Pruritus ani is itching in and around the anus. Anal itching is a common problem. It may be mild or severe.
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Anal itching can be caused by many things. They may be:
- Skin problems, such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis
- Some diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, or liver disease
- Infections, such as:
- Skin infections from strep bacteria
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal fistula, proctitis, or skin tags
- Certain foods, such as:
- Tea, coffee, colas
- Chili peppers
- Too much moisture around the anus
- Soaps, scents, and lotions that irritate
- Certain medicines
Things that may raise the risk of anal itching are:
- Any of the causes listed above
- Cleaning the area too much or not enough
- 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 symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. The doctor will look for a cause.
The goal of treatment is to 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 health issues
The risk of anal itching may be lowered by:
- Not using products that irritate
- Keeping the area clean and dry
- Ansari, P. Pruritus ani. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, 2016; 29 (1): 38-42.
- Pruritus ani. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pruritus-ani.
- Pruritus ani expanded version. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/pruritis-ani-expanded-version.
- Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
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