Rashes are kind of the worst, no matter where they are on your body. But getting one on your butt? That’s a whole ‘nother level of misery.
Inconvenience aside, they’re also a little concerning. Sure, that little bump on your butt could just be a pimple, but what if it’s a little more serious—say, a little bigger and redder and actually kind of painful? Can you treat it with an over-the-counter cream, or do you need to make an appointment with your doc?
Check out these signs of the most common rear-end rashes—along with their treatments—to help you decide.
If the rash is: a cluster of painful or burning red bumps and blisters
It’s probably: a herpes outbreak
Herpes is typically thought of as something that can only affect your mouth and genitals, but it can crop up on your butt, too, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
When the virus flares up—due to stress or illnesses that weaken your immune system—it can come to the surface of the skin, causing a rash, explains Zeichner. The rash will probably go away on its own in about a week, but it’s contagious through direct contact, so it’s best to avoid getting too intimate.
If the rash is: a red circle with a white scaly ring around it
It’s probably: a fungal infection
If you’ve ever picked up athlete’s foot (a.k.a. ringworm or tinea corporis) from your gym’s locker room, you’ve seen this fungus before—and, yeah, it can show up on your butt, too. It thrives in hot, humid environments.
If the rash is: red with tender, pimple-like bumps
It’s probably: folliculitis
Most people call this “butt acne,” but that’s not entirely accurate, says Zeichner. Those pimple-like bumps are actually superficial infections of the hair follicles—otherwise known as folliculitis.
Mild cases may be helped by washing with antibacterial soap. For recurring cases, Zeichner recommends washing with a surgical-grade cleanser or an acne-treatment wash with benzoyl peroxide. To prevent future outbreaks, keep the skin clean and dry and wear breathable fabrics.
If the rash is: red plaques covered in white scales and located inside your butt crack
It’s probably: psoriasis
In this chronic (and often genetic) condition, your body’s immune system “gets angry and attacks the skin,” says Zeichner. Psoriasis usually shows up on elbows and knees, but in between the butt cheeks is a common spot, too.
You can treat it with a 1% hydrocortisone cream, but prolonged use can damage your skin. If it’s not going away, check in with your doctor for a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory cream.
If the rash is: patchy and itchy, sometimes with tiny red bumps
It’s probably: eczema
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes the skin to dry out and crack—often caused by genetics, irritants, or allergies. These microscopic cracks develop in the outer layer of skin, so the key to treatment is hydrating and repairing the skin barrier with moisturizers and anti-inflammatory creams, according to Zeichner.
Eczema on your butt may be caused by irritating fabrics, detergents, toilet paper, or cleansing wipes, so be mindful of what’s coming into contact with your skin back there.