Anal Itching (cont.)

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Astringents cause coagulation (clumping) of proteins in the cells of the perianal skin or the lining of the anal canal. This action promotes dryness of the skin, which in turn helps relieve burning, itching, and pain.

Examples of astringents include:

  • calamine 5% to 25%
  • zinc oxide 5% to 25% (Calmol 4, Nupercainal, Tronolane)
  • witch hazel 10% to 50% (Fleet Medicated, Tucks, Witch Hazel Hemorrhoidal Pads)


Antiseptics inhibit the growth of bacteria and other organisms. However, it is unclear whether antiseptics are any more effective than soap and water.

Examples of antiseptics include:

  • boric acid
  • phenol
  • benzalkonium chloride
  • cetylpyridinium chloride
  • benzethonium chloride
  • resorcinol


Keratolytics are chemicals that cause the outer layers of skin or other tissues to disintegrate. The rationale for their use is that the disintegration allows medications that are applied to the anus and perianal area to penetrate into the deeper tissues.

The two approved keratolytics used are:

  • aluminum chlorhydroxy allantoinate (alcloxa) 0.2% to 2.0%
  • resorcinol 1% to 3%


Analgesic products, like anesthetic products, relieve pain, itching, and burning by depressing receptors on pain nerves.

Examples of analgesics include:

  • menthol 0.1% to 1.0% (greater than 1.0% is not recommended) (Calmoseptine)
  • camphor 0.1% to 3% (greater than 3% is not recommended)
  • juniper tar 1% to 5%
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/22/2015

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