliculitis or butt acne.
1. Wash regularly
One of the most important ways of preventing infection is to bathe regularly with a good antibacterial soap. If you’re prone to butt acne, a first step may be to wash the skin in the morning and evening. This can help get rid of dirt and bacteria buildup from sweat.
2. Wear loose-fitting clothing
“Normally, bacteria sits on the skin, but tight-fitting clothing can rub the bacteria back down into the pores, causing breakouts,” says Dr. Bank.
You might consider taking a break from spandex or skinny jeans in favor of a looser and more breathable bottom. Choose clothing, especially underwear, made from natural cotton if you can.
3. Sit on a warm washcloth
Wet a washcloth with warm, but not too hot, water. Gently place the damp cloth over the area on your butt that’s having an outbreak of acne. The warmth will be soothing and may help to open pores and draw out some of the bacteria and pus. You could also take a warm bath or use a “sitz bath.”
4. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of a tree in Australia. It’s been used for many years to treat different skin infections and wounds. Studies have shown that it’s effective in killing bacteria and may be almost as effective as benzoyl peroxide for treating acne.
Dr. Bank also recommends tea tree oil as an option because it has antibacterial properties.
5. Avoid fabric softeners
Some people’s skin can be sensitive to different fabrics or laundry products. That’s why most brands of laundry detergent have a hypoallergenic version. If you suspect that detergent, fabric softeners, or dryer sheets may be causing you issues, switch to something without dyes or skip certain products altogether.
“Another remedy is to avoid using fabric softeners in the dryer because the fibers left on your underwear can further irritate the skin,” says Dr. Bank.
6. Use zinc creams
Creams containing the mineral zinc have also been shown to help reduce acne symptoms.
7. Shower after a workout
Leaving the sweat and dirt on your skin after a workout can be a big contributor to butt acne. Make sure you hop in the shower as soon as possible after a sweat session. If you’re wearing tight workout pants, it’s especially important. You’ll also want to make sure to wash workout clothes after each use.
Using a luffa, also known as a loofah, or a mild exfoliating wash helps get rid of dead skin cells and dirt that could contribute to clogged follicles and infection.
9. Salt water solution
Salt water can help to treat mild infections. Mayo Clinic recommends mixing 1 teaspoon of table salt with 2 cups of water and applying the solution with a washcloth to areas with butt acne.
When to seek medical attention
Most people will be able to get relief from these natural treatments. However, if folliculitis gets worse, spreads, or turns into a boil, or if your immune system isn’t strong, you may need treatment from a doctor.
“If you have boils, you may have to seek the help of your dermatologist, depending on the severity of the outbreak. If the outbreak is extremely severe, they may have you on an oral antibiotic to fight the infection internally. Your dermatologist may also have to drain the boil so all the pus is safely removed from the infected area,” says Dr. Bank.