Struggling with how to get rid of butt acne seems like a very private battle—but believe us when we say you’re not alone.
Think of it this way: At one point or another, everyone you’ve ever met, talked to, or seen on TV (celebrities—they’re just like us, in the worst way) has had a butt breakout. Severity is case-by-case—some get real, pus-filled proper butt pimples, for others it’s more of a bumpy red landscape that’s relatively minor but irritating nonetheless.
Really, there’s no one type that’s better than the other, and no clear one-step solution for how to get rid of butt acne, as is the case with facial acne—because just as buildup from your skin’s natural oils combined with environmental debris can lead to clogged pores and breakouts on your face, that same bacteria you’re exposed to on the daily gets trapped in your clothing, too. If you, say, spend a little too long lingering in your workout clothes post-gym (happens to the best of us), the buildup of sweat, sebum, and dead skin cells combined with the friction of damp, tight-fitting clothes against your skin will cause irritation and, with it, acne.
Unsurprisingly, general cleanliness plays a pretty big part in keeping your ass acne-free—especially during the summer, when sweating is an inevitability. Taking hot showers and using scrubby exfoliants to open up pores and clear away buildup from dead skin are good practices for prevention, as is wearing looser clothes, preferably breathable cotton, that don’t stick to your skin. And for the love of god, change out of those grimy yoga pants as soon as you leave class before bacteria and debris start getting well-acquainted with parts of your body you’d prefer they not.
Taking the right precautions is key, but if you do all that and still wake up one morning with a spot the size of a crater (sorry about that), there’s still hope: A body wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide will keep your pores clear, as will a regular scrub-down with an exfoliator or even just a washcloth. It’s the dead skin cells you’re looking to get rid of, so any kind of exfoliation will do. If shit starts getting a little too real, you can use a cotton pad to apply an exfoliating tonic as you would do to your face or slather on some spot-treating cream.
When all else fails, do not pick at the blemishes, do not head to the mountains to live out the rest of your days in self-imposed exile, do not be too embarrassed or too proud to admit to your imperfections—go straight to the dermatologist, because the last thing anyone needs is acne scars where the sun don’t shine. Got it? Good. Here, seven scrubs, washes, and sprays that will arm you to the teeth in the battle against butt acne.
Originally published July 2016. Updated April 2017.