Diarrhea is a common symptom of IBD and it may lead to irritated or itchy skin around the anus.
Keeping the skin clean and dry is the best way to minimize sore skin:
- Use moist towelette wipes as they can be more comfortable than dry toilet paper. Choose alcohol-free versions or ones for sensitive skin.
- Whenever you can, wash around your anus after passing stool. A bidet works well. If you don’t have access to a bidet, try your shower attachment. A jug of warm water can work, too, or simply a soft disposable cloth with warm water. Avoid using disinfectants or antiseptics when washing because they can irritate your skin.
- Soap tends to dry the skin so avoid using soap in this area.
- When drying, be gentle and pat rather than rub. Alternatively, try using a hair dryer on a low heat setting.
- Avoid scratching because this will make your pain worse.
Adjust your clothing to try to allow air to the area:
- Wear cotton underwear and avoid synthetic material.
- Cotton allows the skin to breathe.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- If you use incontinence pads, make sure they are soft and that no plastic touches your skin.
If you are still experiencing discomfort, talk to your IBD team to see what other products can help heal your sore skin. Treatment options may include:
- A barrier product to protect your skin. They come in different forms such as creams and wipes. Check to make sure you are not allergic. Use a little of the cream because too much can make the area sweaty.
- Topical medications for anal irritation and itching include topical steroid creams or ointments, applied two or three times a day to the affected area for short periods of time. An alternative is topical capsaicin cream.
- Oral medications can be prescribed if there is an infection. These include antibiotic and antifungal medications.
Sometimes people with IBD can develop anal fissures, which are small painful tears or sores in the lining of the anus. For more information on how to manage these sores, see our page on Anal Fissures and Hemorrhoids.