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Itchy Anus
Anal itching, or pruritus ani, is a common symptom of a variety of conditions. Most cases of anal itching can be treated at home without need f...

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What Is an Itchy Anus?

Anal itching (pruritus ani) is a common symptom that can stem from many causes. Most anal itching can be treated at home without need for further intervention.

What Causes an Itchy Anus?

The causes of itchy anus are often related to skin or internal medical issues. Skin-related causes of itchy anus include:

  • atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema
  • excess friction to the anal area, such as rough wiping after a bowel movement
  • exposure to perfumes and dyes present in toilet tissue, soaps, or clothing detergents
  • improper wiping after having a bowel movement
  • psoriasis

Medical conditions that can cause an itchy anus include:

  • anal fissures
  • anal tumors
  • diarrhea
  • fecal incontinence (leaking stool)
  • fungal infections
  • hemorrhoids
  • parasite infections
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • skin tags
  • streptococcal infections
  • yeast infections

Other causes include taking laxatives or other medications that cause diarrhea. Certain foods are also linked with itchy anus. These include alcohol, caffeinated beverages, peanuts, and tomatoes.

What Are the Symptoms of an Itchy Anus?

In addition to itchy anus, you may also experience:

  • burning
  • soreness
  • visible redness
  • swelling
  • ulcers
  • rash 

When to Seek Medical Help

Itchy anus symptoms are rarely a medical emergency. An exception is when you experience bleeding from your rectum. Bleeding may signal recurrent gastrointestinal bleeding.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if your itchy anus disrupts your daily life and is getting worse even after self-care treatments.

How Is an Itchy Anus Treated?

If an itchy anus is due to an infection, a doctor can prescribe an antifungal or antiparasitic treatment to eradicate the infectious organisms. Prescription ointments that have higher steroid doses can also lessen itching and reduce inflammation.

Hemorrhoids that cause an itchy anus may require more invasive treatments, such as banding to shrink the hemorrhoid or surgical removal of the hemorrhoid.

Avoiding foods and medications known to cause itchy anus can also reduce symptoms.

How Do I Care for an Itchy Anus?

You can take several steps at home to treat an itchy anus. These include:

  • applying petroleum jelly or Vaseline to the affected area
  • cleaning the area with water and a soft washcloth when bathing
  • drying the anal area thoroughly after using the restroom and bathing
  • refraining from scratching the anal area
  • refraining from using bath products that contain perfumes or dyes, which can irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction
  • using toilet paper that doesn’t contain harsh dyes or bleaches
  • wearing breathable cotton underwear that is not too tight
  • wiping with moistened wipes or toilet paper moistened with water to prevent stool material from staying on the anal skin

Many drugstores sell special basins that allow you to take a sitz bath. In a sitz bath, you place your buttocks and hips in warm water for up to 20 minutes. Sitting in a sitz bath after a bowel movement can help reduce irritation and itching. Always gently dry the anal area after the bath.

You can also purchase several over-the-counter topical creams to treat anal itching. These include zinc oxide, hydrocortisone cream, or topical capsaicin cream.

How Can I Prevent An Itchy Anus?

Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent an itchy anus. This includes eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. These steps help promote digestive regularity to prevent diarrhea and hemorrhoids.

Practicing good hygiene can help prevent itching. Good practices include refraining from scratching and keeping the anal area clean and dry.

Wearing loose-fitting clothing with natural, breathable fibers can minimize irritation and moisture. Refraining from using soaps and detergents with dyes and perfumes can also prevent skin irritation that leads to an itchy anus.

Written by: Rachel Nall, RN, BSN
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by:
Published: Aug 5, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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