When it comes to health and wellness, not everything is glamorous. In fact, some of it can be downright annoying and uncomfortable, especially when it involves your bum and nether regions. But let's be honest, if you're googling "why does my butt itch?!," you likely want an answer and relief ASAP.
"An itchy butt may feel sore, tender, or painful, and the affected area may appear to be red, swollen, and irritated," says Jeffery Tun, MD, a primary-care physician at New York Medicine Doctors. "The skin may also appear to be dry or flaky, and in severe cases, there may be cracking or bleeding around the affected area," he adds.
And believe it or not, pruritus ani, or anal itching, is a top reason for a visit to a dermatologist, says Faranak Kamangar, MD, a dermatologist, department chair at Dermatology at Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and founder of PSO Telehealth. "As with any part of the skin, if there is itching, scratching will worsen it," she explains. "Avoid scratching the area, as it can introduce bacteria and cause an itch-scratch cycle that becomes harder to treat."
Another pro tip for minimizing an itchy butt? Avoid wipes or scented soaps and products, Dr. Kamangar says. It's also best to practice good hygiene (fresh underwear and frequent bathing), avoid tight-fitting clothing, and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, Dr. Tun adds.
All that said, an irritated tush or itchy anus happens, and possible treatment depends on the root cause. Ahead, doctors weigh in on the 13 most common reasons your butt has been so itchy.
Why Does My Butt Itch?
An itchy butt can be triggered by a number of things, from eczema to food irritants to sexually transmitted infections. The accompanying symptoms can tell you a lot about what's causing the itch, though. Read on to understand more about what's causing your itchy butt and when to contact a doctor.
Eczema can cause extreme discomfort around the butt area and is characterized by dry, red, and itchy patches of skin, Dr. Tun says. Other symptoms may include scaling, crusting, and oozing, he explains.
If you've never had eczema before, talk with your doctor so they can do a skin patch test to diagnose the specific cause. From there, a physician may suggest specific moisturisers or medicated creams to repair the skin and calm the itching, per the Mayo Clinic.
Psoriasis is another skin condition that can cause itchy and painful patches on your butt, Dr. Tun says. "It is caused by an overactive immune system and can result in silvery scales and red patches on the skin," he explains. The itchy condition also tends to go through cycles and is most commonly found on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you suspect your itching is due to psoriasis, a doctor can biopsy the skin to rule out other skin disorders and then prescribe ointments, creams, or oral or injectable medications.
One of the most common reasons for an itchy bum is from chemical irritants found in wipes, Dr. Kamangar says. While growing in popularity, wipes often contain chemicals that can irritate the sensitive area and form an allergy, she explains.
In the same vein, harsh soaps, bubble baths, and detergents can also cause irritation due to chemicals, Dr. Tun says. So if you've recently added a new product to your bathroom or hygiene routine, stop use immediately and see if the itching subsides. If symptoms persist, schedule a visit with your doctor.
A sweaty backside is sometimes unavoidable, but it may be the culprit behind your itch, Dr. Kamangar says. In fact, sweat-induced itch is especially common if you're wearing tight clothing like shorts or leggings for an extended time. When this happens, the moisture becomes trapped, which sets up the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to thrive, sometimes even causing an infection, she explains.
Certain foods can lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhoea, which can lead to irritation and itching around the butt area, Dr. Tun says. In particular, spicy foods, coffee, tea, milk, chocolate, and alcohol can irritate the anus and cause itching, according to Harvard Health. If you notice your butt is extra itchy after eating certain foods, try an elimination diet or talk with your doctor.
Anal fissures are tiny tears around the anus that are caused by constipation, diarrhoea, or childbirth and result in itching and/or pain around the butt, Dr. Tun says. Additionally, if your discomfort gets worse during a bowel movement, this can also be a sign of anal fissures.
Most anal fissures get better with simple treatment such as increased fibre intake or soaking in a warm bath, but if your symptoms persist, a doctor may prescribe prescription medication or, occasionally, surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In contrast to anal fissures, your itching may be caused by hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins around the anus often caused by pressure on the rectum from diarrhoea, chronic constipation, or straining to poop, Dr. Tun says.
Hemorrhoids are also fairly common, considering that three out of four adults will experience them from time to time, per the Mayo Clinic. If you do have a hemorrhoid, a doctor will examine the area for unusual growths and prescribe the appropriate treatment. In the meantime, a high-fibre diet, over-the-counter topical treatments (including hemorrhoid cream or suppositories), warm baths, and/or oral pain relievers can also help manage symptoms.
It may skeeve you out, but pinworms are tiny parasites that live in the intestines and lay eggs around the anus, Dr. Tun says. People often get infected by person-to-person contact or touching an infected area, per the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you experience extreme rectal itching that often leads to difficulty sleeping, visit your doctor. From there, the CDC suggests two doses of medication that will be given two weeks apart to prevent reinfection.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Sexually transmitted infections are more common than you may think, with 374 million STIs occurring each year worldwide, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A slew of symptoms can come with an STI diagnosis like pain with sex, genital warts, genital swelling, vaginal bleeding, and foul discharge, but anal itching is another common sign, Dr. Tun says.
If you suspect an STI, visit a healthcare provider or clinic for a physical exam and STI testing. If the diagnosis is positive, you may be given oral or injectable antibiotics or antivirals, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
"Certain medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease can cause itching in the butt area as a result of increased sugar levels in the blood," Dr. Tun says. Liver disease can also cause itching due to the buildup of bile acids, he adds. If you have a diagnosed chronic disease or ongoing medical condition, talk with your doctor about a specific treatment plan to mitigate symptoms.
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungus and can result in itching, redness, and discharge, Dr. Tun says. More specifically, the infection is caused by candida, which thrives in warm, moist environments like your anus or vagina, per the Mayo Clinic.
Aside from an itchy anus, you may also experience a burning sensation during sex or while urinating, redness or swelling of the vulva, and thick, white discharge. Visit your doctor if you present yeast infection symptoms, and they will perform an external and internal exam before prescribing the appropriate treatment.
It's less common, but Dr. Kamangar says lichen sclerosus can cause an itchy butt. The long-term skin condition is most common in postmenopausal women older than 50 and causes the skin to become thin, white, and wrinkly, she explains. The condition often runs in families, and it may be triggered by problems with your immune system, hormonal imbalances, or past skin damage, according to Cedars Sinai. Lichen sclerosus is not contagious, but it can be very uncomfortable, so talk with your doctor to discuss treatment if you present symptoms.
It's rare, but anal itching can be a symptom of more serious conditions like anal cancer, Dr. Tun says. Because of this, it's important to seek medical attention if the itching persists for longer than two weeks or is accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling or bleeding, he explains.
The Bottom Line
An itchy butt can be an extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant experience, but there is no need to be embarrassed. If your itching persists for more than two weeks or if there is swelling, pain, rash, or bleeding in the area, Dr. Tun says it's time to visit your doctor. Additionally, if your symptoms worsen or are severe enough to interfere with daily life or sleep, Dr. Kamangar recommends checking in with a healthcare provider.