Anal Itching (cont.)

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What are additional symptoms associated with anal itching?

  • The intensity of anal itching and the amount of inflammation increases from the direct trauma of scratching and the presence of moisture.
  • At its most intense, anal itching causes intolerable discomfort that often is described as burning and soreness, especially during and after bowel movements.
  • There also may be small amounts of bleeding.

What is the treatment for anal itching?

Initial treatment of simple itching is directed toward relieving the burning and soreness. It is important to clean and dry the anus thoroughly and avoid leaving soap in the anal area.

  • Cleaning efforts should include gentle showering without direct rubbing or irritation of the skin with either the washcloth or towel.
  • After bowel movements, moist pads (such as baby wipes, flushable moist wipes, and flushable anal cleansing wipes) should be used for cleaning the anus instead of toilet paper.
  • If there is constant moisture present in the anus or stool incontinence, it may be necessary to clean the anus with moist pads between bowel movements.

Many over-the-counter (OTC) products are sold for the treatment of anal itching and are available as ointments, creams, gels, suppositories, foams and pads. These products often contain the same drugs used to treat hemorrhoids. 

  • When used around the anus, ointments, creams, and gels should be applied as a thin covering.
  • When applied to the anal canal, these products should be inserted with a finger using finger cots (latex covers for the fingertips) or a "pile pipe." Pile pipes are most efficient when they have holes on the sides as well as at the end. Pile pipes should be lubricated with ointment prior to insertion.
  • Suppositories or foams do not have advantages over ointments, creams, and gels.

Most products contain more than one type of active ingredient. Almost all contain a protectant in addition to another ingredient. Only examples of brand-name products containing one ingredient in addition to the protectant are discussed in this article.

Local anesthetics

Local anesthetics temporarily relieve pain, burning, and itching by numbing the nerve endings. The use of these products should be limited to the perianal area and lower anal canal. Local anesthetics can cause allergic reactions with burning and itching. Therefore, the application of anesthetics should be discontinued if burning and itching increase.

Examples of local anesthetics include:

  • benzocaine 5% to 20% (Americaine Hemorrhoidal, Lanacane Maximum Strength, Medicone)
  • benzyl alcohol (Itch-X) 5% to 20%
  • dibucaine 0.25% to 1.0% (Nupercainal)
  • dyclonine 0.5% to 1.0%
  • lidocaine (Xylocaine) 2% to 5%
  • pramoxine 1.0% (Fleet Pain-Relief, Procto Foam Non-steroid, Tronothane Hydrochloride)
  • tetracaine 0.5% to 5.0%
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/11/2015