Introduction 

Itchy bottom is characterised by a strong urge to scratch the skin around your anus.

The anus is the opening at the lower end of the digestive system, where solid waste leaves your body.

The medical name for itchy bottom is pruritus ani.

What causes itchy bottom?

As itchy bottom is a symptom rather than a condition; many cases have an underlying cause. For example, itchy bottom may be caused by:

  • a bacterial infection – such as the streptococcal bacteria that causes streptococcal infections
  • a skin condition – such as atopic eczema (where the skin becomes red, dry and flaky)
  • Piles (haemorrhoids)  swellings that contain enlarged and swollen blood vessels in and around the anus

In children, an itchy bottom is often caused by worms. However, not all cases of itchy bottom have an identifiable cause.

An itchy bottom can be made worse by:

  • heat
  • woollen clothing or blankets
  • moisture
  • soiling yourself
  • stress 
  • anxiety 

Some people only have a mild itching sensation. For others, the urge to scratch can be intense.

Read more about the causes of itchy bottom

Should I see a GP?

See your GP if you've had an itchy bottom for more than a few days. They'll try to find out what's causing the problem and how to treat it.

You may need to have a digital rectal examination (DRE) to rule out more serious underlying conditions. During the examination, your GP will insert a gloved, lubricated finger (digit) into your bottom. There's nothing to feel embarrassed about. Your GP will be used to carrying out this type of examination.

Read more about how itchy bottom is diagnosed.

Treating itchy bottom

An itchy bottom is usually easy to treat at home.

Keeping your bottom clean and dry, not using scented soaps, using soft toilet tissue, avoiding scratching and making dietary changes are all ways of easing an itchy bottom.

Your GP can prescribe creams or ointments to help relieve your symptoms while the above self care measures are taking effect. Check with your GP or pharmacist about how long you should use them for.

If your itchy bottom is caused by an underlying condition, such as a bacterial infection or piles, it will also need to be treated.

Read more about treating an itchy bottom.

Complications

Frequently scratching your bottom may damage or tear the delicate skin around your anus. This may lead to problems such as:

  • thick and leathery skin (lichenification)
  • sore and broken down skin (ulceration)
  • the top layer of skin being worn away (excoriation)
  • infection

The earlier these complications are diagnosed and treated, the quicker you'll recover. You should visit your GP if the skin around your anus changes or feels painful.

Read more about the complications of itchy bottom.




Itchy bottom produces a very strong desire to scratch the skin around your anus 

How common is itchy bottom?

Approximately 5% of the population are thought to experience itchy bottom. It's four times more common in men than in women.

Itchy bottom can affect people of all ages, but it occurs most often in those between 40 and 70 years of age.

Itching

Itching is a common symptom that can be caused by a number of conditions. Find out why it happens and what you can do about it

Page last reviewed: 26/06/2014

Next review due: 26/06/2016