Itchy bottom (pruritus ani) is characterised by a strong urge to scratch the skin around your anus. Pruritus ani is the medical term for a persistent (chronic) itchy feeling around the anus. The main symptom is an urge to scratch your anus, which is difficult to resist. The urge to scratch may occur at any time. However, it tends to be more common after you have been to the toilet to pass a bowel motion and at night (particularly just before falling asleep).
The anus is the opening at the lower end of the digestive system, where solid waste leaves your body.
Symptoms for Itchy bottom
Anal itching is probably not a common topic of conversation; however, this symptom can be bothersome and impossible to ignore. Anal itching, also known as pruritus ani, can sometimes be just a normal itch. If you’re experiencing itchiness on a regular basis, there could be a more serious cause to consider.
• Itching around the anus
• Pain from traumatized skin
Causes of itchy bottom
In many cases, the cause is not clear. In some people, it may be that something is irritating your skin. This may be an ointment that you are using, or your sweat, or the toilet tissue that you use but you cannot pinpoint the cause exactly.
In other people, it is thought to be caused by a small amount of stool leaking from the anus and irritating the nearby skin, causing itching. Also, an itchy bottom may affect some people with problems such as depression. As itchy bottom is a symptom rather than a condition itself, many cases have an underlying cause, for example:
• Dermatitis: There are several skin conditions that can cause itchy skin anywhere on the body, including the anus. If you’ve already been diagnosed with dermatitis or psoriasis, this is the most probable cause of your itching.
• Parasitic: There are a variety of parasitic infections that can cause anal itching symptoms, such as pinworms, a common intestinal parasite.
• Sexually transmitted: Certain sexually transmitted infections and diseases can lead to anal itching. Genital warts are one.
• Diabetes: Candidiasis is linked to diabetes, which can cause itching. Patients with diabetes can also experience anal itching without candidiasis.
• Inflammatory bowel syndrome: The causes of inflammatory bowel syndrome and anal itching are sometimes the same.
• Irritants: Certain foods, like dairy products, spicy foods, and nuts, can irritate skin during bowel movements. Itching may occur as the skin heals.
• Eating habits: Poor eating habits can lead to constipation. Hemorrhoids can develop as a result of itching.
• Pin worm infection: Pin worm infection, also known as Enterobiasis, is the most common worm infection in the United States. It can be passed from one person to another if contaminated fecal matter is ingested. The most common symptom of this infection is itching around the anus, especially at night.
• A bacterial infection: Such as those that cause streptococcal infections
• A skin condition: Such as atopic eczema, where the skin becomes red, dry and flaky
• Hemorrhoids (piles): Swellings that contain enlarged and swollen blood vessels in and around the anus
In children, an itchy bottom is often caused by threadworms.
But not all cases of itchy bottom have an identifiable cause.
An itchy bottom can be made worse by:
• woolen clothing or blankets
• soiling yourself
• stress or anxiety
If your symptoms persist or you can’t pinpoint a cause, you need to schedule an appointment with your physician. He or she will ask you a few questions and likely examine the area.
Your physician may order a test to determine if an infection or a parasite is present. If a cause still cannot be determined, you may need to see a dermatologist or proctologist. In some cases, the cause of anal itching is never diagnosed. Instead, different treatment plans are explored until a solution is found.
Treatment of anal itching depends on the cause of the problem. It may include taking self-care measures such as nonprescription anti-itch cream or treating an infection or hemorrhoids.
If your symptoms are worse at night, an oral antihistamine might help until an anti-itch cream takes effect.
With proper care most people experience relief from anal itching. See your doctor if the itching persists.
Treatment at home
Treating itchy bottom
An itchy bottom is usually easy to treat at home. Some ways of easing an itchy bottom include:
• keeping your bottom clean and dry
• avoid using scented soaps
• use soft toilet tissue
• avoid scratching
Your GP can prescribe creams or ointments to help relieve your symptoms while the above self-care measures are taking effect.
• Thorough cleansing: After bowel movements, use water to cleanse the area instead of toilet paper, which can further irritate broken skin. Make sure to dry thoroughly using a clean towel.
• Don’t scratch: Scratching can make the anal itching worse as it irritates the skin. If you need relief, press a cold compress to the area.
• Wear cotton: Wearing cotton undergarments and loose clothing will help to keep the area dry and avoid irritation.
• Ointments: You can apply thin layers of zinc oxide ointments to keep the skin dry and protected. If you’re suffering from hemorrhoids, coconut oil is a natural topical that can speed up healing.
• Maintain regular, firm bowel movements. If soft stools or frequent bowel movements are a problem, gradually adding fiber to your diet may help. Fiber supplements such as psyllium (Metamucil) and methylcellulose (Citrucel) also may help.
• Wear white cotton underwear that don’t bind. This helps keep the area dry. Avoid wearing pantyhose and other tight fitting garments because these can trap moisture.