Good Lord Please Make My Butt Itch Go Away
May 19, 2015 11:13 PM   Subscribe

My butt itches constantly. Mostly at night but during the day as well. I'm tired of it and want it to stop once and for all. What can I do?

This has been going on for years. Years! The itch starts just outside of the actual butt hole around the rim, extents up to an inch away. It comes and goes, usually will have a few days off and then come back with a vengeance. Scratching it feels really, really good even though I know it's bad. Wiping after doing #2 also feels good.

I know I shouldn't scratch it but I often can't help myself. Especially in the middle of the night I'll scratch it hard in my sleep.

I have been to a proctologist. He stuck a periscope thing up my butt, had a couple med students take a look, and told me I had an itchy butt. Pruritus ani, he called it, as if naming it would help. He gave me a hydro cortisone-based cream which did make it go away but then once the cream ran out it came back. I'm told I shouldn't use these creams long term.

I have tried the following:
  • Cleanliness. I clean nightly and after my morning poop with these Preparation-H wipes. They have aloe in them, it seems. The cleanliness is nice, sure, but it doesn't seem to help. I've had the itch long before I started using wipes so it's not the wipes causing it.
  • Various Preparation-H and over-the-counter Cortisone-based creams. Again, these work for a short time but then it comes back. Don't want to use them long-term.
  • Diaper rash cream. Desitin, I think it's called. This doesn't help at all other than the initial application which is kind of soothing because it's basically scratching the itch.
  • Moisturizing lotion. Nope.
  • I don't think it is pinworms. From what I've read, a pinworm infection would affect your entire family. I have made informal surveys of my family and nobody else seems to have any butt-related issues. I did buy an over-the-counter pinworm med but I haven't taken it yet.
  • Trying various soaps. I moved away from the Dials and Irish Springs to some natural hippie soaps, to no avail.
Other interesting facts about my butt: It's a normal butt. Stool is normal. I don't usually have to strain. Diet is normal. I eat just about everything, probably too much junk food and meat, but plenty of vegetables and salads. I have no allergies that I know about. I'm not gonna fucking cut out gluten 'cause that's just silly. I engage in normal straight-guy butt/finger play once in a while and maybe once a year to celebrate Groundhog's Day a reasonably-sized lubed-up dildo goes up there but nothing that might damage anything.

I do have an occasional small patch of excema on other parts of my body, which I also treat with hydrocortisone. That leaves a visible patch of scab-like skin though and nobody has ever seen that same scab thing on my butt. Now that I write this I realize I haven't had excema for at least a couple of years.

I'm generally healthy and see my doctor regularly. She has taken a look but has never seen anything save for the occasional 'roid. She was the one who sent me to the butt doctor.

I just want it to stop. Good lord make it stop. What can I do? What worked for you? I will try anything that has a bit of science behind it but I'm not interested in any homeopathic or "alternative" remedies.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I know someone who has itchy butt issues. (Really, it's a friend, not me!) They say the type of underwear they wear makes a big difference. They think the itch is worse when they get sweaty, so breathable cotton underpants that aren't too tight are good. Also, if it's sweat-related, shaving or waxing your butt hole might help. (Or might make things much, much worse...)
posted by lollusc at 11:24 PM on May 19, 2015

Could it be some kind of yeast or fungal infection?
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:25 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

When you poop are there "treadmarks" after you flush? Do you have to wipe lots and lots to get clean? I find that, in these cases, I'm slightly more likely to be itchy. But I've never experienced what you describe. Maybe a dietary change experiment, if your poop is like this?

Also, have you tried installing a cheapo bidet in your home toilet, to *really* get clean? I've never tried one of these, so this is just a random idea.
posted by zeek321 at 11:25 PM on May 19, 2015

It could well be other things (like allergies to your TP, say), but your description fits pinworms very closely. Just because no one else has obvious signs of them is no proof that you do or don't have them.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:31 PM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, for the fungal alternative try an athlete's foot/jock itch cream for a week or so.
posted by rhizome at 11:31 PM on May 19, 2015

Benadryl cream burns when you apply it, but it goes away quickly and stops the itch completely.

Not that I know anything about this, of course.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:33 PM on May 19, 2015

Seconding pinworms, which I've heard many anecdotal stories of doctors somehow missing. It might be worth taking the (inexpensive, disgusting, over-the-counter) medication, just in case--when a member of my household had them, we were advised to all dose up, just in case. So it probably can't hurt to try, and might help.
posted by MeghanC at 11:42 PM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Do not use soap. Use a pH neutral cleanser, or trust to a washcloth and hot water only.

If you exercise, or otherwise do things that get sweaty enough to dampen your underwear, shower/bathe as soon as practicable and put on fresh underwear.

Buy very soft, unscented toilet paper.

Those things kind of helped, but a period of rubbing some coconut oil around the affected area in the morning made it go away permanently. I put it down to microbes feeding on sweat. Eliminate the dried sweat, eliminate the culprit bugs (coconut oil is mildly effective on some microorganisms and repels sweat), don't use soap that alters your skin pH and strips the oils off making it more attractive for the wrong bugs.

