The 9 holy commandments to make your pimpled butt less pimply
Say goodbye to the devil spawn
Are you normal, or every time you come across a painting of the Mona Lisa, do you also wonder if she used an aloo mask to get rid of her pimples? If you belong to the second group of people, you’re not alone. I, too, would trade my vibrator and Twitter for an acne-free era. I’ll even go back to the caveman period and deal with being covered in hair and animal skins, as long as pimples are non-existent. According to evolutionary theorists Stephen Kellett and Paul Gilbert, the reason why humans are cursed with pimples is that we evolved too fast out of having fur than was good for us, making our sebaceous glands lag behind as they’re used to lubricating our hair-covered flesh. The absence of hair brought with it overproduction of sebum, resulting in clogged pores and our worst enemy: acne.
It’s like the epidermal gods said, “Here child, I’ll take all that hair away but now you’ll have to make do with these hideous, pustule-filled disasters.” Acne and I have been bosom buddies for years now. I don’t mind the red, spiky bumps on my arms and legs so much anymore. It’s having them on the butt that bothers me the most.
The reasons are many, according to Dr Rinky Kapoor, cosmetic dermatologist and dermato-surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics. Chief among them is blocked pores, because of hormonal imbalance, oil secretion, and lack of exfoliation. “Butt acne usually appears in the form of tiny red bumps that can quickly become itchy and painful. They look like zits and generally affect the lower portion of the butt,” she says. Acne doesn’t just ruin the aesthetic of your beautiful behind; it can also make it irritating to sit, sweat, and wear certain clothes.
Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a major culprit of butt acne, adds Kapoor, as the keratin protein blocks the hair follicles and causes breakouts, along with those characteristic spiky red or discoloured bumps.
Some other reasons butt acne has decided to become your life partner are fungus and yeast infections, poorly done waxing and shaving, and contact dermatitis. Butt acne is also caused by folliculitis, which causes blockage in hair follicles. This usually happens because of wearing tight clothing or clothing made of unbreathable fabric which rubs against the skin, according to Kapoor. “When the skin sweats and does not get a chance to breathe, the protective barrier breaks and staph bacteria get free rein to cause pus-filled infection in hair follicles,” she says. Now, that we know what causes our behinds to break out, it’s time to put the scourge of butt acne in our rear view.
The 9 commandments to keep butt acne at bay
Thou shalt get to the root cause
Is your butt acne is flaring up because of KP, folliculitis, clogged pores, or the sweatpants you’ve been wearing commando for days because you haven’t done the laundry?
Dr Anchal Panth, dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon, Dermafollix Hair Transplant and Skin Clinic, differentiates between acne, KP, and fungal infection, saying, “Acne are red bumps interspersed with whiteheads, while KP is tiny bumps around hair follicles, equidistant from each other. When you run your fingers, they feel prickly. Fungal infection appears as red bumps with itching, and you can see more pus-filled lesions.”
For KP, Panth suggests adding a sulphur-based lotion to our night-time routines and applying it to the affected areas. “This will help in shedding overlying dead skin, making it smoother.”
Tweak recommends Lords Sulphur Ointment (₹53).
In extreme cases, the dermatologist might prescribe an oral antibiotic or an antifungal medication to control the acne, says Kapoor. “The right way to apply the anti-fungal cleanser or wash is to spread it gently on the area and let it sit while you sing from A to Z, then wash and pat dry.”
Thou shalt hit the shower after gym
You might think spritzing perfume as if you’re in an Axe Body Spray ad will be enough, but trust us, your butt will know. Sweating from exercise doesn’t cause acne. Allowing sweat to linger on your skin for long without wiping it off might though, since the high-moisture environment promotes the growth of icky bacteria. So dermatologists insist — and, quite frankly, so does your butt — that you must hit the showers after you’ve exercised.
Thou shalt use anti-bacterial soap
If your butt acne refuses to leave you, it’s a good idea to switch from your regular, fancy body soap to an antibacterial soap that will help kill the bacteria on your bum. We know you might be tempted to skip on the soap to save time. Now, only if you could see the bacteria on your butt do a happy dance to that, you’d pale.
