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
- 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
Medical conditions that can cause
an itchy anus include:
- anal fissures
- anal tumors
- fecal incontinence (leaking stool)
- fungal infections
- 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,
What Are the Symptoms of an Itchy Anus?
In addition to itchy anus, you
may also experience:
- visible redness
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
- 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
- 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
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.