Like the location of Jimmy Hoffa’s body, the identity of Jack the Ripper and the fate of the Ark of the Covenant, the causes of Pruritus Ani (i.e., an itchy asshole), are largely mysterious. According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to five percent of the population suffers from this condition, and it’s four times more likely to occur in men. Despite its widespread nature, they estimate that anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent of cases are the result of idiopathic pruritus ani, which is anal itching without any known underlying cause (“idiopathic” is basically science-talk for “we have no fucking clue”).
While most cases of itchiness at your hole are as mysterious as the black holes in outer space, science does know a few reasons why anal itching might occur, and even how to treat them. So, until the Stephen Hawking of the human butthole unlocks the mysteries of your anus, these explanations are the best we have… for now.
Poor hygiene can lead to an itch in the ol’ poop chute. By wiping inadequately or not showering enough, fecal matter can stick around longer than you might like, which can irritate the skin. According to HealthGuidance, this can especially plague those with chronic diarrhea or soft stools.
To rid yourself of those devilish dingleberries, you’ll have to wipe better, shower more often and/or get yourself a bidet. Also, eating more fiber should help make you a bit more regular in your trips to the john.
Even more common than a dirty asshole causing a butt-itch is an overly clean one. PAS, or “Polished Anus Syndrome,” is the joking moniker doctors have given the condition caused by those with overly aggressive asshole-cleaning habits. Unlike many other cultures that use a bidet, Americans use rough, dry paper to scrape the shit from our bodies (or merely spread it around and leave it there, resulting in a dirty asshole, which, well, see above). Some wipe so hard that their asshole bleeds, or they clean that area so vigorously with soap that they remove protective oils from the skin, resulting in dryness and itchiness.
Investing in a bidet may help in this situation — or you can use a wet paper towel or toilet paper to gently wipe the area, then pat it dry with a bit of toilet paper afterwards. You’ll also want to make sure you’re not using too harsh a soap that may be cleaning away the moisture on your skin. If you’re a bar soap kind of guy, you may want to switch to a moisturizing bar instead. Opting for a more plush toilet paper, too, isn’t a bad idea. Finally, you’ll just want to be sure you take things a little easier down there and not treat wiping your ass like you’re digging a hole in your lawn.
One potential result of vigorous ass-wipin’ may be hemorrhoids. These are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum that can bleed and cause itchiness. Other causes of hemorrhoids include straining during bowel movements, excessive bowel movements, obesity and prolonged sitting on the toilet.
If you’re looking to rid yourself of these itchy ass veins, you’ll have to give up your routine of spending 45 minutes on the toilet every morning to read the latest news about the assholes in Washington D.C. Instead, you should just do your business and that’s it. Fiber may help here as well if you don’t have regular stools. There are also topical medications that can help, which you can find at your local drug store. Or you can reach out to this guy:
Too Much Moisture
This is one area where a bidet won’t help your problem. Too much moisture around your butthole from excess sweat may also cause you to itch as the anal skin can break down from prolonged swamp-ass. To treat this chronically annoying condition, you want to make sure you stay dry down there. Moisture-wicking underwear might help, as would powders or a clinical-strength antiperspirant. If none of those work, however, you can go the extreme route and get some botox in your ass.
What You’re Eating
While spicy foods may keep you alive longer, they might also cause you a tingle in your tuchus. Luigi Basso, a specialist in coloproctology and laparoscopic surgery at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, told Men’s Health, “The last part of your anal region is lined by cells similar to those in your mouth, [and] spicy foods can burn just as much on the way out as on the way in.” Too much of this kind of irritation may result in itchiness.
To cure this, you either want to eat fewer spicy foods or, paradoxically, way more. In that same Men’s Health piece, Sutep Gonlachanvit, the chief of the division of gastroenterology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said that “continuous [spicy food] ingestion for greater than three weeks can induce desensitization — which in turn can reduce rectal sensation.”
A food allergy may cause a similar effect, as you may feel the effects of it on your skin on its way out of town. Coffee, too, may give you an itch, as it has been shown to lower your “anal resting pressure” (that is, how tightly your butthole closes up). This loosening can result in leakage, causing swamp ass or fecal residue around your anus.
