What is Anal Itching?
Anal itching or pruritus ani (proo-RIE-tus AY-nie) is itching around the anus (the outlet of the rectum), which may be temporary or persistent and accompanied by a strong, uncontrollable urge to scratch.
Possible causes of anal itching include:
• Local causes. Both dry skin due to aging and too much moisture around the anus from excessive sweating or from moist, sticky stools.
• Medical conditions such as fecal incontinence, skin disorders, yeast and other infections, hemorrhoids, anal abrasions, fissures, and fistulas, and anal tumors can all cause anal itching.
• Medications. Some antibiotics, as well as overuse of laxatives, can lead to diarrhea that can irritate the anus and cause excessive itching.
• Irritants from chemicals such as laundry soaps, colognes, douches and birth control products can irritate skin around the anus, and certain foods can cause diarrhea or may directly or indirectly irritate your anus as they exit your colon.
• Eating certain foods, smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages, especially beer and wine, may cause pruritus ani in some individuals. Some food items associated with anal itching are:
• Coffee, Tea
• Carbonated beverages
• Milk products
• Tomatoes and tomato products such as Ketchup
• Personal habits such as scratching and excessive washing irritate the anus and aggravate itching.
• Other causes. Anal itching may be related to anxiety or stress.
• Sometimes, the cause is undetermined.
Anal itching is associated with other similar symptoms in and around the anus, including burning, soreness or pain.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Prevention of anal itching mainly involves washing properly and avoiding irritants. If you already have anal itching, try these self-care measures:
• Cleanse gently. Wash the area with water in the morning, at night and immediately after bowel movements.
• Dry thoroughly. Pat, don’t rub, the area dry with toilet paper or a towel, and keep the area dry with a piece of cotton gauze or non-medicated talcum or cornstarch powder.
• Use over-the-counter (OTC) treatments correctly.
• Don’t scratch. If you can’t tolerate the itching, apply a cold compress to the area or take a lukewarm bath to find some immediate relief.
• Switch tissue. Use moistened or extra soft unbleached, unscented toilet paper or unscented flushable bathroom wipes.
• Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing. Avoid wearing clothes that trap moisture such pantyhose and other tight-fitting garments.
• Avoid irritants such as bubble baths and genital deodorants, beverages or foods that you know irritate your anal area.
Should the itching persist, become too bothersome, or be accompanied by other symptoms, it would be best to see your colorectal specialist and discuss your problem with him.