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You know what? Butt rashes happen. Though a derriere disturbance isn’t fun, it’s totally normal (really). A rash can pop up anywhere on your skin, including your bum. It’s not weird or gross, but you can do something about it and get the rump relief you deserve.
Most rashes are mild. A rash shows up when skin gets inflamed, which causes redness, bumps, itchiness, and/or general irritation. Every rash has slightly different symptoms and appearance.
Most types of rashes that can happen on your back, stomach, or face can also show up on your posterior. Though most butt rashes are treated with over-the-counter products (or peace out on their own), some are symptoms of a bigger problem (but this is rare).
To make sure the bumps on your behind are innocuous (as annoying as they might be), here’s a list of almost every bum rash you might encounter.
If you notice acne-like bumps, you probably have… folliculitis
Here’s good news: You probably don’t have butt acne.
The bad news? Folliculitis looks just like butt acne. When hair follicles get damaged, they let in bacteria and get infected. This produces a rash of small red bumps with pus in them, centered on hair follicles.
Skin that stays hot and damp is most susceptible, since the friction can lead to irritation and the humid environment lets bacteria thrive. This type of rash can happen anywhere you have hair follicles, but the bum is prime folliculitis territory.
Working out a lot can increase your chances of getting the rash, as can a summer of humid weather and not-so-breathable underwear. A hot tub could also be the culprit — the betrayal! Pseudomonas folliculitis is a version of the rash specifically caused by unclean hot tubs.
More good news: Folliculitis is extremely common and mostly goes away on its own.
Try to keep the area dry, always change clothes after a workout, and gently clean your booty during showers. Don’t scrub! That will only irritate your bum and make the rash stick around longer. Also, stay out of dodgy hot tubs.
If you notice dry, scaly skin with extreme itchiness, you probably have… eczema
Eczema sounds serious, but it’s really just another name for atopic dermatitis, a rash that tends to happen in people with asthma, a family history of eczema, and seasonal allergies.
Eczema can look different from person to person but is more common in certain areas of the body, such as behind the knees or in the folds of the arms. It’s itchy by definition and is often called “the itch that rashes.”
Though the cause isn’t clear, eczema pops up when the immune system decides to go overboard and cause inflammation of the skin. People may have different triggers that cause these inflammatory flare-ups.
Sometimes detergents cause irritation, soaps or super hot showers dry out and irritate your skin, or general stress freaks out your immune system. The best way to avoid a flare-up is to keep your skin moisturized and reduce stress as much as you can.
Most importantly, don’t scratch! That will irritate or break your skin, which only makes the rash stick around and itch even more.
If you have an itchy rash that resembles eczema, has well-defined edges, and won’t go away after normal treatment, then you may have contact dermatitis. This is still incredibly common — 10 percent of the population will have atopic dermatitis at some point in their lives.
If butt eczema (or eczema anywhere else on your body) keeps coming back, see a dermatologist for a prescription balm or medication.
If you notice dry, red bumps after trying a new detergent, you probably have… contact dermatitis
When you lather up with a new soap and then break out in an itchy red rash, you can thank our friend contact dermatitis. You can get contact dermatitis two ways: from an allergic reaction or irritation.
Allergic contact dermatitis usually flares up when you’re exposed to chemicals you’re allergic to in cosmetics, cleansers, or nickel or when you come in contact with poison oak or poison ivy.
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when your skin touches a toxic substance like bleach, kerosene, or detergents. It can also occur as a result of friction in spots where your skin rubs together.
Both forms of dermatitis cause redness, itchiness, swelling, and often dry skin that feels stretched out. Luckily, to resolve contact dermatitis, you just have to avoid whatever is irritating your skin.
Often a new detergent, soap, or other cleanser is to blame. You can also develop an allergy to something you’ve used without problems in the past. Or maybe you have some nickel-based butt jewelry that’s causing it — no judgment!
Whatever the cause may be, you can treat contact dermatitis by getting rid of the culprit, keeping the area clean, and covering the rash with petroleum jelly.
