Q: Hi, Doctor. I want to know what causes the anus to itch and what can someone do to relieve the itching?
A: I watched a comedy skit once where a lady sat on the floor and shuffled forward in a rather embarrassing way because she had an itch on her bottom! That was funny to watch but in real life, would have been downright embarrassing for both the person with the problem and the person watching.
Anal itch is itching in and around the anus and could be due to:
- Infections: These could be bacterial (streptococcal or staphylococcal, fungal (the organism responsible for candidiasis), parasitic (due to worms like thread worms or even scabies), viral or due to sexually transmitted infections.
- Personal care products: Using products that irritate the skin eg perfumes, toilet paper etc
- Skin conditions like psoriasis
- Other medical conditions like haemorrhoids, long term diarrhea, long term constipation, diabetes, kidney failure etc
- Medications which may either cause the itch or make an already existing itch worse eg peppermint oil or even creams used for haemorrhoids.
A once in a while itch may not be a problem, but you need to get your doctor to take a look if you find that the itches are associated with bleeding, is persistent and/or anal area appears infected.
Given the wide array of causes, treatment is dependent on identified cause. If infections are the problem, they need to be treated, if due to personal care products, try switching what you use. Specific medical conditions need to be treated and medications can be changed or dosage adjusted. Your doctor will advise. If your itch appears more at night, an anti-histamine medication to stop the itch will be given in the first instance.
In the meantime, try to avoid scratching. I can almost see the look on your face, like , ‘yeah, right! It’s so easy not to scratch and yet I decided to write about it!’. I know, I know, but scratching just irritates the skin around the anus some more and may make you more prone to infections. So, to deal with the itch urge, use can place a cold compress there (just put some ice cubes in a small towel, cover it up and place where needed).
- You also need to cut your finger nails to ensure that even if you do scratch while sleeping, you do not hurt yourself.
- Be sure to cleanse thoroughly after having a poo. Plain tissue may hurt so you may want to consider using water to wash up and or wet a big ball of cotton wool…please don’t flush this oh!!! 😀
- Dress comfortably…cotton underwear and loose clothing help to prevent friction where you don’t need it J
- Avoid constipation and diarrhea. Just keep your tummy contents moving smoothly by eating right and exercising
- Avoid personal care products that cause irritation like heavily perfumed soaps, tissues etc
I hope this helps you.
Have a fabulous week ahead 😀