Having an itchy bum or an itchy anus can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable problem. However, anal itching is quite common and once the cause is discovered and treated, most people get complete relief.
An itchy anus, also called pruritus ani, is a common complaint. The itch, in or around the anus, can be extremely intense and persistent, causing a constant urge to scratch.
What causes an itchy anus?
There are many different possible causes for having an itchy anus, such as:
- leakage of poo (stool) from the rectum as a result of diarrhoea, constipation, diet, food intolerance or tears in the rectum
- infections such as herpes, bacteria or tinea
- intestinal parasites such as threadworms
- haemorrhoids (piles), warts, and in extremely rare cases, cancer of the anus
- excessive sweating
- skin conditions like psoriasis and contact dermatitis, which occurs when your skin is irritated by soaps, creams or perfumed or bleached toilet paper.
One of the most common causes of pruritis ani is overcleaning. Try to avoid using soap, shampoo or bubble baths in this area as they remove the natural protective oils. Long hot baths or showers can also be problematic.
Itchy anus self care
Check your symptoms with healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
There are numerous things you can try to ease the itching.
- While tempting, don’t scratch. This can make the itch worse, as the skin around the anus is easily damaged.
- Clean gently with warm water immediately after a bowel motion, then pat dry with a soft cloth. Don’t rub, as this has the same effect as scratching.
- Wear loose clothing made from natural fibres, such as cotton.
- Avoid irritating foods such as caffeine, alcohol, tomatoes, spices and citrus fruit.
- Choose sensitive skin care and hygiene products, such as perfume-free creams, soap substitutes and toilet paper.
- If you aren’t already doing so, eat healthily and include gentle exercises. This encourages regular smooth and firm stools.
When to see your doctor
Despite taking these measures, it’s important to see your doctor if:
- you have any anal bleeding
- you don’t know what’s causing the itch
- the itching is intense
- the itching lasts longer than two months.
Your doctor can ensure that rare and specific conditions (such as worms and anal cancer) aren’t overlooked, and can prescribe treatments for the cause of the itch.
Last reviewed: October 2017