Know the basics
What is anal itching?
Anal itching, also known as the medical name pruritus ani, is a burning or itching of the anus and skin around it. People having anal itching may find it uncomfortable and embarrassing.
How common is anal itching?
It is common and affects both sexes and people of all ages. People with diabetes may have more risk of getting this condition. Treatment can control symptoms, but the problem can come back.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of anal itching?
Some symptoms of anal itching include:
- Itching, redness of skin around the anus.
- Skin abrasions caused by scratching.
- Itching is often intense and worse at night.
- Skin thickening and chronic inflammation (swelling, redness) can occur. Damaged skin can get a bacterial infection.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- High fever.
- Anal itching for more than two months.
- Bleeding or discharge from the anus.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes anal itching?
Often, the cause is unknown. The many causes include:
- Infections with yeast, herpesvirus, human papillomavirus (HPV, which causes genital warts), pinworms, mites (which cause scabies), and lice. Skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis, may start as anal itching.
- Soaps, contraceptive jellies and foams, scented toilet paper, deodorant sprays, and douches can cause contact dermatitis.
- People with chronic diarrhea may have itching.
- Diseases of the rectum, such as hemorrhoids, fissures (tears), fistulas, and rectal prolapse, may cause itching.
- Women near or after menopause may have itching caused by vaginal discharge or low estrogen levels.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for anal itching?
There are many risk factors for anal itching, such as:
- Skin sensitivity: contact with rough surfaces or some chemicals such as soap, perfume, tissue…
- Other diseases: Chronic diarrhea, hemorrhoids and skin problems (such as psoriasis and contact dermatitis) can cause anal itching.
- Anal cancer.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.
How is anal itching diagnosed?
The doctor makes a diagnosis from symptoms and an examination of the rectum and the skin surrounding it. Laboratory studies are sometimes needed to identify fungi. Examinations with a microscope may be needed to look for pinworm eggs or mites in skin.
How is anal itching treated?
The key to treatment is self-care and avoiding the things that lead to itching. Keep the area clean, cool, and dry.
Over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment or cream can control itching. It’s applied three times a day, rubbed in gently until it disappears. Hydrocortisone shouldn’t be used for longer than 5 days because it may cause more irritation and damage the skin.
If over-the-counter medicine doesn’t help, the doctor may prescribe a stronger topical cortisone or other drugs.
Yeast, herpes, genital warts, scabies, and infections with pinworms and lice if present must be treated with the right medicines. Rectal diseases may need other treatments.
Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage anal itching?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with anal itching:
- Keep the area clean, cool, and dry.
- Use plain, unscented soaps.
- Clean the area with moistened unscented tissue 01 tufts of cotton after bowel movements.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Wear loose clothing and cotton underwear.
- Call your doctor if the area seems to be infected.
If you have any questions, Please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 331
Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., Homeier, B. P., & Albert, R. K. (2009). The Merck manual home health handbook. Whitehouse Station, NJ, Merck Research Laboratories. Print edition. Page183
Mayo Clinic. Anal itching. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anal-itching/basics/definition/con-20023539. Accessed February 28, 2016.
Review Date: August 15, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019