Anal itching, also known as anal pruritis or pruritus ani, is a common condition characterized by a persistent or recurrent itching sensation around the anus. The sensation of itching can be intense and accompanied by a strong urge to scratch leading to embarrassing situations.
It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor hygiene, skin irritation, and certain medical conditions. Anal itching may be associated with redness, burning and soreness.
Common causes of anal pruritus include:
- Vast majority of anal itching is idiopathic (no identifiable cause) or due to poor hygiene – not cleaning the anus properly after bowel movements or diarrhea and fecal incontinence can lead to irritation and itching.
- Skin irritation – the skin around the anus can become irritated by friction, moisture, or exposure to irritating substances such as perfumes or dyes in toilet paper or hygiene products.
- Infections and infestations including sexually transmitted infections, pinworms and yeast infections.
- Skin conditions such as eczema, scabies, psoriasis or contact dermatitis.
- Foods – such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, nuts, chocolate, dairy products, coffee and dietary irritants, such as chili peppers.
- Other medical conditions – anal pruritus can be a symptom of certain medical conditions, such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, skin tags, anal tumors, diabetes, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, jaundice, leukemia, lymphoma.
- It can also be a side effect of medications such as certain chemotherapy drugs, colchicine, neomycin, and quinidine etc.
Treatment for anal pruritus is often challenging. Once anal itching from any cause occurs, an itch-scratch-itch cycle can begin, in which scratching begets more itching. Often, skin becomes excoriated and secondarily infected, causing yet more itching. Also, topical treatments for itching and infection may be sensitizing, causing further itching.
- In many cases, simple measures such as keeping the area clean and dry, using unscented toilet paper, and avoiding scratching can help alleviate symptoms.
- Over-the-counter creams and ointments, such as hydrocortisone or calamine lotion, can also be helpful in relieving itching and irritation.
- Over the counter antihistamine creams or oral medication may provide relief if itching is particularly troublesome during the night.
- Local anesthetics – these can temporarily relieve pain and itching; they include benzocaine, benzyl alcohol, lidocaine, and pramoxine.
Anal pruritus, also known as anal itching, is a common condition characterized by a persistent or recurrent itching sensation around the anus.
Anal itching or pruritus can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor hygiene, skin irritation, and certain medical conditions. It can also be a side effect of certain medications. Most commonly, there is no clear identifiable cause.
Anal pruritus is usually diagnosed based on the patient’s symptoms and a physical examination. Further testing, such as a rectal exam or laboratory tests, may be necessary to identify the underlying cause of the itching.
Treatment for anal pruritus will depend on the underlying cause. Simple measures such as keeping the area clean and dry, using unscented toilet paper, and avoiding scratching can help alleviate symptoms. Over-the-counter creams and ointments can also be helpful in relieving itching and irritation. If the cause of the anal pruritus is a medical condition, treatment will focus on addressing the underlying issue.
In some cases, simple measures such as maintaining good hygiene and avoiding irritation can help prevent anal pruritus. Avoiding certain medications that may cause anal itching as a side effect may also be helpful. If the cause of the anal pruritus is a medical condition, following the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider can help prevent recurrence of the itching.