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An itchy anus happens when the delicate skin in and around the opening in your bottom (anus) becomes irritated or inflamed. It’s also known as pruritis ani or anal itching.

Summary introduction

The main symptom of an itchy anus is an intensely itchy bottom that you’re desperate to scratch. It may get worse at night or after you’ve opened your bowels. Scratching makes the itch worse so it’s important to resist.

An itchy anus is a very common condition and can happen to anyone at any age.

In most cases, an itchy anus lasts a short time and clears up on its own without treatment.

An itchy anus that’s severe, lasts more than a few days, or keeps coming back, could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Causes of itchy anus

Many things can irritate the skin around your bottom (perianal area) and trigger an itchy anus. These include:

  • Not washing or drying your perianal area thoroughly
  • Sweating a lot
  • Sensitivity to perfumes and dyes used in soaps, toilet paper and wipes

An itchy anus can also be a symptom of these common conditions:

  • Diarrhoea or incontinence
  • Threadworms – more common in children
  • Itchy piles (haemorrhoids)
  • A skin condition, such as eczema, contact dermatitis or psoriasis
  • Thrush – a fungal infection
  • Herpes or warts – sexually transmitted infections

Rarely, an itchy anus can be a sign of anal or bowel cancer, although you’ll probably have other symptoms too.

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about symptoms

You can book an appointment with a Spire private GP today.

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Getting a diagnosis for itchy anus

If your itch is severe, has lasted more than a few days, or your bottom seems infected, see your GP.

They’ll examine your bottom and ask about your medical history and everyday habits.

If they’re not sure what’s causing your itchy anus, they may refer you for an internal examination of your bottom, such as a colonoscopy.

See your GP urgently if you’re bleeding from your bottom, have bloody diarrhoea or a discharge of pus as well as an itchy bottom.

Treatments for itchy anus

In most cases, you won’t need medical treatment for an itchy anus. Things you can do to treat and prevent an itchy bottom include:

  • Gently cleaning the area with warm water and drying it carefully after passing a stool
  • Keeping the area cool with loose, cotton clothing
  • Avoiding excessive sweating
  • Not using perfumed or medicated soaps, wipes or toilet paper
  • Keeping your stools firm and regular by eating a fibre-rich diet

If these don’t work, your GP may recommend:

  • Medication to treat the underlying problem, such as treatment for itchy piles or a fungal infection
  • Mild corticosteroid creams to reduce swelling
  • Antihistamine tablets to relieve symptoms so you don’t scratch at night