Panth advises using soaps with benzoyl peroxide in it. Owing to its anti-microbial properties, the active ingredient is effective in treating both acne and folliculitis. But we suggest, you take it easy and do a patch test first as some people are allergic to this ingredient.
Tweak recommends using Acnestar (₹74.4).
Thou shan’t scrub. Ever.
We repeat: Put the loofah down and step away from the dry brush. As appealing as it is to scrub the living daylights out of your pimply butt, you must stand patient in the face of temptation. Panth suggests using a chemical exfoliant, which uses alpha-hydroxy acids like lactic or glycolic acid.
Panth advocates using an exfoliant only once a week. “Over-exfoliation and scrubbing can damage the upper layer of your skin, making it more prone to infection,” she says.
Tweak recommends Alpha Skin Care Moisturizing Body Wash Sea Mist (₹2,537).
Thou shalt make salicylic acid your best friend
Butt acne and salicylic acid are sworn enemies. This kind of beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) can help eliminate excess oils and exfoliate dead skin cells, preventing them from being stuck in your pores and follicles and causing butt acne. This will not only lighten the spots by promoting new skin cells, but it will also prevent them from reappearing, making it a useful ingredient to have at hand.
Tweak recommends Neemli Naturals Glycolic & Salicylic Acid Serum (₹1,462)
Thou shalt vow you’ll only wear cotton undies
As unsexy as cotton undies might look, they will be your shield against recurrent butt acne. “Instead of form-fitting yoga pants, gym shorts, and skinny jeans regularly opt for breathable and loose clothing. Opt for cotton undies instead of nylon ones,” says Kapoor. “Sweat does not get a chance to block your pores.” Easy breathable clothing also reduces friction and this means less discomfort for the butt.
Thou shan’t let your butt grow roots into a chair
We know you might forget to move around in the middle of a hectic day, but our collective chronic laziness is a major culprit of sporadic butt acne. Sitting too much can cause friction or irritation on the butt, says Kapoor.
“Just avoiding friction is important. We have to give the skin time and environment to heal. Constant friction will make your butt acne worse,” adds Panth. Now that we’ve heard it from the experts themselves, I promise I’m standing up as I write this.
Thou shalt swear off waxing
Yes, I know the appeal of smooth, bump-free butts — the reason why this piece is being written in the first place — but waxing is not as surefire a way to get there as you might think. “Waxing leaves behind an open follicle on the skin, which makes it more prone to get infected,” says Panth. And if you have sensitive skin, you’re even more at risk of developing or worsening your bumpy butt, adds Kapoor.
We say, it’s a better idea to shave but it’s vital you do it in the direction of the grain of the hair instead of against it and use ample shaving cream as well as a lubricant to avoid irritation.
Having said that, if you’ve made a lifestyle out of giving yourself cuts while shaving, know that bacteria can enter said cuts and worsen your acne condition. So, be extra careful as you shave your butt.
If waxing is still what you prefer, Kapoor says you must make sure that you use the best tools. “Use a good pre and post waxing oil to help heal the skin,” she adds.
Thou shan’t use greasy, heavy moisturisers
Light, gel-based moisturisers are your best option to keep butt acne at bay while having moisturised, healthy skin. “Look for ingredients such as butylene glycol, oleanolic acid and glycerine, which provide moisture without clogging pores and leaving a heavy residue on the skin. Using creams with glycolic acid also helps,” says Panth.
Tweak recommends Phyto-ceramide deep moisturiser (₹739).
You can also put in some drops of tea tree oil in your moisturiser, which helps combat acne because of its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
As natural alternatives, Kapoor suggests using oatmeal and aloe vera to moisturise and soothe the inflamed skin. Above all, be patient with yourself and your bumpy backside. There are many other butt acne sufferers out there — all the better to keep each other company when we do our aloo masks.