We tend to associate it with the face or perhaps the back, but bum acne (yes, that acne on bum) is a real thing, too. Affectionately nicknamed buttne in beauty circles, blemishes on the derrière are actually pretty common.
Prevalence aside, we’re guessing you’re here because you aren’t exactly thrilled by this kind of spots. Fortunately enough, Marie Claire’s expert beauty team has access to the expertise of some of the country’s top dermatologists, and has grilled them on everything from the best acne treatments to the different types of acne in a bid to help put your blemish woes to rest – be they on the bum or elsewhere.
Want to banish breakouts on your butt for good? Here’s what you need to know about their causes and triggers, as well as the skincare products that can help to nip them in the bud.
An expert guide on how to get rid of bum acne
What causes acne on your bum?
Unlike other areas of the body, like acne on cheeks or chest acne, for example, what looks like bum acne is very unlikely to actually be… acne. It’s not impossible, but something else is more likely to be causing these pesky spots.
“Blemishes here are often due to friction," cosmetic dermatologist and skincare brand founder Dr Sam Bunting confirms. “They're inflamed follicles, rather than acne; we don't typically see comedones on the buttocks, which are the essential finding in acne." As well as friction, sweat and bacteria can also cause blemishes here – so sitting around in your gym kit after a workout won't help matters.
Another possible explanation for a blemished butt is keratosis pilaris, which appears as patches of little raised bumps on the skin. You've probably heard it be referred to as "chicken skin" and it commonly affects the backs of the arms as well as the thighs and buttocks.
How to treat acne on your bum
Tackling bum blemishes generally requires a similar approach as optimising your body skincare routine for acne. “The principles of treatment are the same for the face and body; skin is skin,” says Dr Bunting. “With the body, you might lean towards more spreadable textures or sprays to tackle larger areas. You might also want to skip benzoyl peroxide as an anti-inflammatory as it bleaches clothing.”
“The focus is anti-inflammatory ingredients to help reduce folliculitis,” she continues. “What’s key is to wear loose workout gear, try to shower immediately after working out, and add salicylic acid into your body cleanser. It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial so it works well.”
It can be tempting to use a physical scrub on body breakouts like bum or back acne, but it's best to avoid these, especially if the spots are inflamed and sore. "Body scrubs are a no-go," confirms Dr Alexis Granite, consultant dermatologist for CeraVe. "Avoid a strong grain and exfoliating gloves, otherwise it could turn worsen spots. A targeted and specially formulated moisturising cream should be part of your routine, too, to add back moisture to the skin."
Acne body washes are a great way to factor exfoliants into your bodycare regime, while salicylic acid can also be found in many of the best body serums, lotions and creams. A targeted formula, like one of the best spot treatments, can also help to reduce particularly sore blemishes.
It's important to stress that, if bum breakouts have been an issue for you for a long time and they don’t seem to be clearing up with the help of over-the-counter skincare products, they're having a significant impact on your mood, or if they're scarring, you should seek the advice of a medical professional. They're best placed to pinpoint what's causing serious breakouts and may prescribe you a stronger treatment to get rid of them. Otherwise, below is a selection of expert-recommended products to shop now.
The best products for bum acne
This cleanser can be used on both the face and body, making it a great match for skin conditions like keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), and body blemishes like bum acne. The all-important ingredient here is salicylic acid, which works to exfoliate and unclog pores.
If ingrown hairs are behind your breakouts, allow us to present this nifty spot treatment. Both deramtologist and gynaecologist tested, this gel-cream formula packs lactic acid, fruit acids and soothing bisabolol to help take down inflammation and dislodge trapped hairs.
A lightweight body lotion that both moisturises and exfoliates, this formula from household name Paula's Choice boasts antioxidants and soothing chamomile flower alongside salicylic acid. It's brilliant for body blemishes, rough skin texture, and conditions like keratosis pilaris.
One of consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto's recommendations, this spray is really easy to use on breakouts on larger areas of the body. As you may have predicted, it contains that key exfoliating ingredient salicylic acid as well as lemongrass oil, which is known for its antibacterial properties.
We love a multipurpose product, and this body wash helps to get rid of blemishes while you shower. Tried, tested and loved by the Marie Claire beauty team, its formula is a triple threat: hydrating, soothing and exfoliating. We're talking a cocktail of salicylic acid, vitamin B, aloe vera and Kakadu plum, all housed in fun peachy pink packaging, naturally.
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Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.