It’s an all-too-common summer scenario: We slip into a cute bikini or one piece, turn around to check out that peach, and suddenly see a big, honkin’, zit obstruction. It’s butt acne, and it’s annoying AF. (Or so my, uh, friends tell me.)
Sure, pimples can sprout up on our face, but it can be especially frustrating when they show up on your butt. You’d think that area—which never, ever gets to see the light of day and just sits innocently in your underwear 24/7—would be perhaps the only part of your bod that’s exempt from acne. But(t) that just isn’t the case.
One of the main culprits? A healthy—aka sweaty—lifestyle. “In our active culture where staying in our yoga pants all day is the norm, we have a high risk of developing butt acne,” says Janelle Vega, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of BIA Life. “I’d recommend showering and changing as soon as you’re done working out to prevent triggering the condition. If you suffer from it commonly, I’d also try to wear loose-fitting clothes and breathable fabrics so that the hair can exit the follicle without getting disturbed.” Bring on the cotton.
You read that right—Dr. Vega explains that butt acne (or “buttne,” if you wanna be cute) is actually a case of plugged-up follicles. “Butt acne is usually what we call folliculitis,” she tells me. “This can be caused by friction and wearing thongs which can create a plug where the hair comes out—and this subsequently creates inflammation.” Womp womp—and we all know that inflammation can rear its head in an acne-like form. “Another cause of acne in this area is a disorder called hidradenitis suppurative, also known as inverse acne,” says Dr. Vega, adding that this can be influenced by hormone levels, and made worse by smoking or being overweight.
If you have the folliculitis kind, though (which is more common), she recommends being more conscientious when in sweaty workout clothes (BRB—making a mental note!!). And if you’ve got buttne now? Swipe on some topical exfoliants. “Exfoliants keep the follicle from getting clogged with extra debris,” says Dr. Vega, adding that oral and topical antibiotics can treat the bumps and reduce inflammation when there’s a flare-up. Sounds like I (er, my friend) should put the kibosh on that sitting around in a thong-underneath-sweaty-leggings habit.
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