I’d grown up always having a blemished butt and just accepted my skin would never be clear or smooth down there.
Having my butt covered with one or more pimples or boils (or scars left behind) made me self conscious. As a guy I was shy to show my butt, even to my partner.
It Isn’t Acne
Generally “Butt boils”, “butt acne” or “butt pimples” are caused by one or more of the following:
- Folliculitis: Inflammed and infected hair follicles that look like acne because the follicles are red and can develop a white head.
- Keratosis Pilaris: condition where the skin produces too much keratin/protein forming little acne-like bumps on the skin.
- Boils: When one or more hair follicles are infected by staph or other bacteria and form large painful pus filled boils.
Doctors and Specialists Didn’t Help
When I started getting more boils on my butt and upper thighs, I went to see multiple doctors and dermatologists. I think 5 in total.
I was prescribed different antibacterial washes and antibiotics (Minocycline) which didn’t work. I was then prescribed a 3 month course of another antibiotic (Keflex) which I didn’t prepared to take.
I decided I’d research and try everything possible before resorting to stronger antibiotics.
I Tried Everything
For the next 11 months, I suffered through ups and downs with recurrent boils, and went through a rollercoaster of different medical professionals and treatments: traditional and alternative/natural. I tried everything (see lists at bottom of this page), spent countless hours googling, and battled with depression and low self esteem due to how bad my skin looked underneath my clothing.
It was a hard time and put a dark shadow over everything in my life. And I didn’t want to be intimate because I so self conscious, which hurt my relationship.
My hope dwindled with every failed treatment, every supplement, scrub, vitamin, cream or routnie that promised so much but didn’t deliver. I was against taking long-term antibiotics but was getting close to saying “F+ck it” and just taking them out of desperation.
A Simple Approach Finally Worked
After struggling for 12 months, I started seeing real improvement from a combination of things I was doing (list below). It was slow at first: I get longer and longer breaks from seeing boils until they gradually stopped forming altogether. This lead to my butt and thighs gradually becoming completely clear without needing antibiotics. In fact, that whole area is now clearer and smoother than any other time I can remember.
These pics are taken about 6-7 months on from when the boils stopped forming. I’m actually pretty happy now as I expected to have more scarring (given that my butt has been pimpled for decades).
So I wanted to post about what has worked for me. There’s no single solution for everyone, but I hope this info helps others save time.
The 3 Most Important Things
These are the 2 biggest things that helped my butt acne clear up. If you do only one thing after reading this post, try AmLactin. It’s about as close to a magic pill as I found.
- AmLactin (every day): It took me a while to be convinced, but now I see it as the single most important thing. It seemed wrong at first to apply a “moisturising lotion” to an area which has boils – wouldn’t it clog the skin more? but the opposite is true. This isn’t a typical moisturiser. The strong AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) content in this exfoliates and renews the skin. Give it a month at least. I apply once a day and continue to see old marks fading and my skin getting smoother and clearer. I won’t be without this stuff.
- Retin-A Tretonin 0.05 Cream (1 month): This was something I used for about a month along with the AmLactin. I’d put the AmLactin on in the morning and then before bed I’d put a bit of this cream on the trouble areas. I used it only a month and haven’t used it since but I think it did assist in getting things under control. I think if I had a flare up I’d not hesitate to put it on again.
You need a dermotoligist to give you a prescription for this. It was the 3rd dermotoligist that I saw who suggested using this along with the AmLactin.
This Also Helped A Bit (Optional)
This is other stuff I tried along the way. I don’t consider it essential, but it was all part of trying things out. Some of them may help you.
- Meditate / Reduce Stress (every day): You’ll often see stress indicated as a triggering factor for Folliculitis. Meditation is your friend. For me, there have been some significant stressors to do with the illness of a loved one, and long term work stress. I can’t change that situation, but I can change my mind to some extent. Doing a guided meditation every morning when I wake up, and ideally another 10min mindfulness session throughout the day is something I try to maintain. It might seem a bit airy fairy to some that this would effect your skin, but I believe it does.
