Anal itching: Irritation of the skin at the exit of the rectum, accompanied by the desire to scratch. The intensity of anal itching is increased by moisture, pressure, and abrasion caused by clothing and sitting. It may be caused by irritating chemicals in food (as in spices, hot sauces, and peppers); irritation due to frequent liquid stools, as in diarrhea; diseases, such as diabetes mellitus or HIV infection, that increase the possibility of yeast infections; and psoriasis. Other causes of anal itching include hemorrhoids, anal fissures, abnormal local growth of anal skin (anal papillae), and skin tags. Treatment is directed first toward relieving the burning and soreness, including cleaning and drying the anus thoroughly, avoiding leaving soap in the anal area, showering gently without directly rubbing or irritating the skin, and using moist pads rather than toilet paper to clean the anus after bowel movements. Local application of cortisone cream may help. Also known as pruritus ani.
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Last Editorial Review: 3/19/2012