Pruritus Ani



Anal itching can be caused by many things. They may be:

  • Skin problems, such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis
  • Some diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, or liver disease
  • Infections, such as:
    • Pinworms
    • Fungi
    • Skin infections from strep bacteria
    • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal fistula, proctitis, or skin tags
  • Certain foods, such as:
    • Tea, coffee, colas
    • Alcohol
    • Chili peppers
    • Citrus
    • Milk
    • Tomatoes
  • Too much moisture around the anus
  • Soaps, scents, and lotions that irritate
  • Certain medicines

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of anal itching are:

  • Any of the causes listed above
  • Cleaning the area too much or not enough
  • Sweating
  • Leaking stool



Symptoms are itching and burning in and around the anus. They may go away soon or last a long time.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. The doctor will look for a cause.



The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms. Underlying causes will be treated, if known.

Treatment options may be:

  • Self care, such as:
    • Not using irritating products
    • Using sitz baths and gentle cleaning
    • Wearing loose-fitting clothing
  • Over the counter or prescription medicines, such as:
    • Cortisone creams or ointments—to reduce itching and protect the area
    • Zinc oxide ointment—to protect the area
    • Capsaicin cream—to reduce itching
  • Medicines to treat any underlying health issues


The risk of anal itching may be lowered by:

  • Not using products that irritate
  • Keeping the area clean and dry

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.