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Home / Haemorrhoids / Causes of an itchy bum

Causes of an itchy bum

Identifying the causes of anal itching and irritation

An itchy anus, also known as pruritus ani, can be an annoying and embarrassing problem. Research Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source shows that anal itching occurs in up to 5% of the adult population, and is more common in males than females.

There can be several reasons behind anal itching, but in many cases, there is no specific cause. Continue reading to learn more about the common causes and treatments available.


Haemorrhoids, or 'piles', are enlarged, swollen blood vessels that occur in and around the anus. Increased pressure in the area causes these veins to expand, for example when you are constipated.

Typical symptoms include itching, bright red blood when you poo, a lump in or around your anus, pain and discomfort, and feeling like your bowels haven’t completely emptied after you’ve gone to the toilet.

As constipation is the most common cause of haemorrhoids, the treatments aim to alleviate this. Read our tips below on how to prevent constipation:

Graphic showing lifestyle tips to prevent constipation

If lifestyle changes don't help, euroClinix offers treatments for haemorrhoids.

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Dermatitis and psoriasis

Skin conditions such as eczema/dermatitis and psoriasis can sometimes cause symptoms of anal itching.

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema which occurs when the body touches certain chemicals or irritants. Some fragrant personal care products used in the anal region or abrasive toilet tissue may trigger this condition.

Contact dermatitis usually improves or clears up completely once the substance that triggers the problem is removed.

Psoriasis is a common scaly skin condition which presents as red, scaly and thickened patches of skin. Flexural psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that affects the skin folds, genitals and the anus.

These skin conditions are often treated with a course of a topical corticosteroid and frequent application of emollients.

Curious about psoriasis?

Read more

Fungal infections

An anal yeast infection happens when Candida, a yeast-like fungi, infects the anus and the area around it. Candida is found in and on our bodies, but sometimes the balance of yeast and bacteria is disrupted. When this happens, Candida can grow out of control, causing skin infections.

Symptoms include:

  • Intense anal itching
  • Red and irritated skin
  • A burning sensation
  • Anal pain and soreness

You can treat fungal infections with anti-fungal creams or ointments that you can purchase over the counter. To prevent anal yeast infections, wear loose cotton underwear for better airflow - as fungi grow in warm environments.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Genital warts are a common STI caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), specifically types 6 and 11. This is most commonly passed on through sexual contact however, there have been rare cases of transmission from hand warts.

Genital warts appear as small, skin-coloured lumps that occur in the genital or anal area. They may not always cause symptoms, but can sometimes be itchy, red or uncomfortable. Developing warts after HPV infection does not always happen immediately and may take some time.

Chemical treatments such as Condyline, Warticon and Aldara are often prescribed to treat genital warts.

Think you have genital warts?

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Pinworms (threadworms)

If anal itching occurs especially at night, the cause may be pinworms. Pinworms (also called ‘threadworms’) are small, thin, white, thread-like worms that infect the large intestine of humans. School-aged children commonly experience them; however, they can affect anyone of any age.

At night, the female adult pinworm lays eggs on the skin around the anus and perianal region. The movement of the pinworm is thought to cause the itch. Scratching the anus easily transfers the eggs to the fingers and under the fingernails. From here, the eggs are transported into the body when eating, shaking hands or biting nails.

Often the only symptom is itching and discomfort. Along with itching, there may also be irritation and disrupted sleep.

Various OTC treatment options are available for pinworms. In addition to the treatment, it is also important to prevent re-infection by maintaining good hygiene.

This includes:

  • Washing clothing, bed linen, and towels in hot water
  • Vacuuming and damp-dusting the home
  • Having a bath, or wash around the anus each morning to remove any eggs laid overnight
  • Washing your hands well and often
Graphic showing tips on how to prevent the spread of pinworms

What medical conditions can cause an itchy anus?

The causes of an itchy bottom are not often serious. But rarely, it may be a sign of conditions such as diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or anal cancer.


Diabetes is a condition that causes your blood sugar levels to become too high. The main symptoms of diabetes, include:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Peeing often, especially at night
  • Genital itching or getting thrush frequently
  • Blurred vision

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a long-term condition that affects the stomach and intestines. It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, and bouts of diarrhoea and/or constipation. IBS has a variety of causes including genetics, dietary factors, and inflammation of the digestive tract.

Anal cancer

Anal cancer is a rare type of cancer which affects the anus. HPV infections cause most types of anal cancer. The symptoms present as:

  • Bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding)
  • Itching around the anus
  • Mucus discharge from the anus
  • Lumps inside or around the anus

The symptoms of anal cancer are similar to those of haemorrhoids or anal fissures. If you experience any unusual symptoms it's important to see your doctor to check for cancer.

What lifestyle factors can cause an itchy anus?

Certain lifestyle factors can also contribute to an itchy, irritated anus. Common triggers include:

  • Certain food and beverages
  • Poor hygiene
  • Personal care products

Certain food and beverages

Undigested or partially digested foods may irritate the anal region when you go to the toilet. Products known to cause this include citrus fruits, spicy foods and chilli peppers, milk and caffeine.


Good hygiene after using the toilet is important. Any poo remaining in contact with the skin after a bowel movement can irritate it and cause an itchy bum. To avoid this, clean your bottom well with water or unscented gentle wipes after going to the toilet.

Personal care products

Some soaps, moisturisers, or toilet tissue, may irritate the skin around the anus in some people. Avoid using fragrant products and opt for fragrance-free options.

lifestyle factors that can cause an itchy anus

When should you seek medical help for an itchy bottom?

You should speak to your doctor if you experience long-lasting symptoms or the following red flags:

  • The itch keeps returning
  • You have blood mixed in with your poo (this may be dark red or black)
  • You've noticed a change in your bowel habits (especially with no identifiable cause)
  • You notice an unusual change in or around your anus
  • You have pain in your bottom
Medically reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 15-12-2023

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Further reading

What are the symptoms of haemorrhoids (piles)?

What are the symptoms of haemorrhoids (piles)?

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
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