The People's Perspective on Medicine

Itchy Bottom Syndrome AKA Pruritis Ani or Anal Itching

Bottom bum rear itchy bottom ani hemorrhoid hemorrhoids

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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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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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.

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.

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

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.

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)

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.

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.

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…

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.

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

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.

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.

So…..can you give us your recipe???

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!!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.)

After reading some of the comments on the wet wipes or baby wipes, I realized allot of this problem for me did seem to coincide with my use of baby wipes, particularly the insane, keep you from sleeping, overwhelming frick’n itch that has flared up repeatedly over the last couple weeks (including tonight). I think I may have hemorrhoids too, but dealing with that has probably created an ideal environment for fungus also.
Thankfully, I had some anti-fungal spray (containing Tolnaftate 1%) that I sprayed on some dry toilet paper and then softly pat-dryed around the itchy area. It was painful for a moment, probably because I’ve scratched my anus raw, but then that insane itch quickly started to go away.
The Tolnaftate is apparently used in various products to fight athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm… and now, I guess… anus itch. DAMN that stuff is good.

What is the formula, can you let us know PLEASE. Sharing is good. Thank you

I have been suffering with a horrible itch on my anus for about 6 months. I went to the doctors on 2 occasions and was given two types of anti fungal cream these did not work! I now apply tea tree on it every day and it calms the itch although it’s still there! I feel like I cannot cope any longer. It’s knocked my confidence! Can anyone recommend anything or tell me what the cause may be… I’m clean. I don’t drink coffee. I eat fruit. I wear baggy clothing. I don’t use scented washing products or scented soaps or toilet paper! Everything looks normal down there except from scratch marks… help

I wish I had seen this post a few years ago….I have suffered with this for nearly 5 years now and was convinced it was due to severe hemorrhoids. I tried every treatment available and saw numerous Dr’s for this and all were to no avail.
After some research I thought it might be a fungal infection, or possibly a yeast infection. I immediately bought the most expensive antifungal on the market, but still no relief. That is until a few weeks ago I went to buy more (convinced I had some particularly strong strain) and they only had the cheap stuff left (Clotrimazole)so I purchased anyway since I have long become accustomed to the insatiable itching, burning, and numerous painful fissures and bleeding I figured something would be better than nothing, and to my amazement the fissures healed, the itching and burning stopped!!
I have not felt this well in OVER 5 YEARS!!! Turns out after some more research that what I probably had was Candidiasis (perianal) and that type of fungus only responds to the “azole” type of anti-fungals (vice whats in the more expensive ‘Jock Itch’ type creams I had been buying). So, if you are experiencing this, it may pay you some dividends to buy some clotrimazole it has improved my quality of life a thousand fold over…..good luck.

My nurse practitioner says the wipes create a moist environment that is ideas for fungus growth. As soon as she said it, it seemed so obvious to me! But it just hadn’t occurred to me because I was more concerned with cleanliness than anything else. Since I stopped using the wipes (and after medication to eradicate the fungus) I haven’t had any recurring problems.

Just got home from a party where 3 different people all told their stories of itchy bottoms. One women even suffered for three years with multiple trips to the doc and numerous treatments to no avail, no one had a clue what was causing the itch… the culprit in all three cases? Flushable wipes! They stopped using them and had relief within 24 hours.
Sounds like there are multiple causes listed here, but I figured if people are searching the web for possible answers this might be a good place to start. Stop using those wipes and see what happens. There might be a severe skin allergy to chemicals in the wipe. What are the chances 3 people at the party all had the same problem and solution?

Hi, do you remember what yeast medication you were prescribed?

Carl C,
what’s the point of you sharing your successes with your homemade formula, if you won’t share the actual formula. Am I suppose to feel SO GOOOD because you tackled your problem, but won’t share the formula so we can get some relief here!!! if you’re out there, reply please.

When the problem occurs, use a small amount of any strength of hydrocortisone cream. It stops the itch immediately. Once the itch is gone there is no desire to scratch the area anymore and that helps the area to heal.

To ”ps,” how did you discover that the flushable wipes were the culprit? I began using them about a year ago, figuring they’d be better than dry, harsh toilet paper. But then I’ve never had this miserable problem before. I wouldn’t have made the connection. How did you and what is it? Thanks so much!

Thanks for this! I used the witch hazel for a few days and the itch disappeared. I will say that it didn’t -immediately- fix the problem. But, it definitely improved within 24 hours, was gone in 48, and then I used it for two more days to make sure the problem was taken care of!
I normally don’t eat wheat (except for trace amounts in soy sauce) and I noticed that when I “cheated” and ate wheat, the itch came back…thanks for that top, too.

My symptoms sound similar to yours. What natural remedy did you use for the anal yeast issue?

I’ve been ‘coping’ with anal itch for about four years now (I’m in my early 60s). The witch hazel in Tucks momentarily calms the itch, but does not cure it. (My mother, 86, says her mother always had a bottle in the bathroom, but she’d never wondered why… I guess my grandmother also suffered with the insufferable condition). I’m wondering if this is now with me for life? My doctor could only suggest I wash and blow dry after every bowel movement. Or else that I might go on an antibiotic (which did seem to give relief while I was taking it for a different problem) for the rest of my life! Aarrgghh – what a dumb suggestion! Has anyone applied tea tree oil? I tried that because tea tree oil is both antibiotic and antifungal — it stings, but then feels warm. Don’t know about continued use.

