Itchy bottom - Causes 

Causes of itchy bottom 

Haemorrhoids

An expert explains what haemorrhoids are, who gets them, and how to get rid of them.

Media last reviewed: 30/04/2013

Next review due: 30/04/2015

The cause of itchy bottom is not always known. However, it can sometimes be a symptom of another problem or underlying condition.

Infection

An itchy bottom may be a sign your body is trying to deal with an infection. The infection may be:

  • bacterial - such as the streptococcal bacteria that causes streptococcal infections or the staphylococcal bacteria that causes staphylococcal infections
  • fungal - such as the Candida albicans fungus that causes vaginal thrush (an infection that causes irritation and swelling of the vagina)
  • parasitic - such as threadworms (small worm parasites that infect the intestines) or scabies (tiny mites that burrow into the skin)
  • viral - such as the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores

An itchy bottom can sometimes be a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

If you have had unprotected sex and you think there may be a chance you have an STI, you should visit your local sexual health clinic for advice, testing and, if necessary, treatment.

Gastrointestinal conditions

Gastrointestinal conditions affect your digestive tract (your mouth, throat, stomach, intestines and anus).

Gastrointestinal conditions that may cause an itchy bottom include:

  • haemorrhoids (piles) - swellings in and around your anus that contain enlarged and swollen blood vessels
  • anal fistula - where a small channel (tract) develops between your anal canal (the last section of the large intestine) and the surface of your skin, near the anus
  • anal fissure - a tear or ulcer (open sore) that develops in the lining of the anal canal
  • sphincter incompetence - where the sphincter (the ring of muscle that opens and closes your anus) stops working properly, causing bowel incontinence (leaking stools)
  • long-term diarrhoea - passing loose, watery stools
  • long-term constipation - an inability to completely empty your bowels

Anal and bowel cancer

In rare cases, an itchy bottom can be a symptom of a gastrointestinal cancer, such as anal cancer or bowel cancer.

Although most cases of itchy bottom are not caused by cancer, it is important your GP rules out all possibilities.

Anal cancer is rare, with around 930 cases diagnosed in the UK each year.

In the UK, bowel cancer affects more than 36,500 people a year, and is the second most common type of cancer in women and the third in men. Over 80% of cases occur in people 60 years of age or over.

If you do have cancer you are likely to have other symptoms as well such as:

  • weight loss
  • changes to how often you go to the toilet

Read more about anal cancer and bowel cancer.

Skin conditions

Some dermatological (skin) conditions can affect any area of skin on your body, including the skin around your anus.

Skin conditions that can cause itchy bottom include:

  • psoriasis - where red, flaky, crusty patches of skin develop because your skin cells reproduce too quickly
  • contact dermatitis - where your skin reacts to certain substances, known as allergens, causing your skin to become inflamed (red and swollen)
  • lichen sclerosus - is a long-term skin disorder that causes itchy or sore white spots to develop on the skin around the genitals
  • atopic eczema - where your skin becomes red, dry and flaky

Other conditions

Systemic conditions affect your whole body and they can sometimes make your bottom feel itchy. Systemic conditions include:

  • diabetes - a long-term condition caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood
  • kidney failure - where your kidneys stop working properly
  • iron deficiency anaemia - where there are a reduced number of red, oxygen-carrying blood cells, resulting in tiredness and lethargy (lack of energy) 
  • an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) - too much thyroid hormone in your body

Medication

Some types of medication, including those applied directly to your skin (topical), may make your bottom feel itchy.

For example, if you use a cream to treat haemorrhoids, it may irritate the sensitive skin around your anus and make the itching worse.

Some topical medicines may also cause contact dermatitis (red, itchy skin) if used for long periods of time.

Medicines that may cause itchy bottom or make your symptoms worse include:

  • peppermint oil - which is sometimes used to help relieve intestinal or stomach cramps
  • long-term use of local anaesthetics - medicines that numb a specific part of your body
  • glyceryl trinitrate - which is often prescribed as a topical cream to treat anal fissures and may cause itching 
  • long-term topical corticosteroids use - medicines applied directly to the skin to help reduce inflammation

If a medicine you are taking is causing itchy bottom, your bottom should itch less after you have completed the course of medication.

Never stop taking a prescribed medication unless advised to do so by your GP or other qualified healthcare professional responsible for your care.

Speak to your GP if you are taking a medicine on a long-term basis and it is causing itchy bottom. They may be able to prescribe an alternative.

Page last reviewed: 21/06/2012

Next review due: 21/06/2014

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

grh395 said on 03 January 2013

This topic needs a bit of typo correction/ editing in few places but defiinitely in the section:
Anal and bowel cancer
.....
In the UK, bowel cancer affects more than 36,500 people a year, and is the second most common type of cancer in women and the third in men. Over 80% of cases occur in people 0 years of age or over

...people of 0 years of age or over!!!

Otherwise it's very helpful thanks

Thanks

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Skin conditions: a visual guide

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