What Is Anal Bleaching & Do I Have To Do It?

If you're curious about your anus in any capacity, chances are you've looked at it in the mirror at some point. And if you pay attention while watching porn or having sex IRL, you'll realize that not all butts look the same on the inside or the outside — and maybe the skin around yours is a little darker than the rest of it. This is totally normal, and usually caused by friction or irritation, though some women are more prone to it because of genetics, says Carolyn Deluccia, MD, an OBGYN in New York City. Any place on your body that's creased, like your armpits or under your knees, can also get darker, says Jessica Gordon, a certified esthetician at JLJMedical Spa. It also depends on your ethnicity, and some women may notice that their skin gets darker as they age, through pregnancy, or when they experience hormonal changes, says Marie Jhin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Asian Beauty Secrets. People can lighten any of these areas to make them look like the rest of their skin — it's your booty, your choice. And though it's not medically necessary, there are safe and not-as-safe ways to go about doing it. Talk to a doctor before deciding to get it done.
First off, make sure that you're not actually noticing hyperpigmentation, or uneven dark spots on your skin from an underlying condition or sun damage. Whenever you notice some new-to-you spots or moles on your skin, it's a good idea to see a dermatologist who can tell if there's some other reason for the darkening. But let's say you've checked off that box and your concern is solely cosmetic (and again, we're definitely not saying anyone's backside needs to be bleached). Is anal bleaching 100% safe for your skin? That depends. Be aware of the dangers and potential side effects.
Anal bleaching is a non-medical procedure that involves topically applying a "blend of acids" to your skin which lessen the melanocytes, the melanin-forming cells that give your skin color, Gordon says. "It's similar to a chemical peel on the face to reduce sun damage and retract melasma," she says. But isn't putting acids on your skin kind of bad? It's not more dangerous than getting a chemical peel on your face, she says, but there is a chance your skin could react to the products. "This is solely based on the patient and their lifestyle and medical conditions," she says — which is another good reason to talk to your doctor before getting the treatment. Often, the products used in anal bleaching contain kojic acid or hydroquinone, which are safe when used in small quantities. Both can cause irritation, depending on your skin type. In rare cases, improper use of these products can cause other, more rare skin conditions, Dr. Jhin says. Of course, any time you use a new product — in a salon or at home — there's a risk that you could have an allergic reaction which could cause burning or scarring, so that's definitely something you want to consider no matter which new treatment you're trying. Do your research before choosing a salon.
But the thing is, since anal bleaching is a non-medical procedure, that means a doctor typically isn't administering the treatment, says Cindy Barshop, the founder of V-Spot, a medi-spa in New York City that focuses on vaginal treatments. For this story, we contacted a number of dermatologists, gynecologists, and other MDs to get their opinion, and most of them said they do not have background on this procedure, because it's not something that's typically done in a doctor's office.

At Barshop's salon, gynecologists perform all of the treatments (with the exception of waxing and vaginal steams), and they've actually developed their own chemical-free skin lightening method that involves using a laser. "Bleaching is kind of the old way to do it," Barshop says. If you opted to go this route, first you'd have a consultation with a gynecologist who would examine the area that you're choosing to lighten — for most people, that's the area around the genitalia or between the butt cheeks around the anus. Then, you'd use a topical ointment with kojic acid (which research has shown is safe in quantities under 1% for leave-on products) to break up the melanin in your skin. Four to six weeks later, you'd come into the spa for the laser treatment, which further breaks up the melanin and takes 15 minutes. Supposedly, these results can last for years. And remember: You don't "need" to do this.
So, what's the bottom (hah, sorry) line? Your anus is fine, however it looks, and the skin around it doesn't need to be "fixed" just because it looks different. That said, if you do want to try some sort of skin-lightening treatment for the skin around your anus, the important thing is that you go to a place where a doctor is administering the treatment, whether it's via bleach or a laser, so they can make sure you don't have another disorder causing hyperpigmentation, says Dr. Jhin. Ask the tough questions, and you might just love your new asshole — or at least the way it looks.

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