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Asking for a Friend: What Can I Do About Butt Acne?

“Rear-end pimples are so exceedingly common among women who work out that I actually made up a name for it: exercise booty,” says dermatologist Deirdre Hooper, M.D., a dermatologist at Audubon Dermatology in New Orleans, LA. The condition (which also goes by the less polite term ass-ne) is caused by heat, moisture, friction, and bacteria. “A warm, wet environment allows bacteria and yeast to thrive on the skin. And friction creates teeny little abrasions in the hair follicles, where the bacteria and yeast can get in and cause inflammation,” Hooper explains.

Unfortunately, if you’re a gym rat, there’s no real way to just avoid a warm wet environment. And even changing out of your clothes right after your workout isn’t a surefire fix. “The problem is the hour you spend in spin class, or running, or lifting weights—not the 15 minutes you spend sitting in your car in those sweaty leggings on the way home to shower,” says Hooper. (See 9 Reasons Your Sweat Smells.) 

What you can do is buy the most breathable workout bottoms out there, use a benzoyl peroxide cleanser on your rear when you bathe, and dry your skin thoroughly after you shower, says Hooper. (To learn what to look for in your shorts and leggings, check out 10 Fitness Fabrics, Explained.) If this doesn’t help, you can also ask your doctor about whether a topical antibiotic like clindamycin is appropriate.

Too embarrassed to bring it up with your M.D.? Don’t be. “I can’t tell you how many women come in to me for a mole check who have it. And when I said, ‘Do you work out? Because I noticed you have exercise booty,’ they’ll go, ‘Oh my gosh I’m so glad you said something because I just couldn’t bring myself to ask!’” says Hooper. “I guarantee your doc has seen it a thousand times. Ask for help!” (She may suggest one of these Alternative Adult Acne Treatments.)

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