Anal Itching

What is Anal Itching?

Also called puritis ani, anal itching can be intensely irritating and downright painful. Not only does the anus itch but often the skin around the anus called the perianal skin. The bad news is that in most cases doctors cannot find a cause for anal itching in their patients. The good news is that over the counter and home remedies often provide effective relief.

What are the Symptoms of Anal Itching?

Anal itching is often an incredible urge to scratch the anus and the perianal skin.

Symptoms include

Do not scratch or the skin could break open, leading to infection. The skin may or may not be reddened. Go to a doctor immediately if home remedies do not work or if the anus is bleeding, if hemorrhoids or growths can be felt, if bloody diarrhea begins, if pus begins leaking from the anus or if the skin is hot and swollen which could indicate infection. Also go to a doctor if the itching is so intense that it makes life unbearable.

Anal Itching Causes

Known causes of anal itching include lack of bathing, hemorrhoids, parasite infestation, tumors growing in the anus or allergic reactions to soaps, medications, undergarments or personal cleansing wipes.

Anal itching can occur in a person due to several factors, such as by irritating chemicals found in the foods we eat, particularly foods with lots of spices, peppers, and hot sauces. It can occur because of the burning irritation of severe moisture in the anus from consistent diarrhea, liquid stools, or escape of small chunks of stool.

High levels of moisture put a patient’s health at great risk since their anus is prone to various infections like yeast. People with diabetes and HIV are very much affected compared to other patients. Other factors that can lead to anal itching include hemorrhoids, pinworms, skin tags, and tears of the anal skin (fissures).

How is Anal Itching Treated?

Home remedies and lifestyle changes help relieve the intensity and duration of anal itching.

Home remedies

Wear only loose cotton clothing so the perianal skin can be kept dry. Avoid eating spicy meals. Avoid any food or drink with caffeine. Avoid bubble baths, bath oils or douches. Use only gentle cleaners on the perianal area and make sure the area is dry before putting on clothing.

Treatment includes

Since there are so many possible causes of anal itching, the quickest way to get the most effective treatment is through a medical exam which may require a stool sample and a manual inspection of the anus. Anti-itch creams with medications such as corticosteroids help reduce pain and swelling. Antibiotics, antihistamines or medications to eliminate internal parasites may be prescribed.

Anal Itching Prevention

Prevention of anal itching consists of keeping the area clean by washing properly, keeping the surface cool and dry, and avoiding irritants.

Patients suffering from anal itching should try the below self-care measures:

1. Cleanse gently. After bowel movements, wipe or clean the surface with mild soap or plain water. You may also use a small squeeze bottle of water or moist cotton balls to clean the area. Don’t scrub. Focus on keeping the area clean without further hurting the skin instead. And when traveling by air, make sure to pack an empty squeeze bottle which you can readily fill with water in washrooms.

2. Dry completely. After cleansing, tap the area dry using a towel or toilet paper. You can also use a hair dryer set on low. Avoid cornstarch powder, as this can enhance bacteria growth. You could fix a dry or moistened cotton ball against the anus to help dry or absorb moisture. Replace the material after use.

3. Don’t scratch. Scratching further harms the skin and results in persistent inflammation. Slow down the effect by taking a lukewarm bath or applying a cold compress to the area. Trim your nails short and put on cotton gloves before you sleep to help prevent damage from scratching.

4. Avoid irritants. Avoid genital deodorants, bubble baths, moist wipes, perfumed soaps and other items that might irritate the anal area. Some other items to cut back on include alcohol, chocolate, citrus fruits, spicy foods, and other foods that may cause diarrhea. Also, stop the overuse of laxatives.

5. Apply ointments or gels. Keep your skin dry by using some petroleum jelly or adding a layer of zinc oxide cream to the area. These products help absorb moisture on the skin area and also relieve itching.

6. Maintain regular, firm bowel movements. If continuous soft bowel movement is an issue, trying a diet rich in fiber may help. Some fiber supplements may also do the trick! For persistent anal itching, make sure you see a doctor to examine the area and determine the cause of anal itching. A change in diet and treatment of worrying symptoms, including some surgical procedures, may take place to correct the underlying cause.

Last Reviewed:
September 12, 2016
Last Updated:
June 02, 2018