Diagnosing itchy bottom 

You should visit your GP if you've had an itchy bottom for more than a few days.

Your GP will look at your medical history and ask questions to find out what may be causing your itchy bottom. They may ask:

  • about your washing habits, such as how often you wash and whether you use creams, powders or soaps around your anus
  • whether your symptoms are worse after eating certain foods
  • about the duration and pattern of your itching  for example, whether there's a specific time when itching is worse, such as at night 
  • whether other people in your family are also experiencing itching
  • whether you have other symptoms, such as bleeding or a liquid discharge, from your anus

Physical examination

It's likely that your GP will want to examine your bottom. You may feel awkward, but it's nothing to be embarrassed or worried about. Your GP will be used to carrying out this type of examination.

By examining your bottom, your GP will be able to gain a better understanding about what may be causing your itchy bottom and how to treat it.

Your GP will start by looking at the skin around your anus, to check for signs of cracking or inflammation and any bleeding. They will then carry out a digital rectal examination (DRE).

Digital rectal examination (DRE)

A DRE is an internal examination of your rectum (the last part of the large intestine, where solid waste is stored).

Your GP will insert a gloved, lubricated finger (digit) into your anus to feel for anything that may be causing your itchy bottom. It will also allow them to rule out serious conditions, such as anal cancer, which can sometimes cause pain and itching around the back passage (anus).

Try to relax when you have a DRE. It shouldn't cause any pain, but may feel slightly uncomfortable.

Referral

Your GP may refer you to a specialist for further investigation and treatment. The specialist you see will depend on what your GP thinks is causing your itchy bottom. For example, you may be referred to a:

  • dermatologist  a specialist in treating skin conditions
  • colorectal surgeon  a surgeon who specialises in conditions that affect the large intestine (colon) and anus
  • colorectal specialist nurse  a nurse who specialises in treating conditions that affect the colon and anus

Page last reviewed: 26/06/2014

Next review due: 26/06/2016