WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Synthetic Fabrics
Avoid spending the whole day in polyester athleisure, or lacy underwear. Opt instead for breathable materials, like cotton, which won't trap moisture. As for thongs, "they can be really harsh and tug and pull, so I often counsel my patients, when they're having irritation, to stay away from thongs," says Laura E. Frado, MD, of New York Gastroenterology Associates. Same goes for tight pants, which help create a damp environment.
2. Fragrant Soaps
Gentle is the key word when it comes to caring for your butt, so it follows that harsh chemicals are a no-no. "Showering once a day is appropriate, and you don't need to use any additional products besides a fragrance-free soap," Dr. Frado says. If you're experiencing acute irritation, she recommends a warm bath. Unfortunately, this is not the time for a bath bomb.
3. Wiping Too Little
We'll put this simply: You may still have a little poop on your butt. "You end up getting itchy and then you compensate by over-cleaning or scratching the area," Dr. Frado says, adding, "There's no perfect way to know how much to wipe," — wiping too much can also cause irritation — "But you shouldn't have any [stool] left on the toilet paper, and you don't have to go internal." If your butt feels particularly irritated after a bowel movement, Dr. Frado suggests showering. "It's not always easy to predict when you're going to go, but it may help."
4. Working Out
Moisture is a common cause of butt irritation, which means sweating can aggravate the area. Again, Dr. Frado recommends showering after exposure to the irritant, then completely drying the anus. "Pat it down with a towel or even try blow-drying the area," she advises. (Use a cool setting.)
These form when the blood vessels in your rectum fill up with too much blood, either from straining to go to the bathroom, sitting for too long, or increased pressure on the veins from pregnancy, for example. "For the majority of people, it's a temporary issue that will calm down over time," Dr. Frado says. She recommends incorporating more fiber into your diet, since soluble fiber works by pulling water into your stool and therefore softening it, without giving you diarrhea. You can also try a product like Preparation H to calm the swelling and itching. (Learn more about hemorrhoids here.)
Fissures are tiny cracks along the exit of the rectum typically caused by the passage of hard stool, and because of their location they can take a while to go away, especially if you keep having harder poops. "I like to relate it to when you have a cracked lip," Dr. Frado says. "Every time you smile, you crack open your lip again." She often has her patients start eating more fiber or taking a fiber supplement to help.
7. Acidic Foods
"What I say once people start having irritation and itching is, ‘Pay attention to your diet,'" Dr. Frado says. If you're consuming too many acidic foods, like tomatoes or citrus fruits, she says those could be culprits, as well as coffee, beer, or dairy products. Keeping a food diary can help you determine what's causing your specific irritation.
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