Itchy bottom (pruritus ani) is characterisedby astrong urge to scratch the skin around youranus.

The anus is the opening at the lower end of the digestive system, where solid waste leaves yourbody.

Causes of itchy bottom

As itchy bottom is a symptom rather than a condition itself, many cases have an underlying cause, for example:

  • a bacterial infection such asthose that cause Streptococcal infections
  • a skin condition such as atopic eczema , where the skin becomes red, dry and flaky
  • haemorrhoids (piles) swellings that contain enlarged and swollenblood vessels in and around the anus

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

You may feel awkward, but it's nothing to be embarrassed or worried about, as this is one of the most common examinations GPs carry out.

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

Treating 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
  • avoidusing scented soaps
  • use soft toilet tissue
  • avoid scratching

Your GP can prescribe creams or ointments to help relieve your symptoms while the above self-care measures are taking effect. 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 abacterial infection or piles, it will also need to be treated.

Read moreabout treating anitchy bottom .

Complications of itchy bottom

Frequently scratching your bottom may damage or tear the delicate skin around your anus. This maylead toproblems such as:

  • thick and leathery skin (lichenification)
  • sore and broken down skin (ulceration)
  • the top layer of skin being worn away (excoriation)
  • infection

The earlier these complications are diagnosed and treated, the quicker you'll recover. You should visityour GP if the skin around your anus changes or feels painful.

If the cause of your itchy bottom can't be identified and treated, it may last for long periods of time (known as chronic itchy bottom). This may cause youto feel embarrassed, anxious or depressed.

As the urge to scratch is often worse at night, your sleepmay also be disturbed, leaving you feeling tired during the day.

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

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 4 Jan 2017