- Sunlight: I’d read some anecdotal stuff about sunlight killing Staph bacteria and being good for Keratosis Pilaris. I actually went to the length of tracking down a nudist beach and finding a secret spot where I could lay. It felt good, and I believe it helped but I wasn’t able to maintain it so don’t consider it a major factor. But if you can do it, try it.
- Try keeping diet anti-inflammatory: Keep it simple: think anti-inflammatory. My diet was pretty healthy already, but I needed to cut down on the grains and sugars a bit, and up the intake of greens and veges. If you google anti-inflammatory diet, you’ll get some ideas but don’t go overboard, just make sure you’re not eating crap acidifying and inflammatory food all the time.
- Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay: It’s not exactly “secret”, it’s 100% Calcium Bentonite Clay, which you can probably find elsewhere but this is the one I used. You mix it with Apple Cider Vinegar and apply it as a paste, let it dry, before washing it off in the shower. I rarely do this now but it was something I used when I had active boils and really seemed to help cleanse the top layer of skin and draw things out. A bit messy, but easy to do.
- Taking Vitamin A Internally: There’s tons of info about on Vitamin A for acne and other skin conditions. I took a skin formula which contained Vitamin A for about 2 months. In the end, I discontinued because I was weary of the Vitamin A build up and would urge caution before going crazy taking Vit A supplements. Now I just try to get it in my diet (sweet potato omelette in the morning with greens, yes sir).
- Tea Tree Oil: For many people Tea Tree works wonders on all skin ailments, especially where bacteria is involved. But Tea Tree is strong stuff so you can develop sensitivity if you use it undiluted persistently.
Try mixing some drops into your body wash like I do, or using a natural wash like Dr Bronner’s Tea Tree Liquid Soap which already has Tea Tree Oil in the ingredients.
- Nutribiotic Skin Ointment: I tried many many ointments specifically for boils, staph etc. This in the end was the one I’d keep coming back to. I haven’t needed it much now, but in the early stages when I was still getting boils I would apply this to them and it very often helped lessen the severity or sometimes event stop them in their tracks.
This Stuff Didn’t Make a Difference
This is everything else that made no noticeable difference. Many of these things work for others, and are beneficial for other reasons (boosting general immunity etc) but they didn’t have a noticeable effect on my skin.
- Super Cleanliness: read about staph or acne on your butt and you may believe you’re not clean enough but I suspect this is rarely the issue. I went to great lengths here in terms of frequent washing, using antibacterial towels, general hygiene etc.
- Hemp Underwear: I do recommend either full cotton or hemp/natural fibre underwear that breaths. But this alone didn’t make a difference for me.
- Coconut Oil: This helps with keratosis pilars and does smooth the butt out, but it also clogs the pores so I found I was still getting boils, but the area around the butt was smoother.
- Strong Antibacterial Washes: When I first CLn Bodywash I was so excited I went to great lengths to get it (living in Australia where it’s not available). Here was a bodywash that actually talked about Folliculitis and and skin infection, with glowing reviews. It’s based on the idea of bleach bathes which have proven helpful for staph infections and those with Ezcma. I have no doubt it works for others but it did nothing for me.
I also imported some Hibaclens which has the key ingredient Chlorhexidine and it’s the traditional Staph killing soap they use in hospitals. I was also excited about this one but it had no effect in my case.
Other antibacterial washes I tried include those from QV, Ego and also the Benzoyl Peroxide wash that my first doctor prescribed.
You may find some of these make things worse in the long run. Your skin needs a balance of bacteria. The “kill everything” broad spectrum approach is rarely a good long term plan.
- Terrasil Wound Care Gel: Similar to Nutribiotic’s skin oinment but I find the consistency of this a little harder to work with. I think it’s on a par with Nutribiotic’s skin ointment for me in terms of the results so still a good product.
