Pruritus ani can be caused by many things, including:
- Infections such as pinworms, fungi, streptococcal skin infections, or sexually transmitted diseases
- Skin disorders such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis
- Hemorrhoids , anal fissures , anal fistula , proctitis, or skin tags
- Certain foods such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, peanuts, tomatoes
- Too much moisture around rectum
- Irritating soaps, scents, and lotions
- Certain medications such as laxatives or topical steroids
- Certain diseases such as diabetes or liver disease
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Ideally, the cause of the problem will be identified and treated. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a bacterial infection. Treatment for the itching and irritation may include:
Making changes can help ease symptoms. Examples include:
- Gently cleaning the area with water when bathing
- Using a sitz bath
- Drying the area thoroughly
- Using cotton, gauze, or cornstarch to absorb moisture
- Avoiding scratching the area
- Using unbleached, unscented toilet paper
- Wearing loose cotton clothing and underwear
- Avoiding irritants such as bubble baths or certain foods
Your doctor may advise one or more of the following:
- Over-the-counter or prescription cream or ointment containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids to reduce itching and provide protection
- Zinc oxide ointment—to provide protection
- Topical capsaicin—to reduce itching
- Certain medications to treat infection if this is thought to be the cause of your itchings
To help reduce your chances of pruritis ani:
- Avoid tight-fitting, synthetic clothing
- Try to keep the area clean and dry, but avoid excessive cleaning
- Use barrier ointments
- Avoid scratching at the area
- Avoid using perfumes, dyes, and any other irritants on the area
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid certain medications such as opioids or laxatives
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Anal Itching)
American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians https://familydoctor.org
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology https://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Dermatology Association https://dermatology.ca
Ansari P. Pruritus ani. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2016;29(1):38-42.
Pruritus ani. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116635/Pruritus-ani . Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Pruritus ani expanded version. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/pruritis-ani-expanded-version. Accessed December 18, 2017.