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. patricia

    I use the store brand hemorrhoidal pads. when the itching is really bad, I tuck a pad between my buttocks before going to sleep and it stays there all night. A few nights of this helps ALOT. It has come back from to time but not nearly as bad. Dont scratch. Makes it worse. if the itching becomes unbearable, put a pad between buttocks,


    now i can’t eat ice-cream anymore cause my anus will definitely start singing for me the next minute..well what else can i eat since every preserved food here in canada contains sugar
    God help me.

  3. bill

    I have suffered for years. Suspected everything from lack of washing, too much washing, soap powder, shower gel etc etc.
    Now I know.!!!! .. for me its the wheat. not coffee not dairy. Wheat gluten. Doctors are very happy just treating the symptoms and prescribing expensive creams. But thats just scratching the surface ! ( if you’d pardon the pun). ( I have a profound mistrust for general practitioners who just sit back and prescribe stuff without trying to get to the root problem.)

    So i did my own experiment. Cut out everything from my diet: wheat, coffee, alcohol, dairy… the itch went away ( ok with the expensive cream) … but the point is it didnt come back until i put the wheat back in my diet… within hours, sometimes minutes of consuming wheat i felt that familiar tingling itching on my anus. So while cutting out gluten is going to be tough, its something i’ve been trying to do anyway, so now it gives me more motivation.

    Btw – did a blood test to test for gluten sensitivity ( ie. celiac) but it came back negative… so my doctor says i can eat wheat no problem! But i did a lot of research. There are so many people who complain of gluten intolerence who dont have celiac. Incredibly varied symptoms. Doctors need to update their knowledge base as modern wheat is creating so many problems and doctors do not seem to want to recognise… lets face it no one (neither doctor or big pharma) makes any money if the solution to your problem is cutting out wheat, or dairy, or something else. Its a lose – lose situation for them… so they keep on pushing the creams…
    sorry rant over. ! I encourage everyone to do the food tests themselves, the problem is there somewhere.

  4. Samantha
    Buffalo, NY

    I agree with Mike‚ĶPranicure was the only thing that helped. I don’t know why or how, but whatever is in it just works.

    • Sarah

      I agree with Mike as well. Same problem It’s clearly the wheat.

      The test has been negative for me too.

      I also get asthma from wheat (and sugar), so I wondered about yeast — also dismissed by the medical establishment.

      I had some Indian all purpose flour (Maida), definitely wheat, should have had the gluten, but it didn’t. It may be something about the modern strains, designed for baking.

  5. Siegried

    Please people, it is incredible that docters don’t know this, but is mostly the result of a dysbiosis, stemming from a severe lactose intolerance. So leaving out all lactose containing dairy is the cure. Cheese (especially old cheeses, might be ok)

    • Tammy S.
      United States

      I have absolutely no dairy in my diet, and I haven’t had traces for months, and I haven’t had it regularly for 4 years. I keep using this antifungal cream the doctor gave me, and calendula cream. It goes away for a bit, then it comes back with a vengeance. I hate it. Ugh. I’m going to try the witch hazel and read more advice. Not sure what else to do.

  6. noneofyourbusiness

    Cured! Fibers from my cotton underwear caused my anal itching for 10 years. I finally realized this and switched to a polyester/spandex blend and it stopped after 1 day! Hope this helps others.

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. alwaysbsam

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

  12. 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!!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

    • Tammy S.

      You are wonderful. Thank you! I bet that is exactly right, that it is a gut problem, and that is why I am having trouble getting rid of mine with cream. It just comes back. Time to cut out honey and maple syrup! (Already gluten, dairy, corn, processed sugar, nightshade, free. Lol.)

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