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Itchy anus

An itchy anus (or bottom) can be caused by a range of factors. In some cases, it may stop after a few days, but in others it might persist. If symptoms continue, a doctor should be able to help you find out what’s causing it.

  • Can be caused by several factors, including diet and hygiene
  • Sometimes a symptom of an infection
  • Underlying medical conditions can also be a cause

Our video consultation service enables you to speak to one of our doctors online about itchy anus. They’re available to provide professional medical advice from 9.30am to 4.30pm, five days a week. Click below to book an appointment and get started.

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Possible causes

There are several reasons why someone may develop an itchy anus. These range from diet and lifestyle factors, to infections and underlying medical conditions. 

Sometimes there isn’t a specific cause, and an itchy anus may go away after a day or two. But where symptoms persist, it could be that there is a preventable cause you can address, or a condition responsible you should seek treatment for.

Lifestyle factors and itchy anus

Certain foods can cause irritation in the rectum, and contribute towards anal itching. For example, spicy foods can aggravate the colon and loosen stools. When stools are thinner and more liquid-like, they’re more likely to leak out through the lower end of the bowel, and this can cause itching. 

Spicy foods can also be abrasive to softer tissues inside the colon and rectum, and cause irritation and burning as they pass through; this can result in itching as well. Sweet foods and fizzy drinks can have a similar effect.  

Bathroom habits can be a factor in itchy anus. If someone wipes too hard after going to the toilet, this may cause reddening and soreness around the rectum. Not wiping properly after passing stool can leave behind deposits which may also cause itching. Using scented or treated toilet paper can disrupt natural protective oils on the skin around the rectum, and lead to irritation.

Underlying conditions and itchy anus

Diarrhoea and constipation may sometimes be responsible for an itchy anus, but the symptom will tend to pass after a short time as the conditions improve.

Haemorrhoids can go unnoticed for long periods, and are another potential instigator of an itchy bottom. These are enlarged veins either in or round the anus. Pain and discomfort when sitting down are other symptoms commonly associated with this condition.

Numerous types of infection can cause an itchy anus too. Anal warts (HPV) may result in itching, as might a bacterial infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Threadworms, which are tiny parasites that can infect the large colon, often cause quite severe anal itching.

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may have some itching around the rectum, due to irritation in the area caused by having to go to the toilet more frequently.

It’s quite rare, but skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can spread to the skin around the anus and make it itchy.

Diagnosing the cause of itchy anus

It’s recommended that you speak to a doctor if your itchy anus doesn’t get better after several days. It’s likely they’ll ask you some questions about your diet, whether or not you use scented or perfumed products such as toilet roll or soaps to clean your bottom, or if you have any other symptoms (such as pain when passing stool, blood, or needing to go to the toilet more often).

If they cannot deduce the possible cause after discussing the above, a doctor might perform a rectal exam to check for the presence of internal or external haemorrhoids, or symptoms that may suggest an infection. If they cannot find an obvious cause, they may refer you to a specialist.

If you have had an itchy anus for a few days and are concerned, and are not sure what the cause may be, our online video doctor service may be able to help. You can book an appointment at a time that suits you, between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. We only work with GMC-registered doctors, who can provide advice, prescribe treatment where required, or make a referral for you if necessary.

Page last reviewed:  11/06/2020
Treatment

How an itchy anus is treated depends on the cause. In the majority of cases, no specific treatment will be required, and you may be able to reduce symptoms by limiting the cause.

What you can do yourself to help itchy anus

If you have developed an itchy anus after eating spicy food or sweets, or drinking alcohol, caffeine or fizzy drinks, reducing how much of these you consume in your diet can help to alleviate symptoms.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet with enough fibre is a good way to lower your chances of becoming constipated, and getting a painful or itchy bottom. 

Avoiding the use of moisturised or perfumed toilet roll (and using plain soft toilet roll instead) will also help to lower anal irritation.

How is an itchy anus treated?

If an itchy anus doesn’t resolve on its own after a few days, then it’s advisable to see a doctor. 

They might not need to issue any specific treatment if they think symptoms can be prevented by making a couple of adjustments (such as to diet or hygiene practices, as mentioned above).

Where treatment is needed, the specific medicine used depends on the cause of symptoms. Haemorrhoids, for example, can often be treated with topical corticosteroid ointment, cream or suppositories; however it’s possible for topical treatments to increase itchiness around the bottom. If this is the case, your doctor may decide to offer an alternative.

Similarly, eczema and psoriasis can also be treated with topical corticosteroids. 

If there are other symptoms present, such as bleeding or discharge from the rectum, then your doctor may advise further tests. This may involve STI testing if they suspect a bacterial infection is present. If this isn’t the cause (or suspected to be) they might refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

Our doctors are available online through our online video consultation service, if you are concerned about an itchy anus and want to get advice.

Page last reviewed:  11/06/2020
Questions and Answers

How long is it normal to have an itchy anus for?

There are a range of reasons why someone might develop an itchy anus. If the symptom has been caused by eating a specific food (such as a spicy meal), then it may not last for longer than a day or two.

Symptoms which go on for several days should ideally be seen by a doctor.

Is an itchy anus serious?

An itchy anus can occur for a number of reasons, but it’s unlikely that it will be related to anything serious provided there are no other symptoms present. A lot of the time, an itchy bottom will be related to something you have eaten or your bathroom and cleaning habits.

If you have other symptoms, such as bleeding when you go to the toilet, then you may have a condition that requires treatment or more investigation.

Can I get treatment for an itchy anus?

Self-care measures, such as eating a healthy diet and avoiding irritating foods, and keeping your bottom clean, are often enough to treat an itchy anus.

Treatment may issued if there is another cause, such as haemorrhoids or an infection. 

How can I prevent an itchy anus?

By eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fibre. It’s common for spicy foods, sweets and chocolate, nuts, dairy, coffee or alcohol to cause an itchy anus; so avoiding consuming too much of these can help to lower the risk of symptoms.

It’s also important to take care when wiping after going to the toilet. Applying too much pressure or wiping vigorously can cause irritation. 

Can I speak to a doctor about an itchy anus online?

Our doctors are available to consult online about an itchy anus. Click below to book an appointment at a time that suits you, and one of our medical professionals will talk to you via secure video link.

Page last reviewed:  11/06/2020

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