Anal Itching or Pruritus Ani is a common but annoying problem. It occurs more often in men and most of the time, no cause can be identified. Anal itching occurs around and near the anus.
Factors that put people at risk are:
- Recent antibiotic use
- Chronic dry skin conditions such as Psoriasis and Seborrhea
- Profuse sweating
Sometimes an irritant can be identified. In such cases, the itching is usually due to irritation of the skin around the anus.
Some of the most common irritants include these:
- Perfumes, chemicals, or dye on toilet paper can cause an allergic reaction.
- Moisture from sweat or diarrhea may cause itching. If the anal skin stays wet, the skin begins to break down.
- Some foods irritate the anus when they are expelled during a bowel movement. The most common culprits are caffeine, chocolate, beer, nuts, diary products and spicy food.
- Infections such as pinworms, yeast, or genital warts can cause itching.
- Hemorrhoids, which cause painful swelling of blood vessels in the anal area, can cause itching.
- Cancer, in rare instances, may be a cause.
The most common symptom is itching especially at night and after a bowel movement. There may be a rash in the anal area with skin breakdown or a weeping discharge.
Try not to irritate the skin even more by scrubbing the area with soap. This will only cause more irritation and itching. Gentle cleaning with water helps the area heal.
Other home therapies may be tried.
- Change to a plain, soft, unscented toilet paper.
- If toilet paper feels too abrasive, try cleaning with baby wipes. Dry with cotton afterward to remove any moisture. Don’t use soap.
- Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear that allows sweat to evaporate.
- Do not apply any creams or ointment without consulting a doctor.
- Avoid food irritants and eat a high-fiber diet.
Some simple strategies can help you prevent anal itching:
- Avoid known food irritants.
- Do not wear tight-fitting underwear.
- Don’t rub or scratch the area. This makes the itching worse.
- Do not use scented or printed toilet paper.
- Dry anal area after excessive sweating.
- Don’t use products that may irritate the anal skin. These include perfumed or colored toilet paper, deodorant sprays, and perfumed soaps.
Most causes of anal itching can be readily treated.
- Pinworms or a bacterial infection is treated with pills.
- Yeast infections and many rashes improve with antifungal creams available in the market.
- Skin lesions such as warts or hemorrhoids are removed with minor surgical procedures.
Many times the problem originates from over-rubbing the anal area after a bowel movement. All you have to do is to clean it with moistened tissue paper (or preferably plain water) gently. Afterwards, you may dry it by dabbing softly with cotton balls.
If the anal itching is associated with any type of rash, lump, discharge, or fever, then you may need a thorough examination by your doctor.