11 Reasons You Might Have an Itchy Butt—And How To Treat It

Skin conditions, digestive issues, and chronic diseases are all potential culprits for this common and uncomfortable problem.

It can be uncomfortable to find that you're experiencing itchiness around your anal area—one of the most private and difficult-to-talk-about places on your body.

However, anal itchiness is a common problem: It's known as pruritus ani, the technical term for irritation around the anus that causes the desire to scratch.

If you're experiencing an itchy butt, the first thing to know is that it's most likely a symptom of another issue—not a disease or condition in itself. And because itching can lead to scratching, tiny cuts, pain, and swelling, it's important to know what's causing the itching to happen.

Specifically, anal itching may occur due to a number of other conditions, such as:

  • Skin conditions
  • Infections
  • Food and clothing irritants
  • Chronic health conditions

Here is more information about these and other common causes of an itchy butt and how you can find relief.

Hygiene Issues

Itching in the perianal region (around the anus) often depends on how you wipe after a bowel movement. Not wiping well enough can leave behind fecal matter and moisture, Brian Kim, MD, Vice Chair of Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Health.

On the other hand, too much wiping—or the wrong kind of wiping—can also lead to irritation and itching. You don't want to be too vigorous. Go gentle on this sensitive area.

Unscented toilet paper moistened with warm water works well when wiping after a bowel movement in general. If you have an itchy butt, avoid washing with soap, especially scented soaps. Warm water alone does the trick. Make sure to dry the area by lightly patting it with a towel.

Some Skin Conditions

Chronic skin conditions can cause inflammation and itching anywhere, including the perianal region.


Psoriasis causes itchy red patches and silvery, flaky scales to form on the skin. It accounts for about 5% to 8% of anal itching cases.

Psoriasis can't be cured, but there are ways to help keep it under control. For example, a dermatologist can prescribe a brief course of topical steroids and long-term doses of other topical medications.

Anal Eczema and Contact Dermatitis

Anal eczema is an inflammatory disease that can be treated with steroids or other anti-itch ointments or creams. Anal eczema is likely to have an underlying or secondary disease. Since the skin on the butt is more sensitive, the pain and itchiness can be more severe than other kinds of eczema.

Allergies can also trigger eczema-like rashes, said Dr. Kim. You may, for example, be allergic to the laundry detergent you use to wash your clothes.

"If itching starts suddenly out of the blue, one of the first things you should ask is whether you could be using or wearing something that's causing irritation in that area," added Dr. Kim.

Causes of contact dermatitis include soaps, detergents, perfumes, latex, fragrances, dyes, preservatives, nickel, cobalt, and certain foods. Moist wipes, condoms, and lubricants may contain these substances.

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is another condition that can cause anal irritation. This relatively rare condition causes white, wrinkled skin changes in the genital region, including the perianal region. People with female genitalia are more likely to be affected.

As for treatment, lichen sclerosus typically responds to a three-month course of topical steroids. If left untreated, these lesions can progress into skin cancer. Screening can help detect cancers early and is important in people with lichen sclerosus.


Anal itching is sometimes associated with tight clothing or materials that don't breathe well. "We know that sweat can cause irritation anywhere on the body with prolonged exposure, and in this area especially, it can cause a lot of itching or even a yeast infection," said Dr. Kim.

Tight-fitting clothing can make you more prone to infections, including those that cause anal itching. Clothes worn tight on the body can increase sweating, and sweaty environments are a great place for germs that can cause anal itching to thrive.

Friction from clothing can also cause hair follicles to get inflamed and infected—a condition called folliculitis. Folliculitis looks like tiny red bumps or pimples on your skin. Folliculitis can occur all over the body, including your around your genitals.

If clothing is causing your itch, consider going 100% cotton. Cotton is a great material that breathes well. Plus, its wicking qualities will help draw sweat away from your body and keep your skin dry. Cotton is also a soft fabric, which means it may help reduce friction.

Food Irritants

What you eat can affect how your butt feels. "Maybe you have an unusual diet—like it's very acidic, or you eat a lot of a certain irritant," said Dr. Kim.

Certain foods can contribute to diarrhea or anal leakage, making it more challenging to wipe thoroughly and causing irritation and itching. The following foods have been associated with anal itching:

  • Caffeine (including coffee, tea, and chocolate)
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Citrus fruits and vegetables
  • Energy drinks
  • Nuts
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Spicy or acidic foods

It should be mentioned here that getting the right amount of fiber in your diet can be beneficial in preventing anal leakage.


Pinworms are another cause of genital itching. They are the most common type of worm infection in the United States. People get infected through person-to-person contact or by touching a surface contaminated with pinworm eggs.

Children can unknowingly touch a contaminated surface, put their fingers in their mouths, and swallow the pinworm eggs. The eggs then travel through the digestive tract and eventually migrate to the perianal area, causing itching and possibly infection.

The parasites are visible in an infected person's feces. To diagnose pinworms in children, healthcare providers will use clear cellophane tape and place it on the skin around the child's anus. The tape is then examined to identify pinworm eggs.

