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Anal itching - Treating itchy bottom

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Most cases of itchy bottom respond well to

simple self care measures and, if necessary,

treatment with


Following some simple self care measures (see below) for around two months should help prevent your bottom from itching.

If you still have an itchy bottom after two months, or if your itchy bottom returns, you may need to follow this advice for longer.

Keep clean and dry

If you have an itchy bottom, you should keep your bottom as clean and dry as possible.

The best way to do this is to use water to gently clean your anus and the skin surrounding it. You should clean your bottom in this way after every bowel movement and before going to bed each night.

You can use soap to clean your bottom but make sure it is mild and un-perfumed so it causes less irritation to your skin. Wash all of the soap away afterwards.

After washing, gently dry your bottom. Avoid rubbing the area vigorously because it may irritate your skin. Instead, gently pat the skin dry using a soft towel. If you find it easier, you can dry your bottom using a hair dryer on a low heat setting.

When you are away from home, you can use damp toilet paper after passing stools, before gently patting your bottom dry.

If you have a tendency to sweat, or if your bottom becomes very moist, putting a cotton tissue in your underwear will help absorb the moisture around your anal area.

Self care measures

As well as keeping your bottom clean and dry, there are a number of steps you can take to help keep your itchy bottom under control. You should:

  • use soft toilet tissue
  • bath or shower daily
  • wear loose fitting cotton underwear and change your underwear daily
  • only put underwear on when your bottom is completely dry
  • avoid wearing tight clothing and women should wear stockings instead of tights to prevent getting too hot
  • use a light duvet at night so you do not get too hot
  • avoid using scented soaps, bubble bath, perfumes or powders around your anus
  • keep your fingernails short to limit damage to your skin from scratching
  • wear cotton gloves while sleeping so that if you scratch you cause less damage to your skin

It may be difficult but you should resist the urge to scratch your bottom. Scratching the area is likely to make your itchy bottom worse and will increase the urge to itch.


Some foods may make your itchy bottom worse. If the urge to scratch your bottom is greater after eating certain foods, try reducing the amount of them that you eat.

Foods that may make your itchy bottom worse include:

  • tomatoes
  • spicy foods
  • citrus fruits, such as oranges
  • nuts
  • chocolate
  • dairy products
  • coffee
  • excessive amounts of liquids, such as milk, beer or wine 


Your GP may recommend you follow a diet that keeps your stools well formed and regular. 

This means your stools will not be loose (runny), but you will not need to strain when you have a bowel movement.

Loose stools can irritate your anus. Straining to pass hard stools may cause haemorrhoids to develop. Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swellings that contain enlarged and swollenblood vessels in and around your anus.

Your GP may recommend you increase the amount of fibre in your diet because eating more fibre will make your stools softer and easier to pass. Fibre can be found in:

  • grains - such as in wholegrain bread
  • pulses - edible seeds that grow in a pod, such as peas, beans and lentils
  • oats - found in some breakfast cereals
  • fruit and vegetables 

Read more about why fibre is important.


While waiting for the above self care measures to take effect, your GP may prescribe medication to help ease your itchy bottom.

However, you should not use topical treatments (those applied directly to your skin) for more than two weeks because they may start to harm your skin if used for long periods.

Soothing ointments

Your GP may prescribe an ointment or cream to soothe the skin around your anus. You will usually have to apply it in the morning and at night, as well as after each bowel movement.

Topical corticosteroids

If the skin around your anus is sore and inflamed due to itching, your GP may prescribe a mild topical corticosteroid (an ointment that contains steroids). This is applied directly to the affected area to relieve inflammation and ease the urge to scratch.

For most people, using a topical corticosteroid will help ease the itch. However, it can sometimes make the itching worse. Speak to your GP immediately if, after using topical corticosteroids, you find your itchy bottom is getting worse.

Read more about topical corticosteroids.


If your sleep is disturbed due to itching at night, using an antihistamine may help.

Antihistamines are medicines that work by counteracting the action of histamine (a chemical released during an allergic reaction). Some antihistamines also have a sedating effect (make you drowsy).

Your GP may be prescribe chlorphenamine or hydroxyzine. These should be taken at night and should not be used for longer than two weeks because after this time the sedating effect may no longer work.

If you are prescribed a sedating antihistamine you should take care because:

  • they can affect your ability to drive or operate machinery
  • the sedating effect may be stronger if you drink alcohol

Treating an underlying cause

When your GP is diagnosing itchy bottom, they will try to determine an underlying cause.

If your GP identifies a cause, such as a bacterial infection or skin condition, it will also need to be treated in order for your itchy bottom to be properly managed.

For example, a bacterial infection may need to be treated with antibiotics. If the underlying cause is left untreated, your itchy bottom may return.

Medical Review: June 19, 2012
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