If itching keeps you up at night, you can take over-the-counter oral antihistamines. Topical steroids may be helpful in treating the rash as long as the culprit topical is removed. As with eczema, don’t scratch. It’ll damage your skin and make things worse.
In the case of irritant contact dermatitis caused by friction, your skin may break, inviting a bacterial infection. To avoid all that, make sure any skin folds stay as dry as possible and use petroleum jelly or zinc oxide to keep moisture out and reduce friction.
If you can’t figure out the cause of ongoing contact dermatitis, your doctor may give you a patch test to check for an underlying allergy so your butt can get back to normal.
If you notice raised redness with white scale-like flakes, you probably have… psoriasis
Psoriasis is caused by your immune system going bananas and producing extra skin cells. This causes a scaly-looking, often very dry, and sometimes itchy rash. Usually psoriasis occurs on the elbows and knees, but it can grace your butt with its presence, too.
Sadly, there’s no cure and the triggers are unclear. If you have a family history of psoriasis, you’re more likely to develop the rash. Stress, certain medications, and heavy alcohol intake could also cause a flare-up.
It’s normal for the rash to appear and reappear in cycles. During a flare-up you can use moisturizers, topical retinoids, tar soap, or salicylic acid to calm your skin.
Prescription topical corticosteroids are first line for treatment of psoriasis. Sunlight therapy can also help, but please use caution when exposing your butt outdoors.
For severe psoriasis, see your doctor for prescription medication.
If you notice red bumps forming a circle, you probably have… ringworm
Ringworm is a fungal infection that usually shows up in circular shapes on the skin. It’s not ideal to learn you have a fungal infection, but hey, at least it’s not actual worms!
Though ringworm sounds like the grossest of maladies, it’s incredibly common. In fact, if you’ve had athlete’s foot or jock itch, you’ve had ringworm. OK, maybe it’s not that comforting to hear, but the point is it’s very treatable.
You can get ringworm from locker room showers, sharing clothes with someone who has it, or an infected pet.
Thankfully, any cream designated for jock itch should clear up the rash in a few days to a week. Look for an antifungal ointment with Clotrimazole, Miconazole, Terbinafine, or Ketoconazole.
If you notice bright red patches with red bumps and scattered pustules, you probably have… cutaneous candidiasis
“Yeast infections — not just for your vagina!” — a.k.a. the rejected slogan for cutaneous candidiasis, a fungal infection that usually occurs in or near folds of skin.
This is the same fungus that causes yeast infections and diaper rash. Though butt-based candidiasis isn’t common, it can happen, especially if the bum area stays moist and warm for long periods of time. To treat it, use antifungal creams and keep the area clean and dry.
If you have singular or small clusters of bumps, you probably have… bug bites
You don’t have to go skinny dipping for a bug to bite your bottom. If you’ve been camping, at the beach, or at an evening barbecue while wearing a skirt, the source of itchy bumps might be bug bites.
If the bumps are raised and itchy but not especially painful, don’t worry. But if you have other symptoms of an allergic reaction, like fever or difficulty breathing, see a doctor immediately.
Most of the time, bug bites will be from harmless flies or mosquitoes, but if your symptoms get worse after a few days, it’s best to seek medical help.
Also, make sure these bites aren’t from bed bugs. Bed bug bites vary from person to person, but they usually come in small clusters. You can find the little buggers in the seams of your mattress.
Though the bites themselves aren’t dangerous, having bed bugs is a huge pain, and you’ll want to take care of it immediately by washing everything, deep-cleaning, potentially getting rid of your mattress, and calling your landlord (if you’re in an apartment).
If you have small pus- or fluid-filled bumps in a small cluster, you probably have… herpes
Genital herpes doesn’t always stay on the genitals. It can show up on your bum or get transferred there after you’ve scratched another flaring area.
Herpes is not something to be ashamed of. According to the CDC, one in six people ages 14 to 49 have the disease. If you’ve had unprotected sex and suspect your bum rash might be herpes, see a doctor to get prescription treatment.
