Itchy bottom is normally a symptom rather than a condition, and is characterised by a persistent strong urge to scratch the skin around the anus. Many cases of itchy bottom are a result of a bacterial infection, a skin condition like eczema or haemorrhoids but sometimes the cause is never identified. The exact numbers of those who experience itchy bottom are not known but it has been found to affect four times as many men than women. Also, while it can affect any age group, people aged 40-60 are more likely to experience the condition.
Causes of itchy bottom include a number of infections including certain STIs, thrush and threadworms. Itchy bottom can be a sign of problems with the digestive tract such as chronic diarrhoea or constipation, anal fistulas (a small tract between the anus and skin surface) and anal fissures (a tear or ulcer). In very rare cases itchy bottom can be a sign of gastrointestinal cancer but it is important to note that the vast majority of cases of itchy bottom are not caused by cancer and you should only consult your doctor about this possibility if symptoms also include significant weight loss and changes in toilet habits. In addition, itchy bottom can be the side effect of certain medications and could also be the result of a skin condition like psoriasis.
Even if the underlying cause is not identified, there are simple self-care steps that can be initiated to help stop the itch. These include keeping the bottom clean and dry and avoiding foods such as:
It can also help to make your diet rich in fibre to stop further irritation to the anus by loose stools. Medication can also help in the form of over the counter ointments and creams to sooth the itching and reduce inflammation. Excessive washing can actually increase irritation even though this may be the sufferers natural response as it can remove the skin’s natural oils.
Most itching will not require medical care but it is important to seek help from a doctor is the itching is severe or lasts for longer than a few weeks, if there is bleeding or discharge from the rectum and if there does not seem to be an obvious cause.
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