Anal itching is also called pruritus ani and is often characterized by a strong urge to scratch around the skin of around the anus. This condition can be awkward and uncomfortable. Most people experience some itching in the anal area from time to time and this often subsides on its own. The itching may even subside as quickly as within a few hours.
This health conditions may be self explanatory but the main anal itching symptom is the urge to grab some toilet paper and itch in the anal area. The anal itching may also be accompanied by redness, burning and soreness.
Causes of Anal Itching
There are many possible causes of anal itching, the most common causes are:
- A bacterial or fungal infection can cause severe itching in the anal area. It is common for the anus to have naturally occurring bacteria, but sometimes this can growth out of control and the natural balance is disrupted. This can cause irritation and itching. If you have recently been on antibiotics, it may have killed off certain bacteria and a fungal infection can ensue.
- Incontinence and long-term or chronic diarrhea can cause itching.
- Irritants such as moist wipes or harsh soaps may irritate the skin.
- Hemorrhoids (also known as piles) are caused by swollen and or bulging blood vessels. This condition is commonly caused by constipation. Hemorroids can also be a side effect of sitting for long periods of time.
- Eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions can occur around the anus.
- Parasitic infections such as pinworms.
- Washing too much or not washing enough.
What to Do About Anal Itching
There are a few things that you may try to ease anal itching:
- Try to resist the urge to scratch the skin.
- Try not to wipe vigorously after a bowel movement as this could cause anal irritation.
- Decrease the amount of spicy foods and citrus fruits you are eating.
- Wear breathable underwear (eg. cotton underwear). Certain synthetic and non-breathable fabrics can trap moisture in the anus area which may irritate the skin. Also, do not sit around in wet clothing such as a bathing suit.
- Discontinue wearing thong underwear for a while as it can spread bacteria.
- Gently clean the skin around the anus after a bowel movement with warm water and a face cloth or a towelette (ensure the towelette does not contain alcohol). Either use a small amount or cornstarch to absorb the moisture or gently pat away any dampness after cleaning.
- Using a cloth as a barrier, ice or cold pack the anal area for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Certain products such as hydrocortisone cream, zinc oxide, or petroleum jelly being sure to follow the health information provided by the manufacturer. Do not use if you are allergic to any of these products.
- Keep a food diary for you are eating.
When to See a Medical Doctor
- When the anal itching is severe.
- If you have anal bleeding, blood in your stool, or stool leakage.
- If your anal area appears to be infected.
- When the anal itching persists for a long time.
- When you can’t figure out what is causing the itching.