- Standing Desk: Long periods of sitting are mentioned as a contributing factor. Well, I got a sit-stand desk and I like it for helping my back and posture, but it didn’t help my butt boils.
- Shower Filter: Water in most cities these days is chlorinated. I read up on this and became very excited. I think it’s good for general health to filter out the chemicals, but the shower water wasn’t responsible for my butt acne so had no butt loving benefit.
- Salicylic Acid: A common topical treatment for Acne. I tried various strengths, but didn’t find this to help at all.
- Chinese Herbs: I saw 3 different chinese traditional doctors repeatedly. The formulas I tried generally contained immune boosting and cleansing herbs (and mushrooms) that are indicated for my constitution from a chinese medicine standpoint. I do find Chinese medicine helpful for certain ailments but it didn’t help me here. That surprised me.
- Western Herbs: I also saw 2 naturopaths and one herbalist. This is where I spent a lot of time and a fair amount of money. In addition to their recommendations, I’d also experimented myself. I felt there were some slight improvements but they always seemed temporary.
I was on different formulas including herbs like: Echinacea, Dandelion, Olive Leaf, Goldenseal, Berberine, Burdock, Gotu Kola, Elderberry and Andrographis. I saw no real sustained long-term improvement.
- Acupuncture: I didn’t really expect this to help and it didn’t.
- Increased Water Intake: Most people aren’t drinking the recommended amount (2 Litres or half a gallon). It’s another generally healthy thing to do, but had no noticeable effect on my skin down there.
- Probiotics and Gut Powders: To try the gut-first approach, which always made a lot of sense to me. Along with the herbs, I was put on various probiotics and powders for my gut. But after 4-5 months, I didn’t really see noticeable improvement. I still take some probiotics sometimes because it feels like the right thing to do, but who knows if they’re doing anything.
- Digestive Enzymes: Also on the gut-related topic, the idea here is that these help break down my food for better absorption and nutrition, along with lowering inflammation in the gut. Something I take now if I have a big heavy meal, but not noticed any effect on my skin when taking them regularly.
- Omega 3s / Fish Oil: No noticeable change over the long term from taking these. I don’t bother anymore. I do try and get omega 3s in my diet (fish, chia seeds etc) for general health.
- Aloe Vera: Trusty Aloe vera. Great for so many things. I still think this is good for general healing and calming of the skin. But it couldn’t stop or prevent the boils or pimples that plagued me.
- Vinegar: Both Apple Cider Vinegar and White Vinegar. These can be wonder liquids for certain skin conditions, but not here. I was actually pleased they didn’t have an effect as I wasn’t looking forward to smelling like a salt and vinegar chip (good way to repel the opposite sex).
Note I also tried Apple Cider Vinegar internally for some time which didn’t help.
- Allicin / Garlic: Shown to be a potent natural antibiotic and pretty well researched, I figured there was no harm in trying garlic. I do think it helped my general immunity (didn’t catch the usual bugs during winter) however it didn’t seem to reduce the boils or blemishes.
- Quercetin/Bromelian Complex: This stuff is something I was already taking to keep seasonal allgeries and hayfever at bay, and then I read that it’s also a good anti-inflammatory and immune booster.
But I didn’t see any noticeable effect on my skin from upping the dosage and taking it more regularly.
- Salt Water: I’m still a little on the fence about this one. It definitely doesn’t hurt. I think I want to believe that it helps but just didn’t see any direct effects from regular swimming in salt water.
I came to see this condition very much triggered by stress. But once the wheels were in motion, meditation alone didn’t stop it. That’s where the AmLactin and Vitamin A helped where no other products did.
If you’re battling with this stuff, you’re not alone. It’s a shitty thing to have boils or pimples plaguing your skin. It’s tough when you’re in it, because it seems like it will never get better, but it can.
Don’t give up – things can change and your skin can get clear. Give some of these things a try and comment with your or contact me here.