The Causes of a Toddler's Itchy Anus

If your child keeps scratching their bottom, there are a few different causes to explore. Check to make sure they are thoroughly wiping, since this is one of the most common reasons for anal itching in young children, especially those who are just learning to use the potty.

what is causing your child's itchy anus
Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

Causes of Itching and Irritation

Toddlers and young children may complain of an itchy anus or you may see redness or irritation in the area. Consult your child's doctor to determine the cause and get treatment.

Pinworms

If much of the itching occurs at night and keeps your child awake, a pinworm infestation is likely the cause. If they have just started wetting the bed, that could also be due to pinworms irritating the urethra. 

Pinworms, also known as Enterobius vermicularis, very commonly cause infections in kids, especially those in daycare. You should seek pediatric care if your child may have a pinworm infection. Your doctor may recommend pyrantel pamoate treatment. The itching from pinworm can continue for a week after treatment.

Yeast Infection

A yeast infection may cause a rash in the skin folds of the groin area. It is bold red with a slightly raised border and may have satellite spots of inflamed areas. If your child has diaper rash that does not respond to treatment within two days, check with your doctor to see if a yeast infection is the problem.

Perianal Strep Infection

A perianal strep infection can cause itchy anus. This can happen if other family members have recently had strep throat. The signs are a bright red rash around the anus with sharply defined edges. Your child may also have blood-streaked stools and may have a fever. Your pediatrician will prescribe oral antibiotics and you may also be given topical medications to use as well.

Other Causes

Other possible reasons for an irritated, itchy anus in a young child include:

  • Chafing from too-tight clothing
  • Reaction to detergents
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritation caused by spicy foods or citrus (especially orange juice)

Treating Your Toddler's Anal Itching at Home

Try these remedies to soothe your child's bottom. Be sure to check with their pediatrician, too, since pinworms and infections won't go away without medical treatment, and diarrhea could be a sign of infection or food allergy.

Keep the Area Clean

Make sure your child's genitals and bottom stay clean. Those new to potty training may need some help for a while until they get the hang of wiping properly (front to back) and thoroughly. Invest in some flushable wipes if your child has hard-to-wipe bowel movements (or use baby wipes, but don't flush them).

Trim your child's fingernails so they don't cause injury when scratching. Clean them daily with a soft nail brush and antibacterial soap.

After baths, make sure the area is completely dry. Moisture provides an ideal environment for yeast growth, which can cause further irritation. Be sure to change underwear frequently, especially on hot days or during potty training when even small leaks can cause enough moisture to be a problem. You can also use cornstarch on the area

Soothe Itching

Apply witch hazel with a cotton ball or pad. You can find this liquid at most drug and discount stores. It's very mild and soothing.

Prepare a bath and let your child soak for 15 minutes or so twice daily. You can mix about 1/4 cup of baking soda in a tub of warm water, or you can make a colloidal oatmeal bath.

If all else fails, there are a variety of anti-itch creams (usually containing hydrocortisone) that can safely be used in the area.

Anti-itch creams are for external use only. Consult with your physician about proper usage and dosing, especially in children under age 2. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a special low-dose cream in this instance.

Avoid Irritants

If your child consumes a lot of spicy foods or citrus fruit or juices, try eliminating them from the diet for a couple of weeks and see if the situation improves.

Try using dye-free, perfume-free soap on your child's undergarments. Make sure you aren't using fabric softener, which can also cause irritation to this sensitive area. If you use scented toilet paper or wipes, try switching to plain varieties.

Make sure diapers, underwear, and other clothing fit well. If they are too tight, they can cause chafing that progresses to itching and redness.

A Word From Verywell

If your child is showing signs of anal itching, it is a good time to review potty habits and ensure your child is clean and dry, no matter what the ultimate cause. Be sure to consult your doctor and discuss any symptoms so you can get appropriate treatment.

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