Itchy bottom is a lay man’s term for Pruritus ani. It is the itching around the anus and this may be very embarrassing. An itchy bottom is a symptom and not itself the diagnosis of a condition. It has been noted that anal itching may have a comparable effect to pain on quality of life.
Itching, often intense, that may be persistence or may occur only after bowel movement
Redness, irritation, soreness and burning in the skin around the anus
Causes of itchy bottom:
Causes are either primary or secondary. Primary causes – conditions that are not the result of something else underlying them and are either functional or psychological.
In functional anal itching, a small amount of feces escapes because of anorectal dysfunction, directly causing the itching. However, in psychological anal itching, there is no physical problem with the anus or the skin around it, but rather mind- related (as when one is under depression).
Secondary causes are those in which there is an underlying cause. And most causes for an itchy bottom are secondary.
• Too much or too little wiping as well as skin irritants leading to itchiness around the anus.
• Certain foods and drinks may seem to worsen the problem. Examples include: tomatoes, spicy foods, citrus fruits, nuts, chocolate, dairy products, coffee, excessive liquids, such as milk, beer or wine.
• Skin conditions, such as dermatitis and psoriasis.
• Infections, including parasitic and sexually transmitted ones.
• Anal or rectal disorders (piles, anal fissures), which may lead to fecal soilage.
• Systemic medical conditions.
• Drugs and stress.
Once the bottom becomes itchy, many factors can exacerbate it – hot weather and sweating, tight clothes that compress the buttocks and non-absorbent nylon underpants. Activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, sitting-particularly on a plastic chair, which hampers the evaporation of any sweat can also make matters worse.
For proper diagnosis and treatment of itchy bottom a number of factors should be considered: the duration and pattern of the itch; dietary intake prior to the condition as well as hygiene practices (excessive washing, or use of creams, perfumes, type of soaps); past medical history, such as anorectal surgery, hemorrhoids, or diabetes; blood on toilet paper; anal pain or lumps; bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps and urinary or fecal incontinence.
The following herbal remedies available for the treatment of anal itching are greatly relieving and treatment depends on the cause of the itching:
Neem (dongo-yaro): making a paste of the leaves and applying on the itchy bottom may have a cooling effect to the skin and offer relief. Neem oil can be used too. Also orally taking neem powder prevents skin infections that may result in itching. 1 Tsp. 2X daily.
Aloe vera- apply the gel and also drink the fresh juice to keep the skin moisturized.
Aspilia africana (African marigold; yunyun-Yoruba; uramejuna-Igbo) – apply cream made with the flower bud for its anti inflammatory benefits. It will reduce swelling, rashes, sores and aid the healing process. The flowers can be boiled in water, cooled down and then applied.
Nauclea latifolia (uburu ilu-Igbo; opepe-Yoruba) – decoction of leaves is taken one teacup 2X daily. Also bathe the area with the liquid extract.
Chromolaena odorota (Siam weed, iriro eliza-Igbo; ewe awolowo-Yoruba) – leaf juice is applied. Rauwolfia vomitoria, akanta in Igbo can also be applied like Siam weed on an itchy bottom.
Bryophllum (Africa never die) – If itching is particularly troublesome during the night, this herb with antihistamine properties should be used (both externally and internally) before retiring to bed. This may help lessen your nighttime itching.
Echinacea- this is taken 1 tea bag 2 times daily also for its antihistamine properties.
Basil- this common cooking herb has anti-inflammatory properties. The poultice of fresh leaves is applied.
Apple cider vinegar-a wad of raw cotton thoroughly saturated and applied over-night is said to bring total relief. Note that there will be a temporal burning sensation if there has been irritation through scratching.
Wheat germ oil- apply little quantity of wheat germ oil and keep it applied all day. Apply again at night, you will be amazed how it relieves.
Prevention of anal itching:
A number of practical measures are necessary to be taken along with the herbal remedies listed above:
Avoid foods that can increase rectal itching, such as coffee, tea, cola drinks, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, highly seasoned spiced foods,et.c for about 2 weeks. Gradually add the items back to your diet, one item at a time, to help determine the cause of the itching.
Maintain a regular bowel habit
Keep the anal area clean after emptying the bowel and gently doing so.
Do not allow the anal area to stay moist, dry it gently by dabbing, not by rubbing.
Avoid medicated, perfumed or deodorant soaps, preferably use only plain warm water for cleaning.
Avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear. Wear loose, breathable clothing (cotton) rather than synthetic undergarments (acrylic and nylon) which trap sweat.
Take a warm sitz bath two times each day and after each bowel movement. Following the bath, dry the anus carefully.
Break the itch-scratch cycle, because further scratching leads to more itching. Scratching can only make the problem worse.