Anal Itching

An Irresistible Urge to Scratch

What is anal itching?

Anal itching, or pruritus ani, is a common condition. It produces an irresistible urge to scratch. The itching may be most bothersome at night or after bowel movements.

A common cause of anal itching is excessive cleaning of the anal area. Moisture around the anus from excessive sweating or from moist, sticky stools, is another possible cause.

Also, drinking certain beverages, including beer, milk, citrus fruit juices, or drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea, cola), can cause irritation for some people. In addition, certain foods may be a problem. They include chocolate, fruits, tomatoes, nuts and popcorn.

Other, rare, causes of anal itching may include pinworms, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, homorrhoids, anal fissures and infections, and allergies.

Occasionally, cleanliness is a factor, too. However, once a person develops this itching, they tend to wash the area thoroughly with soap and a washcloth. Unfortunately, this almost always makes the problem worse.

What is the treatment for anal itching?

First, avoid further trauma to the area. Don’t use soap of any kind. Don’t scrub the anal area with anything – including toilet paper. After bowel movements, use either wet toilet paper, baby wipes or a wet washcloth to blot – not rub – the area clean. Also, try to avoid scratching the itchy area – it only makes matters worse.

Second, avoid moisture in the anal area. Try cornstarch powder to keep the area dry, or a 4×4 gauze pad. Do not use medicated, perfumed or deodorant powders.

Third, use only the medications prescribed by us – and use them only as directed. Apply the medications sparingly and avoid rubbing.

Fourth, avoid excess fluids and the foods mentioned above. In most cases, a maximum of six glasses of fluid a day is sufficient.

Following the above four steps, most people feel some relief from itching within a week. A complete cure usually takes 4-6 weeks, and a follow-up appointment is recommended to prevent a recurrence.