Itchy Butt Causes and Treatment (2023)

It can be uncomfortable to find that you're experiencing itchiness around your anal area—one of the most private and difficult-to-talk-about places on your body.

However, anal itchiness is a common problem: It's known as pruritus ani, the technical term for irritation around the anus that causes the desire to scratch.

If you're experiencing an itchy butt, the first thing to know is that it's most likely a symptom of another issue—not a disease or condition in itself. And because itching can lead to scratching, tiny cuts, pain, and swelling, it's important to know what's causing the itching to happen.

Specifically, anal itching may occur due to a number of other conditions, such as:

  • Skin conditions
  • Infections
  • Food and clothing irritants
  • Chronic health conditions

Here is more information about these and other common causes of itchy butt and how you can find relief.

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Itching in the perianal region (around the anus) often depends on how you wipe after a bowel movement. Not wiping well enough can leave behind fecal matter and moisture, said Brian Kim, MD, Vice Chair of Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

On the other hand, too much wiping—or the wrong kind of wiping—can also lead to irritation and itching. Vigorous scrubbing, soap (especially scented), and pre-moistened wipes should all be avoided as they can cause more irritation.

Therefore, when wiping after a bowel movement, it is best to use unscented toilet paper moistened with warm water. Additionally, when washing your butt, use only warm water. Keep the area dry by lightly patting it with a towel.

Skin Conditions That Might Cause an Itchy Butt

A few chronic skin conditions can cause inflammation and itching anywhere on the body, including the perianal region.

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Psoriasis

Psoriasis causes itchy red patches and silvery, flaky scales to form on the skin. It is responsible for about 5% to 8% of anal itching cases. And while psoriasis can't be cured, a dermatologist can help keep it under control by prescribing a brief course of topical steroids and long-term doses of other topical medications.

Anal Eczema

Anal eczema is an inflammatory disease that can be treated with steroids or other anti-itch ointments or creams. Anal eczema is likely to have an underlying or secondary disease. Since the skin on the butt is more sensitive, the pain and itchiness can be more severe than other kinds of eczema.

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is another condition that can cause anal irritation. This condition causes white, wrinkled skin changes in the labia and perianal region. Additionally, lichen schlerosus typically responds to a 6-8 week course of topical steroids. If left untreated, these lesions can progress into skin cancer, so they should be biopsied if they don't respond to treatment.

Contact Dermatitis

Allergies can also trigger eczema-like rashes, Dr. Kim said. You may, for example, be allergic to the laundry detergent you use to wash your clothes.

"If itching starts suddenly out of the blue, one of the first things you should ask is whether you could be using or wearing something that's causing irritation in that area," Dr. Kim added.

Common causes of contact dermatitis are soap, detergent, perfume, latex, fragrances, preservatives, and certain foods. Moist wipes, condoms, and lubricants may also cause contact dermatitis.

Anal itching is sometimes associated with tight clothing or materials that don't breathe well. "We know that sweat can cause irritation anywhere on the body with prolonged exposure, and in this area especially, it can cause a lot of itching or even a yeast infection," Dr. Kim said.

Therefore, because sweaty environments can worsen the irritation, it's important to wear loose-fitting clothing that allows air circulation.

Friction from clothing can also cause hair follicles to get inflamed and infected—a condition called folliculitis—that looks like tiny red bumps or pimples. Folliculitis can occur all over the body, including on (and in) your butt.

Food Irritants

What you eat can affect how your butt feels. "Maybe you have an unusual diet—like it's very acidic, or you eat a lot of a certain irritant," Dr. Kim said. "A lot of people believe that making dietary adjustments can improve itching down there."

Certain foods can also contribute to diarrhea or anal leakage, making it more challenging to wipe thoroughly and causing irritation and itching. The following foods have been associated with anal itching:

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  • Caffeine (including coffee, tea, and chocolate)
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Citrus fruits and vegetables
  • Energy drinks
  • Nuts
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Spicy or acidic foods

However, adding more fiber to your diet can be beneficial in preventing anal leakage.

Pinworms are the most common type of worm infection in the United States. People get infected through person-to-person contact or by touching a surface contaminated with pinworm eggs.

