What is pruritus ani?

This is a where patients develop a strong urge to itch their buttocks, usually due to an irritation / inflammation of the skin in the area. It is very common in the UK and men are more commonly affected than women. Middle aged to older people are most at risk. Pruritus ani is also known as itchy bottom.

What causes pruritus ani?

Usually pruritus ani results from an inflammation or irritation of the local skin. This can be due to an infection, allergic reaction to soap, clothing and poor hygiene. Stress, anxiety, moisture and heat can exacerbate the condition. Conditions such as incontinence (faecal or urinary), rectal prolapse, haemorrhoids or eczema may predispose to pruritus ani.

What are the symptoms?

  • Excessive itch in the buttock area
  • Inflamed red, painful skin
  • Ulcers may develop and discharge if infected
  • Symptoms of predisposing factors: Haemorrhoids, prolapsed, faecal or urinary incontinence

How can pruritus ani be treated?

  • Keep area clean and dry
  • Avoid triggers - Dietary triggers, e.g. spicy foods, tomatoes etc / avoid clothing triggers / irritant toilet paper
  • Emollients (Moisturisers) 
  • Topical steroids: Skin steroid based preparations
  • Oral medications
  • Treat the underlying condition (e.g. bacterial infection treated with antibiotics)

For more sources of information/ help click on the links below: