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Anal itching, or pruritus ani, is a common symptom of a variety of conditions. Most cases of anal itching can be treated at home without need for further intervention.
The causes of itchy anus are often related to skin or internal medical issues. Skin-related causes of itchy anus include:
Medical conditions that can cause an itchy anus include:
Other causes include taking laxatives or other medications that cause diarrhea. Certain foods are also linked with itchy anus. These include:
In addition to itchy anus, you may also experience:
Itchy anus symptoms are rarely a medical emergency. An exception is when you experience bleeding from your rectum. Bleeding may signal recurrent gastrointestinal bleeding.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if your itchy anus disrupts your daily life and is getting worse even after self-care treatments.
If an itchy anus is due to an infection, a doctor can prescribe an antifungal, antibacterial, or antiparasitic treatment to eradicate the infectious organisms. Prescription ointments that have higher steroid doses can also lessen itching and reduce inflammation.
Hemorrhoids that cause an itchy anus may require more invasive treatments, such as banding to shrink the hemorrhoid or surgical removal of the hemorrhoid.
Avoiding foods and medications known to cause itchy anus can also reduce symptoms.
You can take several steps at home to treat an itchy anus. Consider the following:
Many drugstores sell special basins that allow you to take a sitz bath. In a sitz bath, you place your buttocks and hips in warm water for up to 20 minutes. Sitting in a sitz bath after a bowel movement can help reduce irritation and itching. Always gently dry the anal area after the bath.
You can also purchase several over-the-counter topical creams to treat anal itching. These include zinc oxide, hydrocortisone cream, or topical capsaicin cream.
Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent an itchy anus. These lifestyle measures include:
Eating well and getting regular exercise can help promote digestive regularity to prevent diarrhea and hemorrhoids.
Practicing good hygiene can help prevent itching. Good practices include refraining from scratching and keeping the anal area clean and dry.
Wearing loose-fitting clothing with natural, breathable fibers can minimize irritation and moisture.
Refraining from using soaps and detergents with dyes and perfumes can also prevent skin irritation that leads to an itchy anus.
Written by: Rachel Nall, RN, BSN
Medically reviewed on: Oct 28, 2016: Graham Rogers, MD
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