For the love of God don't shave your hairy butt areas, you will regret it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:57 PM on May 19, 2015

Inflammation caused by suspected wheat allergy in my case. Dietary change cleared it up and when I eat wheat, it itches again. Allergies can trigger eczema for me too. I had it for years as well, saw doctors, tried creams, they ruled out pinworms in my case. Get celiac and allergy tests done? You might learn something useful.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:24 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have this only after eating garlic.

I mean, I do have some other sensitivities of a more vague nature and all that, but an itchy behind: only, and very promptly, after eating garlic. More if it's more than my normal share; most after fresh garlic.
posted by Namlit at 12:30 AM on May 20, 2015

Two suggestions:
1. Try "Triple Paste"diaper cream (it's better than most others) and apply after pooping and before bed.

2. After you clean yourself use "Tucks" wipes. These have witch hazel and can really help.

Ok, I lied there is a third. The Honest Baby Co makes a bum cleaning spray that contains witch hazel too. That may be worth trying. Actually head to the kiddie aisle and check out their organic healing balm too.
posted by saradarlin at 1:11 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also thought of pinworms or allergies. But one thing that's often effective for itchy skin is taking fish oil capsules. I've never heard of anyone using it for an itchy butt, specifically, but it helps a lot of people with eczema. Maybe take a double dose for a week or so, and see if that helps - and then drop down to the normal recommended dose every day.

(To be clear, I'm suggesting swallowing fish oil capsules, not applying them to your butt. Although, who knows?)
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:26 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

What's going on in the diet department?
posted by rmmcclay at 3:22 AM on May 20, 2015

Did the aloe in the wipes help? You can fold them up and leave them in your buttcrack.
posted by brujita at 5:58 AM on May 20, 2015

I had this once, and I think it was eczema related as I also had a big patch of eczema on my arm at the time. It finally stopped when I switched brands of toilet paper to something really soft instead of whatever rough brand was cheapest. After that I used witch hazel wipes whenever I felt itchy because they do a nice job of cooling the skin. Also, frequent changes of cotton underwear and sleeping with loose cotton shorts on at night.

I really think it was eczema, and for me using hydrocortisone cream wasn't totally effective because the area kept getting irritated by the scratching and wiping. So it was a matter of figuring out what was causing the irritation (cheap toilet paper) and working from there. Maybe try laying off the medicated wipes and use something gentler?
posted by Yellow Silver Maple at 6:11 AM on May 20, 2015

From what I've read, a pinworm infection would affect your entire family. I have made informal surveys of my family and nobody else seems to have any butt-related issues. I did buy an over-the-counter pinworm med but I haven't taken it yet.

It's really easy to test for pinworms. You would probably also find them in your poop if you've been checking. If you've had them for a long time they'd also come with occasional stomach pains usually. I was a wormy kid and I can let you know that the "It's not pinworms because then other people would have them" is categorically false.The good news is if it's pinworms it's easy to find and easy to treat.

Otherwise I'd assume some sort of allergy and maybe dial back on everything you're putting on your butt except some sort of super-non-fruity toilet paper.
posted by jessamyn at 7:02 AM on May 20, 2015

It may be a yeast infection. A topical cream, cotton underwear, changing to gentle washing with scent free soap and unscented t And keeping the area dry and air circulating may help.
posted by wwax at 7:08 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had this for years, YEARS! too. The only cause I could maybe link it to was that it started after I completed a course of antibiotics. If it's pertinent, the prescription was one of those useless ones doctors write for viral respiratory issues, go figure. I tried Desitin without relief, and wondered about pinworms but didn't seem to quite fit the symptoms for worms. Anyway, eventually it went away on its own. My theory, years later, is that the antibiotics threw my gut flora out of balance so the bad guys proliferated. So maybe try a probiotic?
posted by auntie maim at 7:20 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd do the OTC pinworm treatment and see if it helps. It's gross but if it works it'll be worth it, and if it doesn't you know for sure it's not pinworm.

Second I'd keep witch hazel in the bathroom and use it every time you wipe or leave witch hazel pads on the area a couple times a day.

Every night (for a week or so) use a zinc-oxide natural diaper rash cream. You say you've tried these creams but not for how long or what type. Zinc creams are moisture barriers and will protect the tissue while it heals. I find it most helpful to use at night when it will stay in place for several hours.

You might look into what research exists about pruritus ani.
posted by latkes at 7:26 AM on May 20, 2015

It really does sound like pinworms. If so, kudos to you for not infecting your family.

If it isn't, you could have an allergy to something. Dryer sheets, for instance, put a chemical sheen on your clothes that takes several washings to remove. It could also be a food sensitivity. You could even be allergic to the brand toilet paper that you are using.

