close up of a woman in underwear grabbing her backside

Q. A year ago I read in your column about a woman who complained of anal itching. I too had this problem until a kidney specialist recommended using witch hazel. This is a simple solution for a vexing problem.
A. The woman you referred to wrote to us with the following question:

“What can I do for itching of the anus? I have had it for some time and it is driving me crazy. This biting and itching feeling is embarrassing and most of the time the drugstore hemorrhoid remedies don’t stop it.”

Dermatologists tell us that “pruritis ani,” also known as itchy bottom, can be caused by many factors. Coffee, citrus fruit and beans may aggravate this condition, as can tight clothing. Perfumed toilet paper and clothes washed in fabric softener may also contribute. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer.
The usual remedies are greasy ointments or cortisone creams. These are likely to make the problem worse because they increase moisture in the area. Although it is difficult, try to avoid scratching, as it can set up a vicious cycle that leads to more intense itching.
Good hygiene, though, is the best solution. A far better solution would be to prevent the itch in the first place. The French have it way over us with their use of the bidet. We cannot think of a better way to solve this problem.
An alternative would be to gently wipe with witch hazel. Thanks to our Native American forebears, we have this wonderful herb which has been used for centuries as an astringent and cleansing agent. There are many wipes available, (including Tucks Pre-moistened Hemorrhoidal Pads and Preparation H Cleansing Pads) which contain a dose of witch hazel. While convenient, you pay a price for the ease of having pads pre-soaked in witch hazel. If you want to save some money, buy a large bottle of witch hazel. The cost is relatively low. Apply liberally to toilet tissue, gently wipe, and go about your business.
If the itching does not go away, a dermatologist may be able to determine the underlying cause.

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  1. kushal

    I had hot spicy non veg items, about 3 weeks ago… that time I had an anal burning problem… so I used some ayurveda company ointments but not working till now… and my stool test is also showing undigested food particles and O.P.C: cyst of Giardia seen… what should I do to get fast remedy from this…

  2. Itch Free

    It could be a yeast infection. I went to a doctor and he looked at my anus and said I had a yeast infection. Gave me some 7 day cream. Same stuff thats in jock itch cream. Took it 2 times a day for 14 days. Cleared it right up.

  3. H

    I have read every treatment out there. I believe I have an more fungal infection over twenty years. It is itchy and over the years from itching its has turn into the color black around the anus. I have tried over the counter and nothing works. Is there an treatment that will help and make the black too go away? Please help

    • Lucy

      Try apple cider vinegar. I had this problem for years and apple cider vinegar applied topically cleared it up in a couple of weeks. Stings like a bastard at first, but worth the pain.

  4. TR

    I had a anal yeast infection that was caused by exclusively using disposable wipes. My sugar intake probably didn’t help either. Cleared up after 7 days of treating it with OTC 1% clotrimazole cream. Also took probiotics and tried to lower my sugar intake.

  5. alwaysbsam

    So…..can you give us your recipe???

  6. AP

    I’ve suffered from a vaginal yeast infection for the past two summers. Worse feeling in the world! But this summer something strange happened, I began to feel anus itching…real bad. But I refused to take another trip to the ER. After reading ALL posts from above I decided to go wit the Witch Hazel remedy. I had my boyfriend put it on dry toilet paper and dab it on the itchy part. IMMEDIATELY, I felt relief! If it starts up again, I’d shower and apply more. This stuff really works!!

  7. Peter

    I have suffered with this problem for years & went to specialist who recommended washing my anus with Cetaphil wash a product developed by dermatologists. I have used this when I shower & after going to the toilet & it has been under control ever since. I know it will never be cured as I take a lot of medications but at least it is controllable.

  8. Mike S.

    I suffered from Pruritus Ani (Chronic Itchy Anus) for years. I finally came across a product called Pranicure that worked incredibly well. After about 2 weeks of using it I could actually sleep through the night, now I’m 8 weeks in to using it and I no longer itch at all. I still use Pranicure a few times a week to make sure the problem never comes back. I honestly feel like a new person–definitely give it a try, you will not regret it.
    People’s Pharmacy response: We were not familiar with this product but found the following ingredient list: Pranicure is steroid free and contains: zinc oxide, aluminum zirconium, menthol, water, calamine, alcohol denat, cyclopentasiloxane, chlorothymol, glycerine, propylene glycol, lanolin, phenol, dimethicone, trisiloxane, calcium choloride, sodium bicarb, thymol, ointment base, fragrance.
    It is possible that simple zinc oxide would also be helpful.

  9. Nitin

    Sudden itching started two years back, underwent zole ointment, Candacort, Candazole application for an year. The moment ointments are discontinued, high itching and rubbery skin feel appears again around anus. I started drinking coffee two years back. Wheat is staple food and consume two/three kilogram of sugar with groundnut every month. Itching haunts me while delivering classes to students also. Horrible situation. Suggestions please. THANKS.

  10. gy

    I began having this problem when I started eating a lot of dairy, which I’m actually allergic too. For me the biggest thing has been to eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar from my diet. The minute I eat sugar it starts up again. When it does start up, two things help the most: herbal Thuja suppositories from Wise Woman Herbs, and Nystatin cream the doctor prescribed. The cream does have a steroid in it though that thins the anal skin, so you don’t want to start to rely on it. I also wipe with wet toilet paper after every BM. But my doctors and the naturopath who actually figured out what the problem was kept stressing to me that it was more a gut-related issue than anything else and that it would never go away unless I addressed the sugar/allergens in my diet, and they were right. Hope that helps someone!

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