An itchy butt can strike anytime, and there’s nothing you’ll want more than to give it a good scratch. But you might want to think twice about doing so–especially if you’re among company.
“Anal itching is quite common, and for some people, it can feel incredibly frustrating,” said Mitchell Bernstein, MD, an associate professor of surgery and director in the division of colon and rectal surgery at NYU Langone Health. “Some people even start scratching in their sleep, and of course, too much scratching just makes it worse.”
The disorder is known as pruritus ani, which translates into “itchy anus” in Latin. There are two categories an itchy anus can fall into. Some people have primary pruritus ani, which means their anus is itchy for no specific reason. Secondary pruritus ani is when the itch is caused by an anorectal condition such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, bacterial infections, etc.
Below are a few reasons as to why you might be experiencing pruritus ani.
7. You’re Not Wiping Enough
When it comes to hygiene, it’s safe to say you don’t want to slack off. A lack of proper hygiene can cause itching and irritation due to flecks of fecal matter remaining on the anus. The best thing you can do if you believe you have some unwanted remnants is to jump in the shower and cleanse yourself with soap. However, be sure to avoid using the same soap you use on your face and body, as this can lead to other issues.
6. You’re Wiping Too Much
Yes, there is such a thing as wiping too much, and this can lead to other unwanted issues. For instance, this can cause the tender skin around the anus to become itchy, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. “Moreover, some toilet papers are rough, and others are easily crumbled,” the foundation states. “Tiny bits of paper trapped in the anal skin can be irritating.” If you believe you’re wiping too aggressively, you may want to consider an alternative way to clean yourself, such as a bidet if you have one. If you don’t, try a shower instead.
Another cause of pruritus ani is sexually transmitted infections, particularly herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, according to Ehsan Ali, MD, primary care physician in Beverly Hills, Calif. These STDs are common, especially in people who engage in anal sex without the use of condoms, says Ali. STDs cause inflammation in the rectal area, which can cause itching. Herpes or HPV can cause warts to appear and further prompt itching and burning. STDs can also cause rashes, discharge, or penile and testicular pain. If you suspect STDs are the culprit, see your doctor immediately to determine proper treatment.
Oftentimes the compulsion to scratch down below can be due to eczema, a skin condition that appears to be a red, scaly rash that can cause persistent itching. While the cause of eczema is unknown, it has been linked to an overactive response by the immune system and can be triggered by allergies and asthma, according to Alan Park, MD, dermatologist, and founder of DermWarehouse. This condition can also be aggravated by external factors, such as certain weather conditions or household products like soap and detergent. Park says that the problem is usually treated with topical steroid cream, which can take care of the itching very quickly since it lowers inflammation.Related: Do You Wipe Properly?
3. Fungal Infections
Yes, fungal infections! The one place where you would least like to have fungus is the place where you can get a lot of it. It’s no secret that fungus lives on our skin; however, the place fungus thrives the most in is in warm, moist, airless areas like your underwear. While the body usually does a good job of fighting off the invaders, it can be off its game if you’ve been sick lately, overstressed, or get particularly sweaty down there. For treatment, your doctor will most likely prescribe topical or oral anti-fungal medication. You can also try to swap your current underwear for something more breathable.
2. Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent can also be the cause of an itchy rash on your behind. The irritating chemicals found in laundry detergent can lead to contact dermatitis, which is a skin condition that causes red rashes and mild to severe itching. The reaction is more likely to occur in spots where your clothing gets damp with sweat, like your groin. Prevent contact dermatitis by switching to fragrance-free and dye-free detergent.
1. DietRelated: 10 Foods That Help You Poop
Your diet can also play a huge role in why you find yourself trying to scratch that itch. For instance, coffee is known to loosen your anal muscles, and that can cause stool to leak out, thus triggering the itch. Other causes include tea, cola, energy drinks, beer, chocolate, nuts, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy foods, and dairy.