What It Means When Your Butt Itches

Feeling itchy on any part of your body can be annoying, but when that area happens to be your behind, it's embarrassing as well. You don't want to be seen scratching your rear end in public, and yet you can't always find a bathroom or other private place to relieve the itch and discomfort. 

Rear-end itching — or pruritus ani, in doctor-speak — can be triggered by a number of issues, ranging from bathroom habits to skin conditions to more unusual ailments. One of the most common causes of butt itch is improper cleaning after a bowel movement, according to WebMD. Simply put, leftover residue can irritate the skin in and around the area and cause itching. If you suspect this is the culprit, try cleaning with a damp piece of tissue, or use a flushable wet wipe. On the other hand, wiping too vigorously, or using hot water or scented soap on your bottom area, can also cause irritation and itching, When you bathe, simply wash the area gently with warm water, and avoid perfumed or deodorizing products.

Your clothes or diet could be the cause of the problem

If you don't think wiping or washing is the culprit behind your itchy bottom, your clothes might actually be to blame. Wearing too-tight pants or undergarments made of synthetic fabric can cause sweat to accumulate in the buttocks area, creating skin irritation or inflammation of the hair follicles (via Self). Did you recently switch laundry detergents? You may be allergic to one or more of the chemicals in the cleaner. 

Certain foods can contribute to bottom itching, either because of their acidity or because they can cause an upset stomach. Among the worst offenders are dairy, citrus, and tomato products, chocolate, cola, spicy foods, tea, and coffee. If your diet contains a lot of these foods, cutting back may help. On the other end of the spectrum, not getting enough fiber or water can lead to constipation, which is a common cause of itch-producing hemorrhoids and blockage. If your bowel movements are often hard to pass, it's quite possible that your itching is the result of straining to "go." Try increasing your fiber intake and getting more exercise. Look, it's important we talk about these things, even if it isn't pretty!

Some medical conditions can cause itching

Less often, pruritus ani is a byproduct of a more serious medical issue such as Crohn's disease, diabetes, liver disease, or a thyroid disorder, explains the Cleveland Clinic. If the itching is accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, a doctor's visit is definitely in order. In rare cases, itching can also be a symptom of cancer. 

Some cases of bottom itching are due to infections, including staphylococcus and other bacteria, and yeast (candida) infections. If you have young children who are also complaining of itchy bottoms, you may be dealing with a case of pinworms. These parasitic worms lay eggs that can be ingested through food, bedding, and other surfaces (via Self). Though gross, the worms can be easily treated through medication. If you also have an itchy rash in areas such as your armpits and groin, it can be a sign of scabies, a mite whose bite causes sores, rash, and itching. This, too, is treated with prescription drugs.

If your itching is persistent, lasts more than a few days, and doesn't respond to lifestyle changes, talk to your primary care physician. Depending on your medical history and symptoms, you may be referred to a dermatologist or gastroenterologist to get to the bottom (no pun intended ...) of the situation and relieve that embarrassing itch.