An itchy bottom (anus) is not usually a sign of anything serious. You can often do simple things yourself to ease the itching. Talk to your GP if the itching does not stop. In rare cases, it can be a sign of a bigger health issue.
An itchy bottom that's worse at night is often caused by threadworms, especially in children.
Children under 2, and pregnant and breastfeeding women cannot usually take medicine for threadworms. Contact your GP or midwife instead.
How to ease an itchy bottom yourself
gently wash and dry your bottom after pooing and before bed
wear loose-fitting cotton underwear
keep cool – avoid clothing and bedding that makes you overheat
have cooler, shorter showers or baths (under 20 minutes)
eat plenty of fibre – such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread, pasta and cereal to avoid runny poo or constipation
do not scratch – if you cannot stop, keep your fingernails short and wear cotton gloves at night
do not strain when you go to the toilet
do not use scented soaps, bubble bath or bath oil
do not use perfumes or powders near your bottom
do not eat spicy food or drink lots of alcohol and caffeine – these can make itching worse
A pharmacist can help with an itchy bottom
Ask your pharmacist to discuss this in the private area of the pharmacy.
They can suggest:
- creams and ointments you can buy to help ease itching
- medicine and things you should do at home if it's caused by threadworms
Using creams and ointments for an itchy bottom
Do not use:
- more than 1 cream or ointment at the same time
- any cream or ointment for longer than a week – they can irritate your skin and make things worse
Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP if the itchiness:
- does not ease after 3 or 4 days
- keeps coming back
- worries you or makes it hard to sleep
- comes with itching elsewhere on the body
What happens at your appointment
Your GP will try to work out the cause of your itching. They might need to check your bottom (rectal examination).
Depending on the cause, your GP might:
- suggest trying things to ease it yourself for a little longer
- prescribe medicine or stronger creams and ointments
Tell your GP immediately if a medicine, cream or ointment makes the itching worse.
Sexual health clinics can help with an itchy bottom
You can also contact a sexual health clinic if you think your itchy bottom might be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) – for example, if you've had unprotected sex.
Common causes of an itchy bottom
There's not always a clear cause of an itchy bottom. If it gets better quickly, it might have been caused by something that does not need treatment. For example, sweating a lot in hot weather.
If it lasts longer, you might be able to get an idea of the cause from any other symptoms you have. But do not self-diagnose. See your GP if you're worried.
|Possible causes||Other symptoms with itchy bottom|
|Possible causes threadworms, especially in children||Other symptoms with itchy bottom Gets worse at night, worms in poo (they look like small pieces of thread)|
|Possible causes piles (haemorrhoids)||Other symptoms with itchy bottom Lumps, bright red blood and pain when pooing|
|Possible causes diarrhoea or incontinence||Other symptoms with itchy bottom Poo leaking or pooing you cannot control|
|Possible causes Sores, swelling or irritation||Other symptoms with itchy bottom Ringworm or an STI like genital warts|
|Possible causes Itching elsewhere on the body||Other symptoms with itchy bottom Skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis|
|Possible causes While using long-term medicine||Other symptoms with itchy bottom Side effect of steroid creams, some gels and ointments for anal fissure, and peppermint oil|
It's unusual for an itchy bottom on its own to be related to something more serious. But rarely, it may be a sign of something like anal or bowel cancer. It's important to get it checked by your GP.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE