Search icon


05th Sep 2021

Bum acne is a real thing – and this is how to deal with it

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Yes, it happens.

Bum acne, it’s a thing we’ve definitely all dealt with but none of us ever talk about.

Unlike any other form of acne, this one can be more difficult to treat as it can often get confused with different, but very common, skin conditions.

But once you know exactly what it is, it’s the easiest thing in the world to manage, and we know exactly how you can get rid of it.

Not only is this form of acne super common, but it’s also completely normal and more times than none, it’s not even real acne.

More than likely, what you deal with on your backside is folliculitis, which is the inflammation of a hair follicle that shows up like a pimple.

topshop jeans

Similar to keratosis pilaris, those little bumps a lot of us get on our arms, folliculitis is painless but is to be treated differently than the acne you would get on your face.

“Acne is defined by having comedones, which are blackheads and whiteheads,” says dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach tells Cosmopolitan. “Folliculitis has a hair in the centre of a red bump, and the white material associated with the bump is often dead skin and white blood cells.”

With folliculitis, you’ll typically have a few small bumps rather than one pimple standing alone.

So how do we treat this? The first rule of thumb, like with regular acne, don’t squeeze or pop the pimples there.

Firstly, use a benzoyl peroxide wash. This kills the bacteria on the skin that cause the bumps and unclogs pores to reduce inflammation. Just massage it into the skin and let it sit for a few seconds before washing it off.

Always exfoliate the skin, but be careful not to scrub it. Use a gentle chemical exfoliator with either alpha-hydroxy acids, like lactic or glycolic acids, or beta-hydroxy acids, like salicylic acid, to reduce the breakout.

Chemical peels can also help instantly, especially ones directly from a dermatologist. They shed the skin overnight and are great if you need to get rid of this fast.

If your bum acne gets particularly bad, ask your doctor about clindamycin lotion which can be prescribed to you and help reduce inflammation, but you do need a doctor’s permission for this one.

Breathable fabrics and making sure you change out of sweaty gym clothes immediately can make a huge difference. Wear cotton underwear rather than nylon and when sweat gets trapped between your skin and the fabric, it can be a huge cause of inflammation.

Wear moisture-wicking fabrics when working out to avoid sweat getting trapped as bacteria seems to love a sweaty bum, and always shower after you’ve been sweating, it makes all the difference.