Why is anal health and hygiene important?
Yep, you should get familiar with your own butt, so that if there is an issue (like an atypical unpleasant odor), you'll be able to notice something out of the ordinary more quickly.
"Seeing the anus frequently allows for us to detect a small change sooner," Rafael A. Lugo, MD, FACS, owner and CEO of Lugo Surgical Group, previously told Well+Good. "The benefit [of checking yourself out] is early detection of curable problems, that, if left undiagnosed, can turn into a more serious issue." That includes smell, infection, anus cramps, and other issues.
It's also particularly important to care for the butt and butthole regularly, since this is a pretty sensitive body part.
"I think one thing that people need to understand is that the anus and anal area is very thin, so you really need to treat it with respect," Evan Goldstein, DO, anal surgeon and founder of Future Method, previously told Well+Good about anal hygiene, with tips on how to clean your butt.
While keeping your bottom clean is paramount, you also need to be wary of over-cleaning, because it can disrupt the anal microbiome. Your butt's ecosystem contains good bacteria that prevent infections. But if you use anti-microbial wipes or douche before anal sex, you could be more prone to infections if you sustain small cuts in your rectum.
Fear not, here's everything you need to know about properly cleaning—and what to do if you're still smelling abnormally stinky down there.
Why does your butt smell? (Hint: It's not just poop!)
Here's a fun fact: As far as odors go, your anus smell is similar to your armpit. "They're both hard-to-reach areas, there's not a lot of air, there's hair, and there's moisture," Dr. Goldstein says. "So all of those things combined with sweat glands in the area can affect the smell." Body parts that aren't exposed to air are more likely to have a scent (if you think about the B.O. hot spots on your body, they all have that in common), and it just so happens that both the armpit and butt area are also hotspots for pheromones, your body's natural scent.
Of course, there's one big factor that makes the anus smell different than an armpit: Poop comes out of it. "When you think about smell [from the butt], everyone's minds go right to poop," says Dr. Goldstein. So it's understandable (though unnecessary) if you're feeling a bit squeamish while asking, How do I stop my butt from smelling?
Make sure you're washing your butt correctly
If you're got a smelly backside, let's get back to basics and make sure you're wiping and washing correctly. You should wipe front to back using several wads of toilet paper if necessary, but resist the urge to use wet wipes, says Dr. Goldstein.
"People use wet wipes and then pull up their pants, so what happens is that the moisture sits there," said Dr. Goldstein. "The moisture just festers, and it causes a change in bacteria and leads to irritation." This is basically the opposite of what you're after.
Dr. Goldstein recommends either using a bidet or taking a shower post-poop to maintain the freshest scent and best overall butt health.
"The key is how do you wipe the least and be the cleanest that you can be," says Dr. Goldstein. "Using a bidet or a water attachment of some sort or popping into the shower and cleaning yourself is your best bet for making sure your butt is clean."
Speaking of poop, here are some foods that can help ease constipation:
If you think, My anus smells even after washing, here's how to get rid of butt odor
So you're wiping correctly, and even going the extra mile to use a bidet or gently cleanse your butt in the shower, but you're still having issues with stink? Here are some places to start.
Consider opting for a body or butt scrub to slough off dead skin cell buildup and debris. "A lot of people augment smell with different oils or lotions, and I am all for that," says Dr. Goldstein. He's a huge proponent of a nighttime shower combined with regular use of a gentle exfoliant. "The purpose of a body scrub is to create a really good environment for healthy tissue, but also for a really good lingering smell."
Essentially, we want to be just as attentive to our butts—or even more so—as the rest of our bodies.
"The everyday grime from life's activities is not limited to our hands and faces. It accumulates across our entire body, including—you guessed it—the anal region," Dr. Goldstein says about the importance of anal exfoliation. "We sweat, we poop, we have sex, and all of these situations create bodily waste and fluids that need an appropriate scrub to cleanse and rejuvenate the skin. And just like the face, exfoliation is paramount to creating healthy anal hygiene."
Keep your bottom dry
Outside of the shower (read: on the day-to-day), you'll want to be sure to keep the area as dry as possible.
"If you don't dry yourself off completely [after a shower], the moisture is then sitting between your cheeks," says Dr. Goldstein. "When it's not dry, you're sitting all day long or all night with excess moisture, which can lead to a significant amount of issues."
Those issues can turn into stinky problems, like bacterial or fungal infections.
Eliminating moisture is also where your underwear choice comes into play.
"Moisture can be trapped if you're wearing older underwear," says Dr. Goldstein, who stresses that aeration is key for a better-smelling anal area. "The purpose of many of the newer pairs of underwear is aeration, which allows things to dry— especially if you're sweating."
Change your breathable underwear frequently, especially post-gym. Or better yet—consider going commando. "Some people don't wear underwear at all, and the aeration is better, especially during summer months where there's so much moisture in that area that this smell may dissipate."
Eat a high-fiber diet
Eating foods with more fiber can lead to sturdier stools that require less clean-up. If your stools are loose, they can be harder to clean correctly, and you could be at risk of over-wiping, which can leave behind tissue, or even cause lesions and lead to infection.
When to seek medical help
If you're noticing a sudden change in how your bum smells—if there's a fishy or foul-smelling order accompanied by discharge—or if you're dealing with other issues like pain, fever, and gastrointestinal issues, you might need to chat with a doctor to rule out hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, or other health conditions.
Sometimes a butt is just smelly
Never even considered how your butt smells? Fair. Butts aren't supposed to smell like daisies, and doing nothing for the sake of bettering your anal smell is a-okay too.
"There are so many different camps of people," says Dr. Goldstein. "Some people don't use deodorant, and they love their natural scent. A lot of people like to be able to smell their partner and understand their natural smell."
In other words: To each their own.
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