Though the condition is easily treatable, it can have adverse effects if it goes undiagnosed. While the flare-up is happening, you should avoid sexual contact, since there’s a higher risk of spreading the condition while the rash is present.
If you have a prickly rash during hot weather, you probably have… heat rash
An extra-hot day at the beach could be to blame for the prickly-feeling rash on your behind. Heat rash happens when sweat gets trapped in your pores. The irritated skin usually forms small clear or white bumps.
Adults often get the rash where skin rubs together, so it may start on your thighs and work its way up to your bum. Luckily, heat rash goes away when the heat dies down. Cool your butt off, keep it dry, and avoid getting in any literal hot seats for a few days afterward.
If you have painless rough, bumpy skin, you probably have… keratosis pilaris
Guess what? Chicken butt.
No, seriously. Keratosis pilaris will give you chicken-like skin on your butt and many other areas of your body. The small, hard bumps make the skin feel coarse, but they’re not usually painful.
Though keratosis pilaris is caused by dead skin clogging your pores, there’s no known cause or cure. Luckily, it’s totally harmless, and since it’s on your rear, it’s pretty easy to conceal (should you so desire).
Still, it’s understandable if you don’t want to look like you have constant goosebumps on your butt. Try to keep the area well-moisturized with a product containing lactic acid.
Limit exfoliation to only a few times a week since constantly scrubbing and picking the areas has not been shown to be helpful.
If you have extremely painful bumps in clusters, you probably have… shingles
Unfortunately, once you’ve had the chicken pox, the virus stays in your body. Sometimes, years later, it can activate like a Jason Bourne sleeper cell and come back to attack in the form of shingles.
Shingles shows up as small, clustered red bumps. Though the bumps can sort of look like pimples or hives, shingles is extremely painful and requires a visit to the doctor. Usually, it affects older adults or people with suppressed immune systems, but it can happen at any age.
Most of the time shingles won’t show up on your butt first (it’s more likely to hit your back, chest, stomach, or face), but if your bum bumps come along with deep, sharp pains, shingles could be the culprit.
Once the disease is diagnosed, you’ll get a prescription antiviral treatment. The treatment works best when you get it as soon as you see the signs of shingles, so don’t wait until the rash worsens or you’re in a lot of pain.
If you suspect shingles, go to the doctor right away.
If you’ve had trouble holding your bladder and you have a large red rash, you probably have… incontinence-associated dermatitis
Sometimes people pee their pants — even adults. If this happens often and your skin is exposed the urine for a long time, you can develop incontinence-associated dermatitis.
People with serious incontinence who aren’t able to clean themselves in a timely way can get this rash. Since the rash comes about from the skin staying wet (and being exposed to bacteria), it’s important to keep the area clean and dry.
If you have nausea or a fever in addition to a rash, go to the doctor right away. Or, if the rash stays around for more than a week (or gets worse after you attempt to treat it), make an appointment to see the doc as soon as you can.
Most of these rashes are very common and not at all dangerous. Of course, if you’re unsure or you just want your butt to stop itching sooner, a trip to the doctor’s office won’t hurt.
Most of these rashes can be treated by keeping the area clean and dry. “Dry” is the key term. Wear breathable underwear, don’t walk around in damp workout pants, and stay out of hot, sticky weather as much as possible.
Also, make sure to use mild soaps and don’t scratch. You’ll want to scratch. We know. But don’t do it. It only makes the rash worse and lengthens your healing time.
Everybody will probably get a butt rash at some point in their life. It’s not a big deal. Still, it doesn’t mean you want a bum you have to discreetly scratch at the office.
To prevent a rash, make sure to avoid harsh chemicals that might irritate your skin and wear clothing that doesn’t give you swamp butt. Keeping your bottom dry is the best way to avoid a rash. (“A dry butt is a rash-free butt!”)
Next time your bum gets bumpy, don’t freak out. Instead, break out your comfortable, breathable underwear, petroleum jelly, and antihistamines, and soon enough your butt will go back to its rash-free glory days.