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.
Related Symptoms & Signs
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
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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 pressure, anal discharge or itching, a change in bowel movements, and/or a lump in the anal region. Treatment for anal cancer may involve radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery and depends upon the stage of the cancer, its location, whether cancer is eradicated after the first treatment, and whether the patient has HIV.Anal cancer is usually curable when found localized. Early detection remains the key to long-term survival as it is in many forms of cancer.
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 common symptoms of anal fissures. Treatment includes increasing liquid intake, using stool softeners, prescription medications, and surgery.
A diaper rash is a skin irritation that develops in the diaper-covered region. Most diaper rashes are caused by bacterial or yeast infections, though some may be caused by contact dermatitis or allergic reactions to the diapers and wipes. Cleansing with water and soft cloths, followed by application of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide and frequent diaper changes is the best treatment for a diaper rash.
Hemorrhoids (Internal and External)
Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in the rectum and anus. Causes include pregnancy, obesity, diarrhea, low-fiber diet, and prolonged sitting on the toilet. Treatment varies depending upon the severity of the hemorrhoids. Some treatment options include over-the-counter creams and suppositories, stool softeners, warm sitz baths, and hemorrhoidectomies.
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching including infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Lichen planus is a common skin disease that features small, itchy pink or purple spots on the arms or legs. The abnormal areas on the skin in lichen planus are typically flat-topped (hence the term planus), itchy, and frequently have a polygonal or angular shape.
malt soup extract
Malt soup extract is used as a short-term treatment to relieve occasional constipation, maintain regularity of bowel movements and relieve anal itching (pruritus ani). Malt soup extract is available over the counter (OTC) as a tablet, powder, or liquid that is taken with plenty of fluids. Malt is used in the preparation of many foods and beverages. Common side effects of malt soup extract include gas (flatulence), excessive bowel activity, diarrhea, and rectal obstruction.
Pinworms in Children and Adults
Pinworm infection is an intestinal infection caused by a pinworm, seatworm, or threadworm. Female pinworms leave the intestine through the ankus and deposit eggs on the skin around the anus while a person is asleep. Pinworm infection is the most common worm infection in the U.S. Symptoms include anal itching or vaginal itching. Pinworm infection is generally spread by inadequate handwashing from infected persons. Treatment is effective after a diagnosis is made with a pinworm test.
Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales. There are several types of psoriasis, including psoriasis vulgaris, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis. Symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis the patient has. Treatment of psoriasis may include creams, lotions, oral medications, injections and infusions of biologics, and light therapy. There is no cure for psoriasis.
A skin tag is a small benign growth of skin that projects from the surrounding skin. Skin tags can vary in appearance (smooth, irregular, flesh colored, dark pigment, raised). Skin tags generally do not cause symptoms unless repeatedly irritated. Treatment for skin tag varies depending on the location on the body.
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Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal pain with urination, vaginal discharge, odor, and itching. Treatment is generally OTC medications. A man can contract a yeast infection from his female sexual partner. Symptoms of a yeast infection in men include penile itching. Treatment is with oral or topical medication.
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