Pruritus ani is itching in and around the anus. Anal itching is a common problem. It may be mild or severe.
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Anal itching can be caused by many things. They may be:
- Skin problems, such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis
- Certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, or liver disease
- Infections, such as:
- Skin infections from strep bacteria
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Hemorrhoids , anal fissures , anal fistula , proctitis, or skin tags
- Certain foods, such as:
- Tea, coffee, colas
- Chili peppers
- Too much moisture around the anus
- Soaps, scents, and lotions that irritate
- Certain medicines
Things that raise the risk of anal itching are:
- Any of the causes listed above
- Cleaning the area too much or not enough
- Leaking stool
Symptoms are itching and burning in and around the anus. They may go away soon or last a long time.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. The doctor will look for a cause.
The goal of treatment is ease symptoms. Underlying causes will be treated, if known.
Treatment options may be:
- Self-care, such as:
- Not using irritating products
- Using sitz baths and gentle cleaning
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing
- Over the counter or prescription medicines, such as:
- Cortisone creams or ointments—to reduce itching and protect the area
- Zinc oxide ointment—to protect the area
- Capsaicin cream—to reduce itching
- Medicines to treat any underlying conditions
The risk of anal itching may be lowered by:
- Not using products that irritate
- Keeping the area clean and dry
American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians https://familydoctor.org
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology https://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Dermatology Association https://dermatology.ca
Ansari P. Pruritus ani. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2016;29(1):38-42.
Pruritus ani. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pruritus-ani. Accessed February 19, 2021.
Pruritus ani expanded version. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/pruritis-ani-expanded-version. Accessed February 19, 2021.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary Beth Seymour, RN
- Review Date: 01/2021
- Update Date: 02/19/2021