Don’t miss our new blog series where we ask our team of doctors for their advice on a range of health problems. Before you visit your GP, be sure to check in and take a look at what our doctors have to say about various problems, from cystitis to erectile dysfunction. Up first is peri-anal itch while the next few blogs will focus on how to avoid going to the doctor.

Help my itchy bottom!

An all too common occurrence, peri-anal itch is an itchy irritation of the skin around the opening of the back passage. Although it can be uncomfortable, sufferers shouldn’t unduly worry as it’s easily treated. We spoke to our clinical director Dr. Mooney about the ailment and the simple ways to treat it.

Q. What causes peri-anal itch?

A. The cause may be down to a very simple reason. After passing a bowel motion, toilet paper is usually used to clean the area and sometimes several applications of toilet paper may be required. Toilet paper is very absorbent and the cumulative effect of this on the delicate and sensitive area around the opening of the back passage is that the skin tissues can become dry, red and inflamed. If not treated at this stage, the skin can become thickened and hard over a period of months and can even bleed when the area is cleaned. This can be extremely uncomfortable and can cause a very intense localised itch which further aggravates the tissues.

Q. How can it be prevented?

A. Prevention is always better than cure. After passing a bowel motion and cleaning the area with toilet paper, get into the habit of using a smidge of vaseline to moisturise the area.

Q. If prevention is too late, what should I do?

A. If you’re already suffering with this problem, then a trial of an over the counter steroid ointment such as Hydocortisyl can be used two to three times a day over a few days to ease symptoms. (Ask your pharmacist for the ointment as it contains no preservatives – avoid using the cream as this contains preservatives and may cause counter irritation in the tissues).

Q. What should I do if symptoms don’t ease?

A. If symptoms don’t respond after two to three weeks, then a consultation with your Doctor is the next step.