Eczema can show up all over the body, and your rear end is no exception. For MyEczemaTeam members who often experience flare-ups in this area, it can feel very “disheartening, frustrating, and challenging.”
Eczema is also called atopic dermatitis, and it’s uncommon to have outbreaks on the buttocks. Adolescents and adults usually have eczema show up on the skin behind their knees, inside their elbows, and on their scalps. People often experience symptoms like itchy skin on their hands and feet as well. Regardless, if this is your first time with a rash on your buttocks, having irritated and inflamed skin can feel unbearable if not managed correctly.
There’s no cure for eczema, but you can help keep the rash and itchiness away by following a consistent skin care routine, taking medications prescribed by your health care provider or dermatologist, and following a healthy eating plan. Taking efforts to minimize any triggers can also help make these outbreaks on this part of the body less likely to occur in the future.
Eczema flares can appear at any time and anywhere on the body. Certain types of eczema appear more frequently on the lower half of your body, including the buttocks. Perianal dermatitis (or perianal eczema), for example, can involve symptoms like itchy, burning, and oozing skin lesions in this delicate area. It’s typically caused by pathogens and other toxins passing through a damaged skin barrier.
Continue reading to learn about the three forms of eczema that affect the buttocks and their causes.
People with irritant-toxic perianal dermatitis commonly develop red patches and blisters on the skin on the buttocks. Patches that appear red or pink on people with light skin may appear purple or brown on people with darker skin tones. Irritant-toxic perianal dermatitis happens when irritants like unwiped feces come into contact with the skin. It can also happen from mechanical irritants, like excessive wiping with toilet paper or wearing tight clothing. Certain activities like riding a bicycle can also cause mechanical irritative dermatitis because of the friction happening during the activity.
The second type of perianal eczema is atopic dermatitis (also called eczema). Atopic dermatitis can occur anywhere on the body, and it might affect the skin on the buttocks.
In this scenario, the skin’s protective barrier might not work well due to too many internal proteins or problems with the structure of these proteins. Genetic and environmental factors may increase the risk and severity of atopic perianal eczema, such as having a family history of atopic dermatitis and food allergies.
The last type of perianal eczema is allergic contact dermatitis. As with atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis can happen on the skin on other parts of the body, but it’s called perianal allergic contact dermatitis when it affects the buttocks.
This type of eczema happens when your skin undergoes an allergic reaction to an irritating product or material. Ingredients from various products like soaps, lotions, toilet paper, or hygiene sprays may cause this skin reaction, usually within 48 hours.
Like any eczema flare, symptoms depend on the type of eczema on the buttocks. Common symptoms of eczema on the buttocks can include redness, itching, dryness, and small, raised bumps or patches. In more severe cases, the skin might become cracked, swollen, and even painful.
Irritant-toxic perianal dermatitis is the most common type of perianal dermatitis. It’s also the most likely to be asymptomatic (without symptoms). When there are symptoms, there’s usually redness and inflammation on the buttocks and potentially around the inner and upper thighs.
This type of perianal eczema also causes skin redness that often spreads to the scrotum or the inner folds of the vagina. People may also experience anal fissures and scratch mark scars. Over time, the skin may become thick with a leathery texture.
Perianal allergic contact dermatitis is the least likely of the three to occur. In this type, there will be splotches of red patches on the buttocks where the skin was exposed to the allergen.
Symptoms can flare up without warning. A member of MyEczemaTeam described days when they would unexpectedly wake up to bumpy and itchy patches of skin on their buttocks.
People with eczema rashes on their buttocks have said that it’s one area that’s hard to ignore. “I wish there was a cure. My butt cheeks feel tight, dry, itchy, and burning, which makes sitting uncomfortable,” describes a MyEczemaTeam member.
Eczema on the buttocks can happen only in that area, or it can be part of a larger flare-up all over the body. In addition to having eczema on the buttocks, members of MyEczemaTeam have said they experience boils and rashes on their legs and thighs and behind their knees. For this reason, one member talked about avoiding shorts and skirts because they feel embarrassed by the rash and scabs on their rear and surrounding areas.
If you notice symptoms like dry skin and itching on your buttocks, make an appointment with a dermatologist. They can help you understand whether it’s eczema or a different skin condition. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, treatments like topical medications may be able to help.
Sometimes, the discomfort of eczema on the buttocks can be eased by making certain lifestyle changes. One MyEczemaTeam member, for example, discovered with the help of a specialist that their perianal eczema flare-ups always coincided with their menstrual cycle.
While there’s no way to completely prevent eczema on your rear end, there are several management techniques to help minimize the pain and discomfort.
There’s research looking into treating eczema rashes, but not many have focused specifically on eczema on the buttocks. One science-backed treatment for anal eczema is similar to eczema management in general — adjusting your bathroom habits. The main focus is to use gentle, fragrance-free alternatives for your soaps and cleansers.
You may also want to consider taking baths instead of showers. MyEczemaTeam members discuss using a variety of gentle soaps like goat milk soap, Dove soap for sensitive skin, and oatmeal bar soaps. As always, check in with your dermatologist, who may have their own soap recommendations for your unique skin situation.
Harsh rubbing around the perianal area with soap or wiping with rough toilet paper is another irritant to the skin and a potential contributor to an eczema flare-up. Unscented baby wipes or soft wet washcloths are recommended to clean the region. Afterward, dry off by dabbing gently with cotton balls or a soft cloth.
According to the American College of Dermatology, rinsing off with cool or lukewarm water can help to get rid of trapped sweat after a hot day or when you’ve finished exercising. Rinsing sweat and bacteria from your skin and perianal area can help reduce possible irritation. After a bath or shower, experts recommend using a fragrance-free moisturizer to help prevent dry skin.
Tight clothing and materials like nylon and polyester make it easy for moisture to stay trapped in the genital and anal areas. They can also cause friction that irritates the skin.
Cotton underwear is breathable and helps keep the skin dry. Breathable underwear is especially important in the summertime, when you’re more likely to sweat, which can further bother the skin on your buttocks. Another clothing recommendation is to not wear pantyhose because they can lock in sweat and moisture around the buttocks.
Several MyEczemaTeam members also recommend investing in a good pair of cotton sheets to avoid further itching from eczema in general.
Over-the-counter medications like antihistamines and hydrocortisone may help curb the itching from irritated skin on your buttocks. The most common prescription medications for eczema and your best options for treating itchy rashes in that area are topical corticosteroids (steroids).
Topical steroids help decrease skin inflammation and relieve itching, giving your skin a chance to recover. Make sure to follow your dermatologist’s instructions — including how much and how long to apply it — when using steroid cream. Their strengths range from mild to super potent. According to the National Eczema Association, body areas that frequently rub together, like between the buttocks, absorb more of the topical steroid than other areas of the body.
Good alternatives for topical steroids are the topical immunomodulators tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. These medications work by calming the immune response in the skin and reducing inflammation. They are often prescribed when steroids might not be suitable or work well.
Managing eczema on the buttocks includes knowing your triggers, practicing good hygiene habits, and using the right treatments. By taking care of eczema through skin care routines and medical help, you can ease discomfort, help it heal, and keep your skin healthier in that area.
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Do you have eczema outbreaks on your buttocks? If so, how do you manage it? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.