The infection mainly occurs in school-age children. It can, however, spread to their caregivers and other adults. Still, pinworms can be eliminated with two doses of oral medication (available over-the-counter or by prescription), given two weeks apart to prevent reinfection.

Hemorrhoids or Anal Fissures

If your chronic itch gets worse or becomes painful during a bowel movement, it could be hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around the anus. They're caused by too much pressure on the anus, like from straining to poop, chronic constipation or diarrhea, sitting on the toilet for long periods, and a low-fiber diet. Aging and pregnancy can weaken tissues, leading to hemorrhoids. Frequently lifting heavy objects can also put extra pressure on the anus.

In contrast, anal fissures are tiny tears in the thin, moist tissue lining the anus. A lack of blood flow causes these tears to the area or excess tension on the sphincter muscles that control the anus.

Both hemorrhoids and anal fissures can cause tiny blood spots on your toilet paper. If you have blood on your toilet paper, it doesn't need to cause a major alarm. However, if your condition isn't going away despite treatment or you notice significant blood in your stool, see a healthcare provider immediately.

Eating the right amount of fiber, staying hydrated, and finding other ways to relieve constipation and soften your stool can improve both conditions. Over-the-counter treatments are also available for both hemorrhoids and anal fissures.


Various infections can also cause anal itching. The anatomy of your buttocks creates a warm and moist environment. Unfortunately, this environment is ideal for several microorganisms that can cause infection.

Yeast Infections

Yeast infections can occur in various places on and in the body, including the perianal region. Candida, the fungus that causes them, lives almost everywhere. You've probably encountered it multiple times throughout your life.

Like other fungal species that can cause anal itchiness, Candida thrives in a warm, moist environment. These infections can be caused by tight-fitting clothing. They can also occur in people with a weakened immune system and people taking antibiotics.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Anal itching can also be a symptom of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including gonorrhea, herpes, and anal warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Symptoms usually occur around the anus of a person who has received anal sex.

The treatments will vary depending on the STI. With herpes, for example, antiviral creams and ointments can tame the burning and itching, while antiviral medicine (either as a pill or shot) keeps the virus under control. In the case of anal warts, topical creams, cryotherapy, or even surgery may be needed.


Scabies is a common skin condition caused by a tiny bug called the human itch mite. It's very contagious and requires a prescription medication to treat. Scabies can result in an itchy rash and sores all over the body—including around the anus and genitals.

On the other hand, it's probably not scabies if the only place you have itching is in the perianal area. Scabies is commonly found on the wrist, ankle, armpit, and between fingers or toes.

Chronic and Systemic Diseases

Certain long-term health conditions can contribute to anal itching and inflammation. For example, diabetes and autoimmune diseases can make people more vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infections.

Anal itchiness can also appear alongside liver disease, chronic kidney disease, and leukemia. Having vitamin or mineral deficiencies has been associated with anal itching as well. Some examples include iron as well as vitamin A and D deficiencies.

Diseases of the anus and rectum can also cause anal itching, including some digestive disorders like one type of Crohn's disease. Diarrhea and stool leakage resulting from these types of conditions can irritate the skin around the anus.

Nerve Damage

"We have some suspicion that some of this type of itching is neurologic," said Dr. Kim. "As patients get older, a lot of them have lower back injuries, and many people probably have minor damage to the nerves coming out of their spinal cords."

These problems can cause twinges of pain or a nagging itch in the area around the buttocks and anus, added Dr. Kim. Also, this type of itch typically appears on skin that looks healthy, meaning there is usually no rash.

Treatment for this type of nerve damage varies, said Dr. Kim, but may include physical therapy, surgery, or behavior modification.

Anal Cancer

Having an itchy butt isn't usually a reason to jump to scary conclusions. However, in rare cases, anal itchiness can also be a sign of cancer.

Both Paget's and Bowen's diseases are forms of skin cancer that attack the surface layer of the skin. Up to half of the people with Paget's or Bowen's disease experience anal itching. However, both diseases are rare and require a biopsy for diagnosis.

What To Do if Anal Itching Occurs

The causes of anal itching are very broad, so it can be hard to know where to start. Dr. Kim recommended talking to a healthcare provider. You could also check with a dermatologist if you think your problem is more skin-related or a gastroenterologist if it seems more digestive.

Also, take note of any other symptoms that you may be noticing in addition to anal itching. This will help you and your healthcare provider identify what's causing the anal itching.

A Quick Review

Whatever you do, don't sit there in silence with an uncomfortably itchy butt. If you're hesitant to discuss the problem, remember you're not alone. Anal itching is relatively common—and it can be treated.

The treatment will depend on the cause. Common reasons for anal itching include infections, skin conditions, and chronic diseases. Some conditions can be managed with home remedies, over-the-counter medicines, and lifestyle choices like eating high-fiber foods.

If symptoms last longer than a week despite treatment or you have anal bleeding, contact a healthcare provider. Healthcare providers will help you identify the root cause so you can take appropriate steps to treat it.

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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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