Anal itching (pruritus ani) is due to irritation of the skin around the anus accompanied by a desire to scratch. The intensity of itching increases with moisture, pressure, and sitting. At its most intense, anal itching causes intolerable discomfort described as burning and soreness. Scratching only makes the discomfort worse. Treatment of anal itching is to shower gently without directly rubbing or irritating the skin and to clean and pat dry the anus thoroughly. Use of moist pads rather than toilet paper after bowel movements can be helpful. Local application of cortisone cream may also reduce inflammation and itching, though prolonged use of cortisone may be damaging to the skin. If anal itching is prolonged, a physician should be consulted and a search made for the cause.
Causes of anal itching include, but are not limited to, insufficient cleaning, ingesting spicy foods, diarrhea, anal tear, fungal infection, hemorrhoids, pinworms, anal abrasion, anal leakage, incontinence, and weeping.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Hemorrhoids Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ of Piles
Does everyone have hemorrhoids? Test your knowledge of this and many other facts about Hemorrhoids....
How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids: Types, Causes, and Treatments
Learn how to get rid of hemorrhoids, the difference between internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids, what causes...
Picture of Anus
The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body. See a picture of Anus and learn more about the health topic....
STD Diagnosis, Images, Symptoms, Treatment
Learn about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including symptoms, signs, diagnosis, and treatment options. Get more...
Causes of Anal Itching
Anal cancer, cancer located at the end of the large intestine, has symptoms that include anal or rectal bleeding, anal pain or...
An anal fissure is a small tear or cut in the skin lining of the anus. Pain and/or rectal bleeding during bowel movements are...
A diaper rash is a skin irritation that develops in the diaper-covered region. Most diaper rashes are caused by bacterial or...
Hemorrhoids (Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments)
Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Causes include pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, low-fiber diet, and...
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection...
Lichen planus is a common skin disease that features small, itchy pink or purple spots on the arms or legs. the abnormal areas on...
Pinworms (Infection in Children and Adults, Enterobiasis)
Pinworm infection is an intestinal infection caused by a pinworm, seatworm, or threadworm. Female pinworms leave the intestine...
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales....
Pubic Lice (Crabs)
Pubic lice (crabs) are parasitic insects found in the genital area, and are primarily spread through sexual contact. Symptoms of...
A skin tag is a small benign growth of skin that projects from the surrounding skin. Skin tags can vary in appearance (smooth,...
STDs in Men
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria,...
Yeast Infection (in Women and Men)
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection...
Other Causes of Anal Itching
- Anal Papillae (Abnormal Local Growth of Anal Skin)
- Spicy Foods (Salsas, Peppers, Etc.)
- Yeast Infection (Candida) in the Crease of the Buttocks
Examples of Medications for Anal Itching
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter