What are pimples on the butt?

Pimples on the butt occur due to staph bacteria on the skin. They also occur as a result of wearing tight clothing and using abrasive cleaners on the area.
Pimples on the butt occur due to staph bacteria on the skin. They also occur as a result of wearing tight clothing and using abrasive cleaners on the area.

While everyone gets pimples once in a while, most people associate pimples with the transitional teenage years, where our body chemistry changes. However, pimples form when a pore becomes clogged, no matter how old you are.

The pores become clogged when skin cells block the oil from the sebaceous gland. This causes bacteria to grow in the pore and around the hair follicle, resulting in a pimple.

On your butt, the lesions that form usually come due to bacteria that get into hair follicles and pores, rather than skin cells clogging them. This is called folliculitis or, more commonly, butt acne.

While many bacteria can enter follicles and cause infections, Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is the most common cause. As the infection grows, bumps form. Sometimes, the bumps are filled with white pus, and other times they aren't.

While not generally life-threatening, some circumstances would cause you to see your doctor for butt pimples. It's important to know the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of these lesions so you can get help if they become infected, don't heal, or keep coming back.

Symptoms of pimples on the butt

Butt pimples usually appear on your skin with the same signs as a clogged-pore pimple. These pimples might be:

  • Red and swollen with a hair follicle in the middle
  • Filled with pus in the center

Types of pimples on the butt

Even though butt pimples are most commonly bacterial, different forms of folliculitis can develop on the butt. Some of these are:

  • Gram-negative folliculitis, where bacteria are resistant to antibiotics
  • Pseudomonas folliculitis, or hot-tub folliculitis
  • Pityrosporum folliculitis, or fungal folliculitis
  • Viral folliculitis, commonly from the herpes virus
  • Demodex folliculitis, caused by mites
  • Eosinophilic folliculitis, which generally affects people with HIV
  • Hookworm folliculitis, caused by hookworm larvae

Causes of pimples on the butt

The bacteria we know as staph is responsible for most of the pimples on your butt. We wear tight underwear, and our clothing is becoming tighter as well — both of which rub our skin and damage our hair follicles.

You could also damage the hair follicles if you scrub your buttocks hard in the shower to get clean or if you use abrasive cleansers.

Our lifestyles are becoming more and more sedentary, giving us much more time sitting than standing, which can damage follicles and cause more sweat around the buttocks. Tight clothing restricts airflow and can damage hair follicles as well. So, if you exercise or sweat regularly in tight clothing, bacteria can get into the hair follicles and infect them.

If the pimples on your butt are not bacterial, they can form due to viruses, fungi, or mites that get into the hair follicles in your skin.

Hot-tub folliculitis forms when you sit in a hot tub that does not have the proper chlorine and water balance, which lets bacteria form in the water.

Hookworm folliculitis develops when hookworm larvae from animal feces burrow into the skin. This condition usually develops in visitors to tropical countries, when visitors sit on a beach or walk barefoot where animal feces may be present.

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When to see the doctor for pimples on the butt

Butt pimples usually heal on their own when treated correctly. However, you might want to see your doctor if you have recurring butt pimples or pimples that develop into larger and more painful bumps.

Large, painful bumps might be furuncles or carbuncles (types of boils) and require different treatment than folliculitis.

Diagnosis for pimples on the butt

You can self-diagnose your butt pimples if you know what to look for. Small and slightly painful red bumps that sometimes have pus in the center are generally butt pimples. Large, more painful bumps are boils or cysts, and you should see your doctor for treatment.

Your doctor will conduct a physical examination of the area. They may check if you have diabetes or any condition that might make your immune system too weak to fight infections, because these conditions may increase risk for folliculitis. They'll also be able to tell you whether your butt pimple might be a boil or cyst.

Treatments for pimples on the butt

The recommended treatment for pimples — even on the butt — is to hold warm, wet compresses over the pimple to open the pore and draw out the pus. Do this several times every day, for up to 15 minutes.

Make sure not to scratch or shave the affected area, because it could spread the bacteria around.

Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics that work to kill the bacteria causing the infection and give you some antibacterial ointment to put on your butt.