Actions to take:

Start sleeping commando (once you treat the possible pinworms) to air things out a bit. You should also take a good quality probiotic. A yeast buildup in your system can make things itchy but not diagnosable itchy. Try going 3 days without eating anything with yeast or sugar in it. If you drink, stop for a week or two.

Have you been checked for hemorrhoids? Because that could do it too. Try witch hazel wipes.
posted by myselfasme at 8:04 AM on May 20, 2015

When I tried a paleo diet last year, mine went away completely. When I eat flour and sugar again, it comes back. My joint pain also disappeared. Might want to try it for a week or so and see what happens.
posted by raisingsand at 8:17 AM on May 20, 2015

Someone close to me has had this problem for years. After three doctors, he still doesn't know why it happens, but he's developed a number of ways to cope with it. A dermatologist diagnosed him with pruritus ani and prescribed a number of antibiotics, steroids and anti-fungal creams that didn't help at all. The itchiness went away for a long time after he had a colonoscopy to probe (sorry) for a cause. The scan showed that he didn't have hemorrhoids or polyps; his butt was physically fine. Just really itchy! So once a year or so, he'll take a day off and do the Miralax + Gatorade colonoscopy cleanse which seems to calm the butt itchiness for a while.

It really, really flares up when he drinks IPAs or wheaty beers. Stress is also a big trigger. When he has a particularly bad fit of itching in bed, he'll take a Benedryl to knock himself out for the rest of the night. Anti-histamines help. He wears soft cotton boxer briefs during the daylight hours and cotton PJ pants without underwear to bed. We use dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergent. Witch hazel wipes are a mainstay in our bathroom cupboard, used to clean the anal area after bowel movements when a shower isn't possible, though he doesn't overuse them as dryness exacerbate things. He uses Balneol lotion on a daily basis and finds that it helps a lot.
posted by theraflu at 8:28 AM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

A few others have mentioned a connection to wheat consumption was the trigger for them, and I will agree that in our family that has seemed to be the culprit for issues very similar to what you are describing.
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 9:27 AM on May 20, 2015

Corn starch will reduce some of the damage caused by itching, and keeps the area dry, reducing any bacterial or yeast infection. It feels good and has no side effects.

Make sure you don't have pinworms; they're not uncommon and are easily treated. Pinworm itch is worse at night, so a distinct possibility.

Mild constipation can cause mild inflammation/ hemorrhoids, which can cause so much itching. Drink an extra glass of water daily, increase exercise a bit, and increase the fiber in your diet. Even a couple apricots a day will help a lot. Increasing fiber in your diet is incredibly healthy for you, so no reason not to.
posted by theora55 at 10:54 AM on May 20, 2015

I realize you're a human, but my dog had a very similar problem. And of course he doesn't understand the benefits of not scratching it. The vet prescribed antibiotics and a pretty extended course of steroids and steroid cream (applying ointment to a Great Dane butt was not the highlight of my week). They helped a bit, but it didn't go away as fast or as completely as we hoped.

Turns out it was a food allergy. I'm not sure what was different in his food, but we switched brands shortly before this started, and switching again seemed to fix it. We tried feeding him the culprit food again later, and within two days he was scratching his butt (and by scratching, I mean licking obsessively.)

Maybe try cutting out common allergens, or go for a full elimination diet if you're desperate.
posted by thejanna at 11:01 AM on May 20, 2015

Take a roll of sticky tape and leave it handy on your bedside table.

When you wake up in the night with the itching, take a good length of tape and wind it around your first two fingers, tape side out so that you have a patch of sticky tape a couple of inches square.

Gently press this against your anal area and then inspect. If you have pinworms you will almost certainly get some of them or their eggs on the tape.

You could also experiment with washing your crack with vinegar. If you have a yeast infection the vinegar will probably discourage it.
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:56 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

The above suggestions make a lot of sense: get tested for pin worms, eat fiber etc. But, for relief in the meantime , try applying coconut oil
posted by leslievictoria at 5:03 PM on May 20, 2015

As another mildly disinfecting-y treatment for itchy skin which may be caused by the presence of or a reaction to microbes: Tea Tree Oil Soap WITHOUT nasty irritating SLS. I can recommend the Soap Works version, because that's what they sell in my area--there may be something equivalent or better in your area.
posted by sarahkeebs at 8:20 PM on June 2, 2015

As a mother of 3 all grown up people, and a sibling of a once dirt eating younger brother, I say PIN WORMS. They sneak out at night, caused my dirt eating (NYC dirt) little brother all same symptoms, can only be spotted by a diligent "verifier" with a magnifying glass if looking for eggs/worms at night. All the cleanliness, and otc or natural methods will not help you if this is cause.
They only spread with close contact, and or lack of handwashing after contact( poor hygiene habits). You can spread them via sharing towels that are unwashed between use, etc. If one person has them or they are suspected, the entire family should be treated(1 pill??), and all bedding and towels washed /dried hot. Hope you are long since de wormed if that was problem.
posted by nylifer at 8:34 PM on October 24, 2015

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