Pruritus Ani

(Anal Itching)


Pruritus ani is itching in and around the anus. Anal itching is a common problem. It may be mild or severe.

The Anus

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Anal itching can be caused by many things. They may be:

  • Skin problems, such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis
  • Certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, or liver disease
  • Infections, such as:
    • Pinworms
    • Fungi
    • Skin infections from strep bacteria
    • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal fistula, proctitis, or skin tags
  • Certain foods, such as:
    • Tea, coffee, colas
    • Alcohol
    • Chili peppers
    • Citrus
    • Milk
    • Tomatoes
  • Too much moisture around the anus
  • Soaps, scents, and lotions that irritate
  • Certain medicines

Risk Factors

Things that raise the risk of anal itching are:

  • Any of the causes listed above
  • Cleaning the area too much or not enough
  • Sweating
  • Leaking stool


Symptoms are itching and burning in and around the anus. They may go away soon or last a long time.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. The doctor will look for a cause.


The goal of treatment is ease symptoms. Underlying causes will be treated, if known.

Treatment options may be:

  • Self-care, such as:
    • Not using irritating products
    • Using sitz baths and gentle cleaning
    • Wearing loose-fitting clothing
  • Over the counter or prescription medicines, such as:
    • Cortisone creams or ointments—to reduce itching and protect the area
    • Zinc oxide ointment—to protect the area
    • Capsaicin cream—to reduce itching
  • Medicines to treat any underlying conditions


The risk of anal itching may be lowered by:

  • Not using products that irritate
  • Keeping the area clean and dry


American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Dermatology Association


Ansari P. Pruritus ani. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2016;29(1):38-42.
Pruritus ani. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed February 19, 2021.
Pruritus ani expanded version. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed February 19, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated: 2/19/2021

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