Why Does My Bum Itch?
Q: Why Does My Bum Itch?
A: Itchy bum, also referred to as pruritus ani, is a very common symptom in men and women. It manifests itself as irritation and inflammation of the anus and the surrounding area, and the severity of the itch can be to such an extent so as to cause problems with sleep. Itching is usually worse after passing faeces and during bedtime. Factors which also make the itch worse include sitting for long periods of time, excess moisture in the anal region, stress, anxiety, and wearing nylon underwear.
An itchy bum may be caused by a number of factors and conditions:
- Eczema and other types of dermatitis
- Skin abrasions, such as that caused by cleaning the area excessively or roughly
- Irritants, such as those found in scented soaps, detergents and body sprays
- Using coloured toilet paper (may contain irritant)
- Using rough toilet paper (can be abrasive to the skin)
- Irritants in foods, such as those found in hot sauces and spices
- Undigested, rough food items, such as seeds and corn
- Severe diarrhoea
- Some medicines and antibiotics
- Laxative overuse
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Thrush and fungal infections
- Parasites and worms
- Anal fissures
A doctor will be able to diagnose the cause of a bum itch. However, sometimes the cause is unclear and the itch will be referred to as idiopathic pruritus ani (meaning of unknown cause). In this case treatment will focus on controlling the itch and providing symptomatic relief. This involves proper anal cleanliness, such as washing the anus after passing faeces and before bedtime; keeping the area dry; avoiding the use of possible irritants such as scented soaps; avoiding the consumption of certain foods, particularly nuts, dairy products, spicy foods, tomatoes, coffee and citrus; using soft toilet paper; and resisting the urge to scratch as much as possible. Some prescription medications and creams can also be used to relieve the symptoms.
An untreated itchy bottom can lead to complications, as scratching the area can damage the skin and lead to infections. Other complications include lichenification (thickening of the skin in the area), ulceration (breaking of the skin), and excoriation (the breaking away of the top skin layer). However, these can be avoided by consulting with a doctor as soon as symptoms appear. It is also extremely important to consult with a doctor if in addition to the itch, you also have lumps or bleeding.