Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

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This Week - I : Itchy Bottom

You can often do simple things yourself to ease an itchy bottom (anus). Get medical help if the itching does not stop.

How to ease an itchy bottom yourself


  • gently wash and dry your anus after pooing and before bed

  • wash with water only, or use unscented soap when washing

  • wear loose-fitting cotton underwear

  • keep cool - avoid clothing and bedding that makes you overheat

  • eat plenty of fibre - such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread, pasta and cereal to avoid constipation


  • do not dry your bottom after washing by wiping or rubbing it, instead pat it dry using a towel or cotton wool

  • avoid wiping or rubbing your bottom too much with wet wipes

  • do not scratch, but if you cannot stop, keep your fingernails short and wear cotton gloves at night

  • do not strain when you go to the toilet

  • do not use scented soaps, bubble bath or bath oil

  • do not use perfumes or powders near your anus

  • do not eat food or drink that makes your itching worse, for example caffeine, alcohol, citrus fruit or spicy foods

A pharmacist can help with an itchy bottom

You can ask the pharmacist if they have a private area where you can speak.

They can suggest:

  • creams and ointments you can buy to help ease itching, such as steroid creams
  • medicine and things you should do at home if it's caused by threadworms - children under 2 and pregnant or breastfeeding women need to see a GP, midwife or health visitor instead

Find a pharmacy


Using steroid creams and ointments for an itchy bottom

Do not use steroid creams or ointments for longer than 1 week because they can irritate your skin and make things worse.

Get medical advice if the itching is not going away after using a steroid cream or ointment for 1 week.

See a GP if:

  • you have an itchy bottom that is not going away
  • the itch keeps coming back
  • you have pain in your bottom
  • you have blood in your poo, which might be dark red or black
  • you're bleeding or leaking liquid from your bottom
  • you've noticed a change in your bowel habits
  • you have an itchy bottom and feel itchy on other parts of your body
  • you notice a change around your anus that is not usual for you

Treatment from a GP

A GP will try to work out the cause of your itching. They may need to check your bottom (rectal examination).

Depending on the cause, the GP might:

  • suggest trying things to ease it yourself
  • prescribe medicine, such as stronger steroid creams, or ointments


Tell the GP immediately if a cream, ointment or other medicine makes the itching worse.

Sexual health clinics can help with an itchy bottom

You can also go to a sexual health clinic if you think your itchy bottom might be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) - for example, if you've had unprotected sex. They can provide the same treatments you would get from a GP.

Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.

Find a sexual health clinic

Causes of an itchy bottom

There's not always a clear cause of an itchy bottom. If it gets better quickly, it might have been caused by something that does not need treatment, like sweating a lot in hot weather.

If it lasts longer, you might be able to get an idea of the cause from any other symptoms you have. See a GP if you're worried or if your symptoms keep coming back.


It's unusual for an itchy bottom to be caused by something serious. But rarely, it may be a sign of conditions like diabetes or anal cancer, so it's important to get it checked by a GP.

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We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77, ajr_images or rawpixel.com.


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