Children can unknowingly touch a contaminated surface, put their fingers in their mouths, and swallow the pinworm eggs. The eggs then travel through the digestive tract and eventually migrate to the perianal area, causing itching and possibly infection.

The parasites are visible in an infected person's feces. To diagnose pinworms in children, healthcare providers will use clear cellophane tape and place it on the skin around the child's anus. The tape is then examined to identify pinworm eggs.

The infection mainly occurs in babies and young children; it can, however, spread to their caregivers and other adults. Still, pinworms can be eliminated with two doses of oral medication (available over-the-counter or by prescription), given two weeks apart to prevent reinfection.

Hemorrhoids or Anal Fissures

If your chronic itch gets worse—or turns painful—when you have a bowel movement, it could be hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

Hemorrhoids are caused by swollen veins in the anus, while anal fissures are tiny tears in the surrounding skin tissue—though they are sometimes mistaken for hemorrhoids. Both can cause tiny blood spots on your toilet paper, although you should see a healthcare provider if you notice significant blood in your stool.

"Hemorrhoids are actually very common, and a lot of people don't even know they have them," Dr. Kim said. "They just have itching down there and they don't know why." Anal fissures are also common, especially in infants, older adults, and people soon after childbirth.

Eating more fiber, staying hydrated, and finding other ways to relieve constipation and soften your stool can improve both conditions. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can also treat hemorrhoids.

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Sometimes anal itching can be the result of an infection.

Yeast Infections

Yeast infections can also occur in the perianal region—especially in people who have a compromised immune system or are taking antibiotics. Fungal infections make up about 40% of secondary infectious anal itch cases—most of which are caused by yeast.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Anal itching can also be a symptom of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhea, herpes, and anal warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Symptoms usually occur around the anus when a person has participated in anal sex.

There are treatments available for all STIs, and those treatments will vary. For example, anti-viral medication can help keep herpes under control, while treating anal warts may require topical creams, cryotherapy, or even surgery.

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Scabies

Scabies is a common skin condition caused by a tiny bug called the human itch mite. It's very contagious and requires a prescription medication to treat. Scabies can result in an itchy rash and sores all over the body—including around the anus and genitals.

On the other hand, it's probably not scabies if you only have itching in the perianal area. Scabies typically presents on the wrist, ankle, armpit, and between fingers or toes.

"If you're really looking for a specific cause of isolated anal itching, it's most likely something else," Dr. Kim said.

Certain long-term health conditions can contribute to anal itching and inflammation. For example, conditions like diabetes and autoimmune diseases can leave people more vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infections.

The condition can also appear alongside liver disease, chronic renal failure, and leukemia. Having vitamin or mineral deficiencies have been associated with anal itching as well. Some examples include iron as well as vitamin A and D deficiencies.

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Some digestive disorders are included too. These types of disorders, like Crohn's disease, can cause diarrhea and stool leakage, which can irritate the skin around the anus.

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Nerve Damage

"We have some suspicion that some of this type of itching is neurologic," Dr. Kim said. "As patients get older, a lot of them have lower back injuries, and many people probably have minor damage to the nerves coming out of their spinal cords."

These problems can cause twinges of pain or a nagging itch in the area around the buttocks and anus, Dr. Kim added. Also, this type of itch typically does not present with any rash or lesion.

Treatment for this type of nerve damage varies, Dr. Kim said, but may include physical therapy, surgery, or behavior modification.

Having an itchy butt isn't usually a reason to jump to scary conclusions. But rarely, it can be a sign of cancer.

Both Paget's and Bowen's diseases are forms of skin cancer that attack the surface layer of the skin. Up to half of the people with Paget's or Bowen's disease experience anal itching. However, both of these diseases are rare and require a biopsy for diagnosis.

What To Do If Anal Itching Occurs

Because the causes of anal itching are so broad, it can be hard to know where to start. Dr. Kim said that talking to a healthcare provider is always a good option. You could also check with a dermatologist if you think your problem is more skin-related or a gastroenterologist if it seems more digestive.

Whatever you do, don't suffer in silence. "This type of itching can be so debilitating; I've had patients who were thinking about quitting their jobs," Dr. Kim said. "And any type of scratching can be embarrassing, but scratching in that area is even more socially unacceptable."

