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How Drinking Buttermilk Could Relieve Itchy Bottom

Anal itching can be maddening, but changes in diet such as avoiding coffee and drinking buttermilk might relieve itchy bottom syndrome.
How Drinking Buttermilk Could Relieve Itchy Bottom
LLANO TEX-MAR 22 2015: Drink of cold buttermilk is refreshing Southern Lifestyle treat on hot summer day. Bottle of Low Fat Buttermilk and glass on blue gingham country kitchen style background.

What could be more embarrassing than an itch in a private place? You can’t scratch it, yet the constant itch is extremely distracting. This is the dilemma that drives people to find a way to relieve itchy bottom.

What Could Relieve Itchy Bottom Syndrome?

Q. Years ago my husband suffered from what the doctor called pruritus ani. We called it “itchy bottom.”

The doctor suggested he drink a glass of buttermilk a day. I have no idea how it worked but it did the trick.

A. We have no good explanation either, though we could imagine that the probiotics (good bacteria) in cultured buttermilk might alter intestinal microbes to establish a healthier balance. Previously, a reader reported that applying Greek yogurt topically alleviated the itch. That’s quite a different way to use a cultured dairy product to relieve itchy bottom!

Finding the Cause of Anal Itch:

Trying to determine the source of an itchy bottom can pose challenges. There are many possible factors, including skin problems such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis (Le Journal Medical Libanais, Oct-Nov., 2014). Contact dermatitis might be caused by the fabric of undergarments or by the detergent or fabric softener used to wash them. Even scented toilet paper could be a culprit.

Irritation may be due to sensitivity to certain foods, such as citrus fruits, coffee or beans. Experts suggest changing the diet to alleviate symptoms before trying anything more drastic (Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, March, 2016). It’s good to know that one dietary change that could help is drinking buttermilk.

Incomplete cleansing of the area may also contribute, which could explain why some people find that using a bidet regularly makes a difference (Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, Dec., 2013). Using witch hazel to wipe the area after a bowel movement can relieve itchy bottom for many people who suffer from it.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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