Treating Acne on Your Bum
Acne on my bum was never an issue I thought I would have to deal with. Occasionally I would get a pimple or two, but it was never cause for concern.
Unfortunately, once I started working out again (plus starting a full-time desk job probably didn't help), I started getting a lot more bumps on my bum, mostly on one side. While "acne" on the bum isn't necessarily as annoying as acne on the face or upper torso where it's visible to all, it can still be painful and it can still be an annoyance. Regardless, we all want smooth, clear skin - even if it's on our bums.
Is it Acne ... Folliculitis ... or Keratosis Pilaris?
The first thing you need to establish is whether or not the annoying little buggers on your perky cheeks are acne, or folliculitis, or something called keratosis pilaris.
Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles that can appear as small, red bumps, almost rash-like. It is caused by dead skin cells and bacteria or fungus entering the hair follicle and becoming trapped.
Conversely, keratosis pilaris could also be the sinister bumps lurking on your tush. Keratosis pilaris (KP) causes numerous small, rough, tan or red little bumps around hair follicles
Acne, on the other hand, is usually more defined pimples, nodules or cysts and is usually caused by hormonal imbalances and sometimes bacteria.
At the end of the day, the "acne" on your bum is, more often than not - not acne at all - it is usually folliculitis.
Why Do I Have It?
There are several potential reasons for developing "acne"/folliculitis on the bum.
As is the case for me, working out was my trigger. But it wasn't actually the working out that caused the issue, so much as it was the combination of sweat and tight, non-breathable pants. Tight clothing that isn't breathable, like yoga pants, and certain fibers, can all trap sweat and bacteria against the skin, which can cause irritation and clogged pores, leading to pimples. Sweating in and of itself is a good thing - it's great for the skin! However, sweating in gym clothes can again trap that sweat and bacteria right against your body, allowing it to enter the pores.
(Ideal fabrics for working out: bamboo is light, breathable, and moisture-wicking; nylon is soft, mildew-resistant, dries quickly, and wicks sweat away from the body; polyester is durable, lightweight, breathable, and non-absorbent; polypropylene is completely water-resistant and wicks sweat away from the body; spandex (a.k.a. Lycra) is breathable, wicks moisture, and dries quickly.)
Dry skin can also cause bumps on the bum, and this was more of the cause for me when I had the occasional pimple. The skin on the bum is sensitive to lack of moisturizing, and pores on dry skin can easily become clogged. Since your bum is ALWAYS touching clothes, sometimes tight, non-breathable clothes, it is especially prone to irritation and pimples.
In the event that your bum actually does have acne (which is often accompanied by back acne, as well), it is likely caused by hormonal imbalances.
So What Can I Do?
Determining if it's the sweat/clothing issue or a dry skin issue will determine how you handle the situation. Sometimes a simple change in clothing fabric can alleviate the problem, or simply moisturizing the area daily.
However, some bum bumps are a little bit more persistent. Here's what you can do:
1. Make sure you always wash your bum (not that I ever thought you didn't!). Using an anti-bacterial soap can be especially helpful, particularly if you workout regularly and that seems to be the cause. Sometimes switching from a scented soap to a gentler one is all that's needed.
2. Use an acne treatment that has benzoyl peroxide in it. Acne treatments geared for the face can also be used on the bum, and benzoyl peroxide would even be helpful for folliculitis.
3. If workout pimples are the issue, take a look at your clothing fabrics and make sure you change out of them and shower soon after.
4. Use a tea tree oil spray like this one! Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial and can do wonders for acne.
5. Moisturize every single day - twice a day, if possible! Keeping the skin moisturized will keep it healthy and help fight off acne. However, keep in mind that the wrong type of moisturizer could be the issue - pick something lightweight.
6. If you have a job where you sit for long hours, try to get up and walk around periodically.
7. Exfoliate your bum with a mitt like this one (be sure to replace the mitt regularly to prevent bacterial build-up exacerbating the issue).
For more persistent bumps, you may sometimes need a prescription-strength solution, or a hydrocortisone (do not overuse this). For fungal-driven folliculitis, an anti-fungal will help to clear it up. Antibiotics should only be used in cases where it is absolutely necessary.