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Anal itching - self-care

  • Description
    • Anal itching occurs when the skin around your anus becomes irritated. You may feel intense itching around and just inside the anus.

  • Alternative Names
    • Pruritus ani - self-care

  • Causes
    • Anal itching may be caused by:

      • Spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and other irritating foods and beverages
      • Scents or dyes in toilet paper or soap
      • Diarrhea
      • Hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in or around your anus
      • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
      • Taking antibiotics
      • Yeast infections
      • Parasites, such as pinworms, which more commonly occur in children
  • Self-care at Home
    • To treat anal itching at home, you should keep the area as clean and dry as possible.

      • Clean the anus gently after bowel movements, without scrubbing. Use a squeeze bottle of water, unscented baby wipes, a wet washcloth, or wet unscented toilet paper.
      • Avoid soaps with dyes or fragrances.
      • Pat dry with a clean, soft towel or unscented toilet paper. DO NOT rub the area.
      • Try over-the-counter creams, ointments, or gels with hydrocortisone or zinc oxide, made to soothe anal itching. Be sure to follow the directions for use on the package.
      • Wear loose clothing and cotton underwear to help keep the area dry.
      • Try not to scratch the area. This can cause swelling and irritation, and make itching worse.
      • Avoid foods and beverages that can cause loose stools or irritate the skin around the anus. This includes spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
      • Use fiber supplements, if needed, to help you have regular bowel movements.
  • When to Call Your Health Care Provider
    • Call your health care provider if you have:

      • A rash or lump in or around the anus
      • Bleeding or discharge from the anus
      • Fever

      Also, call your provider if self-care does not help within 2 or 3 weeks.

  • References
    • Nasseri YY, Osborne MC. Pruritus ani: diagnosis and treatment. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2013;42:801-813. PMID: 24280401 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24280401.

      Weichert G. Pruritus ani. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 199.