If you often develop pimples on your butt, you should talk to your doctor. They will likely discuss butt pimple prevention, which is the same as preventing folliculitis. Shower daily, especially after you exercise, and ensure you dry off thoroughly.

Can lifestyle changes cause acne?

Hormones are the primary cause of acne. Many people grow out of acne after their teenage years. But, some lifestyle changes can cause acne or worsen the skin condition.

Pregnancy and acne

Pregnancy may have an impact on your skin because hormone changes are at the root of acne. If you had acne as a teen, it might reappear during or after pregnancy. Even women who’ve never experienced acne before may discover skin blemishes during this time.

During pregnancy, your hormone levels change to accommodate your developing baby. While your skin may clear up once you give birth, the process can be slow. Your hormones are still adjusting after pregnancy, and levels may stay unbalanced for several weeks or months.

If you have concerns about acne caused by pregnancy, talk to your doctor. They may be able to suggest a product that is safe for you and your baby or suggest lifestyle changes to help improve your skin.

Stressful situations and acne

If something changes in your life that causes stress, you may develop acne. Research shows that stress causes acne flare-ups. This means that acne isn’t permanent, and your skin should recover once you reduce your stress levels.

Examples of lifestyle changes that may cause stress include:

  • Losing a source of income
  • Starting a new job
  • Yourself or a close family member facing a serious medical issue
  • Moving to a new house
  • Getting divorced or breaking up

If you can identify specific causes of stress in your life, look for ways to lessen its impact in your life. Write down ways you can address the stressor to improve your situation. Talk to your doctor about your stress-related concerns or seek the help of a counselor to help you work through the situation.

Diet changes and acne

Some studies show that people who maintain a healthy diet are less likely to get acne. A diet that’s high in sugar may lead to acne. If you notice changes in your skin, consider any recent diet changes that may contribute to your flare-up.

If you go from maintaining a well-balanced diet to eating sugary foods, your skin may suffer. Once you cut back on the sugar in your diet, your skin may improve again. Having a diet rich in the following foods may help improve your skin's appearance:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Foods rich in beta-carotene
  • Foods rich in vitamin C
  • Foods with healthy fats like fish

New medications or supplements and acne

Medications and supplements may have side effects like acne. If you have a medical condition you’re trying to treat, talk to your doctor about acne flare-ups. The same is true of supplements. Talk to your doctor about all vitamins and supplements you take to identify possible interactions.

While the condition can go away over time, you may have to change to a new medication or supplement. There are often many options to treat health conditions, and you can try to find one that doesn’t cause acne.

Hygiene products and acne

Haircare and skincare products can cause acne. If you have a sudden flare-up of acne, think about any changes to your skin or hair care routine. Products include:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair spray
  • Lotion
  • Sunless tanner
  • Cleanser or soap
  • Sunscreen

Read products labels to make sure they are:

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-acnegenic
  • Oil-free

If you don’t see at least one of these terms on your hygiene labels, the products may cause acne. Stop using the new products and see if your skin improves. If so, get rid of the hygiene products and shop for new ones

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Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer

Sports or outdoor activities and acne

Some sports or outdoor activities require you to wear facial or head gear. This may include hats, helmets, face shields, or masks. These items can trap bacteria and sweat against your skin — clogging your pores. If you wear something that covers your head or face, clean the gear between each use. When possible, have several options so you can change out your gear when needed to protect your skin.

Cosmetics and acne

If you wear products like foundation or blush, they may clog your pores. Look for oil-free product labels — similar to the hygiene products mentioned before. When you purchase a new product, spot test an area of your skin for several hours before applying it all over. If your skin has a reaction, stop using the product.

Acne-prone skin is naturally more sensitive. Remove your makeup completely at the end of each day using a gentle makeup remover or cleanser. Prioritize any topical acne medications that you use to clear up your skin. Allow the products to dry before you apply your make-up.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/13/2022
References
Canadian Medical Association Journal: "Hookworm folliculitis."

Cedars-Sinai: "Don't Mistake These Skin Conditions For Acne."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease: "Acne."

StatPearls: "Folliculitis."

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: "Interventions for bacterial folliculitis and boils (furuncles and carbuncles)."

American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Adult Acne."

Cleveland Clinic: "Acne."

Mayo Clinic: "Acne."