I had this all my life and discovered the solution with a Hand Bidet Sprayer = it allows you to get clean (cleaner!) than using toilet paper and without irritation the sensitive skin with all the rubbing plus helps keep the natural oils in your skin that you need to keep it from drying out and itching!

Thank you for the info. Works great for medicine related itching. God bless you and your mom for the great tip!

Beware of those flushable moist wipes. We were using them for some time before finally discovering they were the cause of our woe. Now we keep a large pump-bottle of Cetaphyl Cleanser on hand and squirt a dab onto the bath tissue as needed.

Candida Albicans seems to have been the source of my itchiness. It has gone away now that I am using a natural treatment to rid myself of this yeast/fungus in the bowels.

Many years ago, I tried to replicate a doctors compound medicine at home by removing the steroids from the formula and adding different vitamins. I failed miserably but my wife noticed that my hands became super soft. She ask me to make her some of that stuff. Over time, we found that it does more than just make your hands and skin soft, smooth and younger looking.
The people we shared this with began telling us about putting it on their rough heels to save nylons, it healed up a lot of rough elbows, knees, etc. I can’t say too much because it has cleared up a lot of skin problems that are not suppose to have any cures yet. My wife, who is very fair skinned, uses it on her face before she puts on her make-up. Her skin looks like that of a fourteen year old.
We were both born in 1944. I also suffered from the anal itch problem. My cream worked so well on so many others with so many problems, I tried it on my back side. A little dab on some toilet paper applied to the affected area solves the problem. It is not greasy and can be absorbed into the skin almost instantly. It works a whole lot better than Preperation-H on hemroids which are often associated with anal itch.

I have used Vicks many times and it stops the itching while cooling the area.

I just read the comment about using Vicks for this problem and out loud I said, “OH NO!” Not what I would advise. When I was about 12 years old I was having this problem and I knew that whenever we had a problem with something mother used Vicks to help/cure it…. so… I decided I could cure this problem on my own, using Vicks.
It was a hot summer day and all the windows were open. We had company and they were all outside enjoying a picnic in the back yard. I am now 70 years old and my sister is 76 and she still tells how she remembers how everyone heard this blood curdling scream running through the house. Of course she laughs but I still remember the pain and when I tried to remove it with cold water, that too didn’t work too well. DON’T USE VICKS. I now use what I call Tush wipes (many companies make them).

I had tried everything I could think of but nothing seemed to help. This was a chronic problem for years until I asked my dermatologist about it. This was aggravated by some annal internal hemorrhoids. I am not one to take a prescription for anything if I can avoid it, but I was getting desperate. The dermatologist gave me a prescription for Desonide Cream (0.05%) which is a topical (for the skin) steroid and is not recommended for long term use. She said to use as needed then try to go to Aquaphor Healing Ointment after that if needed. Well, let me tell you, the Desonide provided near instant relief and stopped the itching problem so I rarely use Desonide or Aqauphor. What a relief!

For this problem I use A + D ointment (used mostly for diaper rash). It always gives me much relief.

A good solution is a 6-8 oz squeeze bottle of water that contains 1 oz. of witch hazel.
Use this on any tissue for cleaning after a BM. I was told that dry tissue irritates anal tissue. And, for dire problems, a tiny dab of Noxema type cream on your damp tissue. Many years ago, this was called, “the truck driver’s friend.”
Good luck.

Good day to all… I have been suffering with this problem for almost 2 years. I tried everything over the counter, under the counter, homes remedies. I decided to look at other possible causes to this. I did a search for Anal yeast infections and it turned out to be my problem.
I had a yeast infection which was causing anal fissures. It also cause the tireless itch and constant burning. I had hemorrhoids at first and I used medications for that and the internal pain went away, but the pain and itching and burning on the outside didn’t.
So I asked my doctor if it was possible and that I had a yeast infection there and she said that it was not talked about a lot among men but it is quite common. She gave me medication to treat the yeast infection and it went away.
The fissures healed up and the itching and burning are gone. I wanted to wait to be sure before I posted anything about this, so I can assure you that I am cured. Yeast infections are caused by a fungus just like Athlete’s Foot, and we all know what athlete’s foot feels like right? I hope this can bring relief to some if not all of you. Good luck

The itching can also be caused by Gluten Intolerance. It is difficult but not impossible to eliminate Gluten from the diet. Reading all labels is imperative. P.S. Even though Soy is gluten free, it is usually contaminated with Wheat, so Soy should also be avoided.

My grandmother’s home remedy for this was corn starch (applied dry).

Try cutting out all caffeine & you may see all itch disappear. Worked for me after decades of discomfort.

I use Pampers Sensitive baby wipes to clean with, they are extra soft and scent free. I read on your site about the woman who used a wet tea bag to calm her itch. I’ve tried it and it works. I used a green tea bag, not only did it stop the itch but seemed to heal the painful spots.

A treatment for anal itching that my mother told me about after I had a flare up because of an itchy inflamed hemorrhoid was a very VERY careful dab of Vicks on the area which had been cleaned well. Instant relief!

On the subject of anal itching, I suffered this embarrassing problem for years and went to several doctors about it. They had no good suggestions except to eliminate many things from my diet. Nothing helped. I finally went to the internet and did in-depth research on the side effects of all the prescription meds I was taking and BINGO….. the purple pill (Prilosec) can cause anal itching. I stopped taking Prilosec and the itching stopped immediately. Unfortunately most doctors don’t ever consider that prescription medications can cause problems. Good luck.

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