What STDs Affect Your Anus? 6 STDs That Cause Anal Itching

Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2022
What STDs Affect Your Anus
Several STDs can cause anal itching, pain, and burning

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can affect the anus and cause symptoms such as anal itching, pain, and burning include:

6 STDs that can affect your anus

1. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The disease can be transmitted through any sexual route including anal sex. Despite being a common STD, many people with gonorrhea may not exhibit any symptoms. 

Gonorrhea can spread from your genitals to your anus when you wipe after having a bowel movement. Anal infection can cause itching, anal discharge, and pain when passing stools. Other symptoms may differ between men and women.

  • Symptoms in women may include pain or burning during urination, bleeding between periods: and abnormal (yellow or bloody) vaginal discharge.
  • Symptoms in men may include white, yellowish, or green penile discharge, pain or swelling in the testes, and pain or burning when urinating.

2. Anal herpes

Anal herpes can be caused by either of the two main herpes simplex viruses (HSVs)—herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2. Herpes transmission generally occurs when the infected partner does not have visible lesions. HSV can affect any part of the body but is most commonly seen on the genitals, mouth, or anus. 

Anal herpes lesions mainly appear as one or more fluid-filled rashes (vesicles) or small blisters. The rashes typically occur on or around the genitals, anus, or mouth and can lead to anal pain, discharge, itching, and change in bowel habits.

3. Anal warts

Also called condyloma acuminata, anal warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV infection is the most common STI in the U.S., although many infected people are asymptomatic. It can spread through any sexual contact: anal, vaginal, or oral. 

Anal warts are small, typically painless growths in the genital and anal areas. They may cause symptoms such as:

  • Itching
  • Discharge
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling or lumps in the anal or genital region

4. Syphilis

Syphilis can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Signs and symptoms of the disease may vary depending on its stage (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary stages):

  • Primary syphilis: Characterized by a painless sore on the original site of infection (genitals, anus, rectum, or in or around the mouth)
  • Secondary syphilis: Symptoms include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Latent syphilis: No signs and symptoms in this stage
  • Tertiary syphilis: Most advanced stage with multiple complications related to the heart, brain, and other organs

5. Chlamydia

Chlamydia can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, or anal sex and can affect the vagina, penis, cervix, urethra, anus, eyes, ir throat. It can cause anal pain, discharge, irritation, and bleeding. Other symptoms may include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, painful urination, swollen testicles, and pain during intercourse.

6. Pubic lice (crabs)

Pubic lice or crabs are different from head or body lice and can cause considerable pain and irritation in the genital and anal areas. Pubic lice can also spread to other body sites such as the legs, armpits, eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair. 

What is anal itching?

Anal itching or pruritus ani is a skin condition that presents as intense itching in your anal area. It is divided into two main categories:

  • Primary pruritus ani: 
    • The most common type of anal itching
    • Also called idiopathic pruritus ani, as there is no obvious cause for this condition
  • Secondary pruritus ani
    • Less common and occurs due to an underlying cause such as:
      • Sexually transmitted diseases
      • Yeast infections
      • Fecal incontinence (involuntary passage or leakage of stools)
      • Spicy foods
      • Chronic diarrhea
      • Hemorrhoids (swollen rectal veins)
      • Anal fissures (tears in the anal skin)
      • Anal fistula due to conditions such as Crohn’s disease
      • Pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis) infestation
      • Skin conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis
      • Use of irritants such as harsh deodorants, wipes, or soaps
      • Tumors 

How is anal itching treated?

Treatment for anal itching primarily depends on the underlying cause.

Symptomatic treatment

Your doctor may prescribe medications or suggest home remedies to manage intense itching and the resultant discomfort or soreness in the anal area:

  • Over-the-counter topical medications such as hydrocortisone or capsaicin creams, gels, and ointments
  • Topical lidocaine or benzocaine to relieve pain and itching
  • Topical ointments or creams with aluminum hydroxide gel, petrolatum, and glycerin
  • Antihistamines to prevent itching
  • Oatmeal baths to soothe the area
  • Avoid using harsh soaps, wipes, or deodorants in the anal area
  • Pat dry the anal area gently with a soft tissue after using the restroom
  • Maintain proper hygiene and wear comfortable cotton underwear to avoid further irritation
  • Avoid scratching the area, as it can cause infection besides worsening symptoms

Targeted treatment

Treatment may be recommended to target the underlying cause of anal itching. 

  • Prescription drugs to treat the specific infection (bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic)
  • A high-fiber diet and plenty of fluids to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids
  • Medicated shampoos to treat pubic lice
  • Surgery in the case of anal fissures or severe hemorrhoids


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When should you contact your doctor about anal itching?

Infrequent and mild anal itching may not be a cause for concern. However, you should contact your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Intense and persistent itching
  • Abnormal vaginal, urethral, or anal discharge
  • Rash or sore in the anal or genital area
  • Lump 
  • Fever
  • Bleeding
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Swelling in the testicles

You should also contact your doctor if you think you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or if your symptoms do not go away with home treatments.

Medically Reviewed on 10/28/2022
Image Source: iStock image