There are some other foods and drinks that may cause this too, including beer, since it can make your stool more acidic, thus irritating the skin. Sadly, the cure for most of these food ailments is to cut back on them, at which point you’ll have to decide if not having an itchy asshole is worth giving up beer and coffee.
Yeah, this one is as horrible as it sounds. Normally, your rectum is held firmly in place by pelvis muscles, but according to emedicinehealth, long-term constipation or large hemorrhoids may weaken these muscles so much that your rectum literally falls out of your body. In the early stages, this can manifest itself in anal itching, much like hemorrhoids. Fortunately, it’s pretty rare because the only way to really fix it is with surgery.
You Have an Infection
Men can get yeast infections. MEN CAN GET YEAST INFECTIONS! While rare, it’s possible for men to get a yeast infection by having unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. This can result in anal itching if it spreads from the penis to the anus. While this might sound scary, it’ll likely go away on its own, or it can be treated with an antifungal cream.
Just like anywhere else on your body, it can be an infection from broken skin, too, which may take antibiotics to cure. Even an STD like HPV could be to blame for an itch. While there’s no cure for HPV, a perissiant wart by your a-hole might have to be lanced off.
In a worst-case scenario, an anal itch can be a symptom of rectal cancer, which is closely linked to HPV. While this kind of cancer is rare, if someone does get it, it’s quite serious and likely requires chemotherapy and radiation. To catch anal cancer early, it may be wise to get an anal pap smear.
Proctitis has a lot of rough symptoms, like bleeding, passing mucus through the rectum, painful bowel movements or a continuous feeling like you have to shit. Way down on that list of symptoms is, you guessed it, anal itching. Causes for this one include infections (including sexually transmitted ones), inflammatory bowel disease and some antibiotics. To cure it, you’ll likely have to get some antibiotics. Yep.
This has nothing to do with fisting (I know, I was disappointed too). Often caused by proctitis, an anal fistula is a small passageway or tunnel that extends from the anus to the exterior skin. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, I’ve linked a non-vomit-inducing image to help you understand. I think I deserve high praise for my bravery on this one, because just Googling images of “anal fistula” is horrifying. So, you’re welcome, itchy asshole people.
Anyway, anal fistula can give you an itch, and the only way to cure this one is surgery. You may find references online to more homeopathic remedies, which is all well and good when you’ve got a sore throat or some shit like that, but if I grew an extra, tiny little asshole, I would definitely want surgery immediately.
Compared to anal fistula, the little tears in the rectum known as anal fissures seem like no big deal. This happens a lot in babies, but people of any age can get them, especially from passing large or really hard stools. While chronic fissures may need surgery, more than likely, you’ll be able to get rid of them by eating more fiber, taking sitz baths, or once again, you may want to give a call to Preparation H Raymond.
A Non-Asshole Specific Skin Condition
If you suffer from something like eczema, scabies or psoriasis, where the rest of your skin is prone to itching, this may very well occur in your rectum too. To treat it, you’ll likely have to use the same treatment you use elsewhere on your body.
Your Underwear (or Laundry Detergent)
What kind of underwear you wear may make a difference in your anal itch. Some people are sensitive to synthetic fibers, and they may find that switching to cotton or linen will help them out. As we said, moisture-wicking materials may help with that sweaty swamp ass. You could also be using the wrong kind of detergent, which might only manifest itself downstairs due to the sensitivity of the area. In this case, switching to a hypoallergenic detergent may help.
Yup, pretty gross. There’s a few types of worms that may be linked to ass-itchery, the most common of which is a pinworm infection. Pinworms are a tiny, half-inch worm that’s usually found in five- to ten-year-olds, but anyone can get them. The lifespan of a pinworm are as follows: You get pinworms by ingesting their eggs; once you’ve ingested the eggs, they hatch and mature in your intestines until the females get impregnated; once they’re expecting, the females move into the anus and exit from there at night; she then lays eggs in the folds of your anus before reentering your body.
Because this is all itchy as fuck, when you itch your asshole, the microscopic eggs latch onto your fingers and wait for you to bring them into your mouth (or someone else’s), thus continuing the great circle of life.
This one’s probably obvious, but if you can’t resist the urge to scratch, you’ll likely irritate the area more and cause more itchiness. Instead, you’ll just have to sit with discomfort as you shop for a bidet on Amazon.