This is why your anus itches

An itch around your bottom is uncomfortable and often very embarrassing.

If you have an anal itch, it may be hard to fight the urge to scratch. But scratching will only make the problem worse. Doctors can’t always find a reason for it, but some health problems or habits, or your diet, may trigger it.

Bathroom Habits

If you don’t wipe well after you poop, what’s left behind can cause itching and burning. Gently clean the area with a wet piece of dye-free, unscented toilet paper. Pat dry with a soft cloth or toilet paper. If the area is very irritated, use a hair dryer set on low to dry it. (Be sure to hold the dryer a safe distance away.)

Being ‘Too’ Clean

Wiping too hard can cause itching or make it worse. Don’t use soap, hot water, medicated powders, perfumed sprays, or deodorants, either. They can destroy the oily skin barrier that protects this sensitive area.

Your Diet

If you drink coffee, you may be more likely to have anal itching. That cup of joe may loosen your anal muscles, and that can let stool leak out, triggering itch. Other things that may cause anal irritation or itching include:

  • Tea and cola
  • Energy drinks and beer
  • Chocolate and nuts
  • Citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy
Your Underwear

If yours are tight or made of synthetic fabrics, you might have a moisture problem down below. Switch to well-fitting all-cotton ones. They absorb better. Change them every day or anytime they get damp, like after exercise. Wash them in fragrance-free detergent.

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Your Stools

Passing lots of watery ones and wiping often can irritate the area. You also can itch and have pain if you’re constipated. More fluids and fiber in your diet can help keep you regular. If that doesn’t work, talk with your doctor. She may suggest other diet changes or medications to get things back on track.

Hemorrhoids

These are swollen veins in your rectum or anus that can burn and itch. Straining when you poop or pressure during pregnancy can cause them. Sitting in warm water (a sitz bath) for 15 minutes several times a day may help. Try one after you poop. Drink plenty of water daily and get fiber in your diet so stools are softer. Call your doctor if you notice blood or have pain during a bowel movement so he can rule out more serious conditions.

Anal Fissures

Tiny cuts or sores (fissures) can open up inside your anus and cause pain and itching. You’re more likely to get these if you’re constipated and a hard or large stool tears the lining. Other causes include long-term diarrhea and an inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease.

Anal Fistula

This is a tunnel that connects a serious infection inside your anus with skin on the outside. Fluids can leak out and irritate the skin, which triggers pain and itch. Crohn’s disease, cancer, trauma, and radiation can raise your chances of infections and fistulas. If you think you may have one, see your doctor.

Infections

A fungus, like the one that causes most vaginal yeast infections, can also cause anal itching. And certain kinds of bacteria can, too. For example, a staph skin infection can happen almost anywhere, including the area around your anus. And the same kind of bacteria that causes strep throat can trigger a red, itchy rash around the anus. This is more common in kids than adults.

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Warts

The human papillomavirus (HPV)  is a sexually transmitted disease that causes anal warts. They grow inside and around your anus and may spread to your genitals. Itching is a common symptom. If you think you have anal warts, see your doctor. Without treatment, they can grow large and more may show up. Untreated warts can make you more likely to get anal cancer, too.

Pinworms

You may not want to know about this one. It happens when you swallow or breathe in the eggs of tiny worms. They get in your digestive system through contaminated food and things like bed linens, bathroom fixtures, toys, and sandboxes. It’s more common in children. The itching usually happens at night, when a female worm lays eggs around the anus. You may see them in your underwear or in the toilet after a bowel movement. They look like tiny pieces of white thread. If you or your child has pinworms, your whole family may be treated for them.

Scabies

A tiny mite nicknamed the “human itch mite” causes this rash. The bugs burrow into the top layers of your skin to feed. People usually get scabies from skin-to-skin contact. It spreads quickly where people spend a lot of time close together, like in day-care centers, dormitories, and nursing homes. Sharing clothes, towels, and bedding can spread it, too. Like pinworms, your doctor may suggest treating the family if one member has it.

Psoriasis

If you have this skin condition, it’s possible to get patches of it where the sun doesn’t shine. The skin around your anus may be red but not scaly. It can itch like crazy, and you may have pain during bowel movements, too. Other skin conditions, including eczema and seborrhea, can cause anal itch as well.

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Antibiotics

You may need them to treat an infection, but some can kill the “good” bacteria that live in your bowels. You need those to keep your gut in natural balance, so diarrhea can be a common side effect. You also may be more likely to get a yeast infection while taking antibiotics. Ask your doctor if eating yogurt or taking a probiotic supplement may help.

Other Health Problems

Conditions that affect your whole body can affect your rear end. These include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Leukemia and lymphoma
  • Kidney failure or liver disease
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Anemia (not enough iron in your blood)
  • Anxiety and stress

If your bottom is bothering you, and the itch doesn’t go away, see your doctor to find out what’s going on.

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