Pruritus ani is an intense itching in and around the anus. This can cause you to feel the need to scratch. Anal itching is a common problem that many people experience at one point or another.
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Pruritus ani can be caused by many things, including: Infections (such as pinworms, fungus, streptococcal skin infections, sexually transmitted diseases)Skin disorders (such as contact dermatitis, psoriasis)Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fistula in ano, proctitis, or skin tagsCertain foods, such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, peanuts, tomatoesToo much moisture around rectumCertain medications, such as laxativesCertain diseases, such as diabetes or liver disease
The irritation in and around your anus can be a temporary condition or it may continue to bother you. Pruritus ani produces itching, soreness, and burning.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor will try to determine the cause of your condition.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Ideally, the cause of the problem will be identified and treated. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat an infection. Treatment for the itching and irritation may include:
Gently cleanse the area with water when bathingTake a sitz bathDry thoroughlyUse cotton, gauze, or cornstarch to absorb moistureDon’t scratchUse unbleached, unscented toilet paperWear loose cotton clothing and underwearAvoid irritants (such as bubble baths, certain foods)
Over-the-counter or prescription cream or ointment containing hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids to reduce itching and provide protectionZinc oxide ointment—to provide protectionTopical capsaicin—to reduce itchingCertain medicines to treat infection if this is thought to be the cause of your itching
Avoid tight-fitting, synthetic clothingTry to keep the area clean and dryUse of barrier ointmentsAvoid scratching at the areaAvoid using perfumes, dyes, and any other irritants on the areaEat a healthy dietExercise regularlyAvoid certain medications (such as narcotics, laxatives)
Pruritus ani. American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons website. Available at:
http://www.fascrs.org/patients/conditions/pruritus_ani/. Updated October 2012. Accessed December 4, 2012.
Pruritus ani. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated June 13, 2012. Accessed December 4, 2012.
Siddiqi S, Vijay V, et al. Pruritus ani.
Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2008 September; 90(6): 457–463.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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