It's time to clear that rear.

By Alexa Erickson
June 24, 2020
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As if facial acne wasn’t enough, other parts of the human body are also subject to hair follicles getting clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This skin condition, which can result in whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples, is also common on the chest, upper back, and shoulders. And while most of us have come to terms with the fact that we’re going to suffer from a simple pimple every now and then, it’s likely you’ve “turned the other cheek” to a breakout on your butt.

According to Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, body acne, including buttne, is very common. “More than half of people with facial acne have some body acne too,” says Dr. King. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a commercial regarding acne-like bumps on the butt. And it’s not a topic that comes up among family and friends very often either.

While you can’t see it in public, butt acne is irritating, painful, and can wreak havoc on your confidence. It’s time to burst that taboo. We tapped two experts to weigh in on reasons why you may be getting buttne—and some products that can help get rid of butt acne.

“Just like facial acne, the main causes of body acne are genetics and hormones,” says Dr. King. Hormones are responsible for the development of our sebaceous glands, and when there’s an imbalance (such as during puberty or your period), this triggers the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands. This overproduction of sebum is one of the symptoms that can lead to acne.

“Oil glands on the buttocks can be influenced by fluctuating hormones just like your face,” adds Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “The same hormones that prepare a woman's body to become pregnant can impact the oil glands, explaining why women develop pimples around the time of their periods.”

You’ve likely experienced firsthand the many ways stress can manifest. One of those ways is through acne. “We know that stress promotes oil production and inflammation in the skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. One of the hormones stress elevates is cortisol. Oil glands in the skin have receptors that increase levels of cortisol, resulting in excess sebum.

RELATED: Here’s How You Can Deal With Stressed Skin, According to a Derm

Whether you have a sweet tooth or a tendency toward foods with a high glycemic index, your diet may be the culprit behind your bumpy bottom. “Sugary foods and dairy have been associated with worsening of acne. They increase levels of a hormone called IG-1 which triggers oil gland activity,” notes Dr. Zeichner.

Whether you’re a workout warrior or can’t beat the summer heat, sweating, albeit good for you, can lead to breakouts everywhere, including on your butt. “If you are sitting in sweaty clothes, especially in the summer, it can create a humid environment on the skin, trapping oil and dirt which block the pores,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Make sure to wear moisture wicking fabrics and don't sit in sweaty clothes after you work out.”

You can blame the athleisure trend (and all the amazing fashion-forward fitness apparel brands out there!) for your desire to slip on a pair of comfy yoga pants all day long. But if you’re noticing a flare-up on your rear, you might be overdoing it. “Friction on the skin can cause inflammation and lead to acne breakouts. This type of acne is referred to as acne mechanica. If you tend to break out, stick to looser-fitting clothes,” says Dr. Zeichner.

From your body wash to your moisturizer, Dr. King says you may be subjecting yourself to butt acne simply with the products you use. If a product is labeled comedogenic, it means it’s capable of clogging your pores, which can lead to acne. Be sure the products you’re using on your cheeks have a non-comedogenic label and are free of pore-clogging ingredients.

Now that you know the causes, you may be frantic for products to help clear your rear. Treatment for body acne is similar to treatment for facial acne, but the skin on the body tends to be tougher than the skin on the face so it can usually tolerate stronger treatments,” explains King. “Benzoyl peroxide is an organic acid in the peroxide family that has been used to treat acne for years. It is an effective treatment for acne because of its antibacterial properties, which means it not only kills bacteria that contribute to acne, but also helps to prevent and clear out clogged pores.”

Salicylic acid is another excellent pore-clearing ingredient because it exfoliates the surface of the skin and penetrates into pores to remove oil, says Dr. King. The acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), which offers a chemical exfoliation to the skin, dissolving the bonds that hold dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. BHAs are also oil soluble, allowing them to penetrate the pore. “BHAs also have anti-inflammatory, skin-calming properties so they are gentle enough even for sensitive skin prone to redness and/or rosacea,” says Dr. King.

Topical retinoids are another ingredient to consider, as they have a comedolytic effect, which means they help to prevent and treat clogged pores. “This is because they increase the turnover of skin cells and reduce the tendency of cells to clump together and clog pores,” says Dr. King. “They also decrease the discoloration that can be left after a pimple, and because they increase the turnover of skin cells, this reduces the healing time for acne. Options include over-the-counter adapalene or prescription adapalene, tretinoin, or tazarotene.”

If you’re looking for something that can help, here are the products that Dr. King and Dr. Zeichner recommend.

This gentle OTC option for acne-related hyperpigmentation contains cold pressed, organic prickly pear seed oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil and aloe vera. When combined, these ingredients hydrate, moisturize, and brighten. "The ingredients work together to brighten the skin by offering antioxidant protection, anti-inflammatory properties, increased cell turnover, and increased collagen production,” says Dr. King.

To buy: $52; carterandjane.com.

“This cleanser contains a mix of hydroxy acids that helps remove excess oil and dead cells from the surface of the skin to keep the pores clear,” says Dr. Zeichner.

To buy: $22; credobeauty.com.

Featuring 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, this mask works by lowering levels of acne-causing bacteria. “Be careful because it can bleach your fabrics, so wear white underwear,” advises Dr. Zeichner.

To buy: $8; target.com.

Featuring CBD oil, which has been shown to reduce oil production, and antimicrobial manuka honey, the ingredients of this sheet mask can help banish your buttne. “After applying the mask to your face, take the rest of the juice from the container and apply it to your rear end,” says Dr. Zeichner.

To buy: $70; bloomingdales.com.

“These wipes contain salicylic acid, a beta hydroxyacid commonly used to treat acne. The pads are easy to use on the buttocks and can be brought with you on the go,” says Dr. Zeichner.

To buy: $8; walgreens.com.