No prizes for guessing what this condition makes kids do! Itchy bum, or to give it its medical name ‘pruritus ani’, means an irresistible urge to scratch the anus, either directly, or through underwear. It’s a common experience, and though having an itchy bum isn’t a disease in its own right, it can be a symptom of many different things. It also, unsurprisingly, carries hygiene risks of its own. So what sort of things can get kids scratching down there?
One obvious answer, of course, is if kids don’t wipe themselves properly after going to the toilet, but other possibilities are bacterial or viral infections, an allergy to fabric or soap, and skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Incontinence or constipation, damage to the anus or sphincter (which can be a result of going to the toilet) or gut conditions can also cause itching. Worms too, can lay their eggs round the anus, making it very itchy at night. A skin condition called lichen sclerosus can also cause an itch round the bum and genitals.
All of these possible causes can be made worse by heat, dampness, heavy clothing or even stress. Establishing what you think is the cause may require a bit of investigation, ingenuity and common sense. Young children may not understand why they shouldn’t do it, and find the urge particularly hard to resist. They may also scratch in their sleep at night and then put their fingers in their mouths, which opens up the way to other sorts of infection and enables worms to spread.
Treatment for an itchy bum will depend on exactly what the cause is, but if it’s clearly ongoing and there’s no obvious single trigger, take your child along to your doctor or nurse who can undertake a proper examination.
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