Pruritus ani is an intense itching in and around the anus. This can cause you to feel the need to scratch. Anal itching is a common problem that most people experience at some time.
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Pruritus ani can be caused by many things, including:
- Infections such as pinworms, fungi, streptococcal skin infections, or sexually transmitted diseases
- Skin disorders such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis
- Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal fistula, proctitis, or skin tags
- Certain foods such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, peanuts, tomatoes
- Too much moisture around rectum
- Irritating soaps, scents, and lotions
- Certain medications such as laxatives or topical steroids
- Certain diseases such as diabetes or liver disease
Other factors that may increase your chances of pruritis ani:
- Poor hygeine
- Leaking stool
The irritation in and around your anus can be a temporary condition or it may continue to bother you. Pruritus ani produces itching, soreness, and burning.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, diet, hygeine, and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor will try to determine the cause of your condition.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Ideally, the cause of the problem will be identified and treated. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a bacterial infection. Treatment for the itching and irritation may include:
Making changes can help ease symptoms. Examples include:
- Gently cleaning the area with water when bathing
- Using a sitz bath
- Drying the area thoroughly
- Using cotton, gauze, or cornstarch to absorb moisture
- Avoiding scratching the area
- Using unbleached, unscented toilet paper
- Wearing loose cotton clothing and underwear
- Avoiding irritants such as bubble baths or certain foods
Your doctor may advise one or more of the following:
- Over-the-counter or prescription cream or ointment containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids to reduce itching and provide protection
- Zinc oxide ointment—to provide protection
- Topical capsaicin—to reduce itching
- Certain medications to treat infection if this is thought to be the cause of your itchings
To help reduce your chances of pruritis ani:
- Avoid tight-fitting, synthetic clothing
- Try to keep the area clean and dry, but avoid excessive cleaning
- Use barrier ointments
- Avoid scratching at the area
- Avoid using perfumes, dyes, and any other irritants on the area
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid certain medications such as opioids or laxatives
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Dermatology Association
Ansari P. Pruritus ani. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2016;29(1):38-42.
Pruritus ani. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116635/Pruritus-ani. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed December 18, 2017.
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 December 18, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 12/20/2014