A chronic itch can be extremely frustrating, especially if you don't know the root cause. Fortunately, Dr. Kim said, many factors contributing to anal itching can be identified and treated, so people can get back to living their lives without distraction or irritation.

(Video) What is Anal Itching (Causes, Treatment & Home Remedies)

FAQs

What does it mean when your butt constantly itches? ›

Anal itching, also called pruritus ani (proo-RIE-tus A-nie), has several possible causes. They include infections, hemorrhoids and ongoing diarrhea. Skin inflammation, also called dermatitis, is another cause.

What's the best cream for itchy bum? ›

1. About hydrocortisone for piles and itchy bottom. Hydrocortisone is used in some medicines to treat: piles (haemorrhoids) inside or around your bottom (anus)

What can I drink to stop itching? ›

Water is great for your health in many ways, including itch relief. Drinking more water keeps your skin hydrated from the inside out and flushes out toxins that can cause irritation. Remember, caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating and can worsen itching.

What home remedy can I use to stop itching? ›

To help soothe itchy skin, dermatologists recommend the following tips: Apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack to the skin that itches. Do this for about five to 10 minutes or until the itch subsides. Take an oatmeal bath.

What is the best itch medicine? ›

Short-term use of nonprescription corticosteroid cream may temporarily relieve an itch accompanied by red, inflamed skin. Or try calamine lotion or creams with menthol (Sarna, others), camphor, capsaicin, or a topical anesthetic, such as pramoxine (adults only).

Which tablet is best for itching? ›

Medications that help relieve itching include: Antihistamines (allergy pills): Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), Claritin (loratadine), Clarinex (desloratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine). Anti-itch creams: Topical corticosteroids may be helpful for small itchy areas. like those from bug bites.

What diseases have symptoms of itching? ›

Itching on the whole body might be a symptom of an underlying illness, such as liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems, multiple myeloma or lymphoma. Nerve disorders. Examples include multiple sclerosis, pinched nerves and shingles (herpes zoster).

What cancers cause itching skin? ›

Itching is a common symptom of skin lymphoma, T-cell lymphoma, and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Itching is less common in most types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The itching might be caused by chemicals released by the immune system in reaction to the lymphoma cells.

Why does itching get worse at night? ›

At night, the body releases more cytokines, which are immune system proteins that create inflammation. This can cause itching or make itching worse. At the same time, the body's production of corticosteroids, which tame inflammation, declines.

Can diabetes cause itching in private parts? ›

Vaginal thrush (vulvovaginal candidiasis) can be a symptom of diabetes as high blood sugar levels can cause glucose to be excreted via the urine. Glucose in the urine can create a fertile breeding ground for yeast infections. Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections include: Soreness and itching around the vagina.

Is Vaseline good for itchy skin? ›

Petroleum jelly may help your skin and the medicines you take work better. It can ease inflammation and keep your skin moist. This can help you itch and scratch less. To get the most out of your petroleum jelly, use it on your skin when it's damp.

What cream can I use for itchy skin? ›

Beclometasone cream and ointment are used to treat itching, swollen and irritated skin. They can help with conditions such as: eczema. psoriasis.

› articles ›

How to relieve itching · Itchy skin, or what doctors call pruritus, can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Fortunately, many natural and home remedies can...

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https://www.aad.org › public › itchy-skin › itch-relief › re...
There are many reasons for itchy skin. It could be the result of a skin condition, such as eczema, shingles, hives, or psoriasis, or it could be a sign of a con...
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Does anusol stop itching? ›

This medication is used to treat minor pain, itching, swelling, and discomfort caused by hemorrhoids and other problems of the anal area (such as anal fissures, itching).

Is E45 good for itchy bum? ›

E45 anti-itch cream can be used to soothe itching on the external skin of the genitals and anus and can be applied to the breasts, but not immediately before breastfeeding.

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The 8 Best Remedies for Itching

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https://www.healthline.com › health › outdoor-health › be...
Anti-itch cream is one way to soothe itchy skin. You may consider trying a cream that contains hydrocortisone. This drug inhibits inflammatory responses in the ...

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