Itchy bottom

An itchy bottom is a symptom rather than a condition. It makes you want to scratch the skin around the opening where poo leaves your body (your anus). If you've had an itchy bottom for more than a few days, you should see your GP to try to find the cause.

Causes of an itchy bottom

Many cases of an itchy bottom have an underlying cause, for example:

  • infection and infestation – such as staphylococcal bacterial infections and scabies
  • a skin condition – such as atopic eczema or psoriasis
  • haemorrhoids (piles) – swellings that contain enlarged and swollen blood vessels in and around the anus
  • anal fissure - a tear or open sore (ulcer) that develops in the lining of the anal canal
  • a chronic condition - such as diabetes
  • some medication (ask your pharmacist or GP if you have this symptom and you think medication might be the cause)
  • certain foods and drinks - including spicy food, citrus fruits, tomatoes, nuts, dairy products (including milk), coffee, beer, and wine

In children, an itchy bottom is often caused by threadworms. But 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 or anxiety

When to see your GP

See your GP if you've had an itchy bottom for more than a few days. They may ask about:

  • how often you wash and whether you use creams, powders or soaps around your anus
  • the duration and pattern of your itching – such as whether your symptoms are worse at night or after eating certain foods
  • other symptoms – such as bleeding or other discharge from your anus

Your GP will usually examine the skin around your anus to try and identify the cause. They may ask to carry out a digital rectal examination (DRE) to rule out a more serious underlying condition such as cancer.

If necessary, you may be referred to a specialist for further investigation and treatment.

Treating an itchy bottom

An itchy bottom is usually easy to treat at home. Some ways of easing an itchy bottom include:

  • keeping your bottom clean and dry
  • avoid using scented soaps
  • use soft toilet tissue
  • avoid scratching

Your GP can prescribe creams or ointments to help relieve your symptoms while you are doing the self-care measures above.  

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, the underlying condition will also need to be treated.

Complications of itchy bottom

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 sore and broken down skin
  • the top layer of skin being worn away
  • 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.

Speak to your GP if your itchy bottom is making you anxious or depressed, or if it's significantly affecting your sleep.

The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.

For further information, read terms and conditions.

This page was published November 2017

This page is due for review October 2019

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