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Rectal Problems (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Home treatment for rectal itching depends on the cause of the itching.

Treat causes of anal itching

Try these home treatment measures for the following causes of anal itching:

  • Poor hygiene. Clean the area gently with water-moistened cotton balls, a warm washcloth, or premoistened towelettes, such as Tucks or "baby wipes." A mild ointment, such as A+D Ointment or Desitin, can be applied lightly to help soothe the skin and protect it against further irritation.
  • Scented or colored toilet paper or scented soaps.
    • Buy white, unscented toilet paper.
    • Do not use scented soaps, which can irritate skin.
    • Apply an ointment that contains 1% hydrocortisone. Do not use other steroid creams on this sensitive area of your body, because skin damage can occur. Hydrocortisone cream should not be used for longer than 7 to 10 days without talking with your doctor. Note: Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to. Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area in children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Reactions to topical creams. Apply an ointment that contains 1% hydrocortisone. Do not use other steroid creams on this sensitive area of your body, because skin damage can occur. Hydrocortisone cream should not be used for longer than 7 to 10 days without talking with your doctor. Do not use creams or ointments, such as Benadryl cream, that contain antihistamines.
  • Excessive sweating. For anal itching caused by excessive sweating, avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear, and wear cotton, rather than synthetic, undergarments. You may use talcum powder to absorb moisture, but do not use cornstarch. Cornstarch may cause a skin infection. Before applying talcum powder, dry your rectal area with a hair dryer set on the low setting.

To control itching

To control itching, try the following:

  • Break the itch-scratch cycle, because further scratching leads to more itching. Take an oral antihistamine at night to help lessen your nighttime itching. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
  • Take a warm sitz bath 3 times each day and after each bowel movement. Following the bath, dry the anus carefully. You may wish to use a hair dryer set on low.
  • Avoid foods that can increase rectal itching, such as coffee, tea, cola, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, and excessive amounts of vitamin C, for a minimum of 2 weeks. Gradually add the items back to your diet, one item at a time, to help determine the cause of the itching.
  • Trim your fingernails short if you find yourself scratching irritated skin at night. Wear cotton gloves or socks on your hands at night to help stop the unconscious scratching that can occur while you sleep.
  • Control your stress. Being under stress and feeling anxious or worried can cause some people to experience skin itching. If you find you are scratching your anal area when you are anxious, try to take relaxation breaks throughout the day, especially before bedtime. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.

For rectal bleeding

When you have rectal bleeding, do not take aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin and other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, can cause bleeding in the digestive tract, which can increase the amount of blood in your stools. These medicines can also make bleeding hemorrhoids bleed more. If you need to use something for pain, try taking acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.

Rectal bleeding can be caused by constipation, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Pain increases or does not improve.
  • The blood in your stool increases, or your stools become red, black, or tarry.
  • Swelling or a lump in or around your anus develops.
  • You develop a fever.
  • Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
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