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.
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 and can cause a skin infection, 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 and can cause anal pain.
An itchy anus is common, however it isn't known exactly how many people have it at any one time. It has been suggested that one to five people in every 100 have an itchy anus. It is more common in men than women and while it can affect anyone at any age, including children, it most often affects people aged 40-60.
Different conditions can cause an itchy anus. If a cause is identified, an itchy anus is medically called secondary pruritus ani. If a cause is not identified, it is medically called idiopathic pruritus ani.
Many things can irritate the skin around your bottom (perianal area) and trigger an itchy anus. These include:
An itchy anus can also be a symptom of these common conditions:
There are other less common conditions that can cause an itchy anus. They usually make you feel unwell and cause other symptoms too. These include:
Certain foods and drinks can cause an itchy anus if they aren't digested properly. These include:
Some medications can also cause an itchy anus. These include:
You can book an appointment with a Spire private GP today.
Scratching an itch irritates the skin and makes it more itchy. This can trigger a vicious cycle. Other factors can contribute to this cycle. You may clean an itchy anus with a scented soap, which contains an ingredient that irritates your skin and worsens your itch. You may consequently clean your anus more with the same soap, triggering a vicious cycle.
See your GP if:
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 anus.
In most cases, you won’t need medical treatment for an itchy anus. Things you can do to treat and prevent an itchy anus include:
Make sure you do not:
If these don’t work, your GP may recommend:
If you are using creams or ointments to treat your itchy anus, don't use more than one cream or ointment at the same time. Also, don't use any cream or ointment for more than a week as they can irritate your skin, which can cause itchiness.
If the cause of your itchy anus is known, it is easier to identify the most appropriate treatment and relieve your symptoms. Most people respond well to treatment. However, some people can develop a persistent problem with the itchiness recurring.
What causes an itchy bottom at night?
If you have an itchy bottom and it gets worse at night, you may have threadworms. This is especially common in children with four in 10 children having threadworms at some point. There is an effective treatment for threadworms, so if you are concerned, see your pharmacist or GP.
Is petroleum jelly good for an itchy anus?
Petroleum jelly is good for an itchy anus as it protects the skin from excess moisture or sweat, which can cause irritation and itchiness.
How do you tell if you have threadworms?
If you have threadworms, you will have itchiness around your anus (bottom) that gets worse at night. You may also notice threadworms in your stools — they will look like pieces of thread.
How do you kill threadworms naturally?
The most effective treatment for threadworms is a specific over-the-counter medication, which a pharmacist can advise you on.
Without medication, threadworm can be treated by following very strict hygiene measures to destroy any threadworm eggs in your home while waiting for the threadworms in your body to die — they live for five to six weeks. Strict hygiene measures will need to be followed for at least this long, which includes disinfecting surfaces, keeping fingernails clean and short, strict body hygiene, and washing sheets, soft toys, sleepwear and towels. If your threadworm infection persists, it is best to get treated with medication.
How long do threadworms last if not treated?
Threadworms live in your gut for about five to six weeks. However, before they die, female threadworms lay eggs around your anus, which causes itchiness. These eggs can survive outside your body for up to two weeks, which means you can be reinfected if you do not follow strict hygiene measures.
How common is it for adults to get threadworms?
Threadworms are more common in children, with four in 10 children having threadworms at some point. However, if a child in a household has threadworms, it is likely that adults in the same household will catch it.