An itchy anus, also known as pruritus ani, can be an annoying and embarrassing problem.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:
If lifestyle changes don't help, euroClinix offers treatments for haemorrhoids.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 is a rare type of cancer which affects the anus. HPV infections cause most types of anal cancer. The symptoms present as:
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.
Certain lifestyle factors can also contribute to an itchy, irritated anus. Common triggers include:
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.
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.
You should speak to your doctor if you experience long-lasting symptoms or the following red flags:
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