An itchy bum can almost certainly be found at the top of the ‘taboo health topics’ list, but don’t fret, it’s a common problem that may be contributed to a few minor causes. In some cases, the cause of an itchy anus is a bit more serious and may require treatment from a doctor or homeopath. Before continuing, and to remove the comical aspect of this article, let’s introduce the medical terms used for itchy bum: anal pruritus, perianal itching, or anorectal itching can be used interchangeably. Moving on.
Here are several common causes of perianal itching:
Dietary Irritants – Acidic foods and common allergens such as tomatoes, citrus, milk, alcohol, and spicy foods may leave the anus irritated upon exiting.
The Remedy: Individuals may find it helpful to track eating habits or get tested for food allergies and avoid foods that cause the condition to intensify or occur more frequently.
Poor Hygiene/Wiping – Sanaz Majd, MD explains, “Insufficient wiping or cleansing after a bowel movement can leave remaining feces that acts as an irritant to the surrounding skin. There is also a muscle surrounding the anus called the “anal sphincter” that tends to be weaker in some people, leading to fecal soiling.”
The Remedy: Wiping with a flushable wet wipe, cleansing with a Lavette/perineal cleansing bottle, or showering after bowel movements when possible will solve the problem. Be sure that your wipes do not contain irritants, alcohol, or fragrances that will worsen the issue. Consider applying a natural moisturizer like extra virgin coconut oil or an absorptive powder (non-medicated and fragrance free) as well.
Candida /Fungus– Constant moisture and certain diabetic conditions may cause candida or fungus to grow near the anus, leading to anorectal itching.
The Remedy: Dry well after showering, wear breathable undergarments, reduce intake of processed sugars, and harness the power of probiotics to bring balance to your digestive tract. Dr. Majd notes that using an over-the-counter antifungal cream for up to 30 days may get rid of candida. Also, tea tree essential oil is a powerful and fast-acting cure for external candida and fungi which can be applied topically with a cotton ball.
Anal Fissures and Hemorrhoids – Both anal fissures (tears in the skin) and hemorrhoids (protrusions of anal blood vessels) can lead to pruritus. Constipation, child birth, and heavy lifting are common causes.
The Remedy: Avoid scratching, which can cause or worsen tears. Prevent constipation by consuming a well-balanced diet full of fiber-rich foods and consider taking a probiotic supplement. Use an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or homeopathic hemorrhoid treatment such as: apple cider vinegar, aloe vera gel, or extra virgin coconut oil applied topically with a cotton ball.
Less common causes of perianal itching include – Pinworms, eczema, psoriasis, systematic medical conditions, use of antibiotics, stress, and in very rare cases, skin cancer.
Other Helpful Tips
Move Often – Staying in a seated position for extended periods of time can cause an increase in moisture/sweating and being in a seated position does not allow for aeration. Get up and move often throughout a long day at the office.
Switch to Unscented Soaps and Avoid Chemicals – Harsh chemicals and fragrances in soap, body wash, and moisturizers can irritate, inflame, and dry the anus and skin in general.
Reconsider Use of Steroid Creams – Apparently prolonged use of steroid creams can thin the skin and may lead to skin infections or complications, especially in infants and toddlers. Doctors suggest only using steroid creams for 7 to 10 days, under care and recommendation of a physician.
Here’s a final thought from Sanaz Majd, MD, “Although you might be ashamed to tell your doctor about this, it is very important that you go to your doctor for an exam to determine the cause of the itching. Please do not be embarrassed! This is our job, and we see this kind of thing all the time.”
Sources for this article include: