Pruritus Ani) otherwise called anal itch has a variety of causes, from
irritation due to rough
paper, to chemicals in the food we eat (peppers, hot spices) to anal
leakage. Anal itch represents that there is skin irritation in the anus
that can become so severe that a person
cannot stop scratching, which can lead to further irritation. A visit
to your doctor to discuss your symptoms can lead to treatment solutions
such as topical creams or an antihistamine. If necessary, other tests
can be performed to find the cause of the itch. "
Causes of External Anal Itch
Some of the causes of an itchy anus include:
- Too much moisture. Moist
sticky stools or excessive
the anus can lead to itching.
- Chemical irritants.
Douching, laundry soap, birth control
and colognes can contain chemicals that irritate the anal area.
- Incontinence. Chronic
diarrhea or anal leakage can cause
- Dry skin. As a person
grows older, skin tends to become
can cause itching.
- Excessive washing. The
use of strong soaps or strenuous
cause anal itching. Also, using rough toilet paper or not washing away
the soap after bathing can be a cause.
- Yeast Infections. A
common infection in women can affect
anal and genital areas. This is also common in individuals
with diabetes mellitus and HIV.
- Laxatives. Frequent or
overuse of laxatives can lead to
This can cause itching.
- Common Skin Disorders.
Eczema, seborrhea and
psoriasis can be found around the anus and cause itching. Skin
tags can also be a cause (growth of anal skin in an abnormal
- Chemicals in Foods. Some
spices and peppers can
cause itching such as those in hot sauce.
- Chrons Disease. In
cases of Chrons Disease where
there are abnormal fluids that move through fistulas or abnormal
pathways to the anus, the fluids can cause skin irritation and itch.
Anal Itch can be
caused by a fistula, which either due to Crohns Disease or a caused by
an anal abscess that formed due to clogged anal glands. When the gland
becomes infected, it can form an escape pathway to the skin surface,
Source: American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
- Hemorroids. These
help control the stool as it
exists the body. They can cause anal itching when they become
- Pinworms (also called
threadworms). These worms inhabit the
small intestine with the female moving to the anus to lay her eggs. As
part of this process a substance is secreted which causes anal itching.
The condition is not considered to be dangerous and is
treated with the over the counter medications Reese's Pinworm
Medication or Pin-X. Diagnosis is done my using scotch tape
to capture some worms from the anus, which is then examined under a
- Bacterial infection.
Infections such as streptococci or
corynebacteria minutissimum (erythrasma) can cause purritius ani.
- Allergy. If you using
moisturized wipes or something
similar, the chemicals used can trigger an allergic reaction in the
The symptoms of this condition are quite obvious. The anal
and can also be accompanied by soreness, pain or burning. A person can
be so irritated by the itching that he continually scratches the area,
which can lead to more intense symptoms.
A diagnosis can sometimes be handled by answering
questions asked by your doctor concerning your symptoms. If this is not
enough information to make a diagnosis, your doctor might refer you to
a dermatologist or proctologist. In some cases, a rectal exam might be
required, or in more questionable cases, a doctor might order a
colonoscopy or proctoscopy.
This condition is most often treated with over-the-counter
as hydrocortisone or zinc oxide. Popular products include Lanacane
These products are thinly applied to the outside of the anus
and often to the anus itself through something called a pile pipe.
When showering, gently clean the anus and make sure that it is
dry. When going to the bathroom consider using baby wipes as
a softer alternative to toilet paper. If your symptoms tend to increase
severity or frequency at night, a doctor could prescribe an
antihistamine, as well as the topical treatments.
alternative formulated to naturally treat itch around the anus and any
burning is also available called Anal
Itch Assist. It combines several ingredients known
to provide relief from skin irritation such as Fagopyrum, Croton and
Sulphur (for red and sore areas). Another natural product, RectoRex
Balm, is particularly helpful if the anus is inflamed or raw.
Association of Dermatologists