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Pruritus Ani

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


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
  • Some 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 may 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 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
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.