Facts on Anal Itching
- Anal itching (and perianal itching) occurs around and near the anus, which is the opening for the bowels.
- Anal itching occurs more often in men, and, most of the time, no cause can be identified.
- Factors that put people most at risk for anal itching are
- Treatment for anal itching includes home remedies and some medications.
- Depending on the cause anal itching can be prevented by changing toilet tissue, wearing loose underwear and avoiding known food irritants.
What Causes Anal Itching?
When a cause can be found, the itching is usually due to irritation of the skin around the anus.
Some of the most common irritants include the following:
- Perfumes, chemicals, or dye on toilet paper can cause an allergic reaction.
- Moisture from sweat or diarrhea may cause itching. If the anal skin stays wet, the skin begins to break down.
- Some foods irritate the anus when they are expelled during a bowel movement. The most common culprits are
- Infections such as pinworms, yeast, and genital warts can cause itching.
- Hemorrhoids, which cause painful swelling of blood vessels in the anal area, can cause itching.
- Cancer, in rare instances, may be a cause of anal itching.
What Are the Symptoms of Anal Itching?
- The most common symptom is itching especially at night and after a bowel movement.
- There may be a rash in the anal area with skin breakdown or a weeping discharge.
When Should I Go to the Doctor for Anal Itching?
- If the anal itching is associated with any type of rash, lump, discharge, bleeding, or fever, call your doctor. You may need prescription medicine to make the problem go away.
- If small children are having trouble sleeping at night because of intense itching, this could be a sign of pinworms and will require medical attention.
- It would be extremely rare that you would need to go to the hospital's emergency department for anal itching. Contact your doctor if you think you need medical help.
How Is Anal Itching Diagnosed?
Most cases of anal itching can be diagnosed by taking a history and doing a physical exam. If there appears to be an infection, your doctor may want to do cultures to determine what type of germ is causing the problem.
What Are Home Remedies for Anal Itching?
Try not to irritate the skin even more by scrubbing the area with soap. This will only cause more irritation and itching. Gentle cleaning with water helps the area heal.
Other home therapies include the following:
- Change to a plain, soft, unscented toilet paper.
- If toilet paper feels too abrasive, try cleaning with unscented baby wipes or cotton moistened with mineral oil. Dry with cotton afterward to remove any moisture. Many times, baby wipes can exacerbate anal itching if used long-term.
- Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear that allows sweat to evaporate. Do not wear panty hose.
- Over-the-counter medicines such as creams containing hydrocortisone or zinc oxide can provide some relief; however, apply sparingly and notify your health care practitioner prior to using them.
- Avoid food irritants and eat a high-fiber diet.
What Are the Medications for Anal Itching?
Most causes of anal itching can be readily treated.
- Hydrocortisone cream (1%) applied locally for no more than two weeks (to avoid skin damage).
- Pinworms and bacterial infections are treated with prescription anti-parasitic pills.
- Yeast infections and many rashes improve with creams.
- Skin lesions such as warts or hemorrhoids are removed with minor surgical procedures.
How Do You Prevent Anal Itching?
Some simple strategies can help you prevent anal itching:
- Avoid known food irritants.
- Do not wear tight-fitting underwear.
- Do not use scented or printed toilet paper.
- Dry the anal area after excessive sweating.
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