What Causes Anal Itching? Causes & Treatments
An itchy anus, also known as pruritus ani, is a common condition that has an array of causes. The most common causes for anus itching include hemorrhoids, dermatitis , or irritation from hygienic products. Read below for more information on causes, related symptoms, and treatment options for rectal itching.
Itchy anus? your symptoms explained
Anal itching is probably not a common topic of conversation; however, this symptom can be bothersome and impossible to ignore. Anal itching, also known as pruritus ani, can sometimes be just a normal itch. If you're experiencing itchiness on a regular basis, there could be a more serious cause to consider.
Common characteristics of anal itching
If you're experiencing anal itching, it can likely be described by:
- Itching around the anus
- Pain from traumatized skin
How is anal itching diagnosed?
If your symptoms persist or you can't pinpoint a cause, you need to schedule an appointment with your physician. He or she will ask you a few questions and likely examine the area.
Your physician may order a test to determine if an infection or a parasite is present. If a cause still cannot be determined, you may need to see a dermatologist or proctologist. In some cases, the cause of anal itching is never diagnosed. Instead, different treatment plans are explored until a solution is found.
7 anal itching causes
Your anal itching may be the result of a certain skin condition, such as the following.
- Dermatitis: There are several skin conditions that can cause itchy skin anywhere on the body, including the anus. If you've already been diagnosed with dermatitis or psoriasis, this is the most probable cause of your itching.
- Hygiene: If you wash too much, you could be drying out the skin, leading to itching. If you're not washing enough, stool buildup can also cause itching.
Anal itching may be due to an infection, such as the following.
- Parasitic: There are a variety of parasitic infections that can cause anal itching symptoms, such as pinworms, a common intestinal parasite.
- Sexually transmitted: Certain sexually transmitted infections and diseases can lead to anal itching. Genital warts are one.
Certain conditions can result in anal itching.
- Diabetes: Candidiasis is linked to diabetes, which can cause itching. Patients with diabetes can also experience anal itching without candidiasis.
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome: The causes of inflammatory bowel syndrome and anal itching are sometimes the same.
Certain dietary habits may result in anal itching.
- Irritants: Certain foods, like dairy products, spicy foods, and nuts, can irritate skin during bowel movements. Itching may occur as the skin heals.
- Eating habits: Poor eating habits can lead to constipation. Hemorrhoids can develop as a result of itching.
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum that can cause pain, itching, and rectal bleeding. Hemorrhoids may be seen or felt on the outside of the anus (external) or may be hidden from view inside of the rectum.
Hemorrhoids are common occurring in 10 million Am..
Chronic or recurrent hemorrhoids
Chronic, or recurrent, hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and rectum that never really resolve and may be symptomatic more or less constantly.
Hemorrhoids are caused by anything that puts pressure on the anus from the inside, such as straining during bowel movements; constipation; pregnancy; or anal intercourse.
Most susceptible are pregnant women and older people, though anyone can be affected.
Symptoms include a small amount of bleeding during or after a bowel movement, as well as discomfort, itching, or swelling around the anus.
A medical provider can suggest treatment to ease the symptoms of chronic hemorrhoids, as well as make certain of the diagnosis since other, more serious conditions can have symptoms similar to hemorrhoids.
Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination.
Treatment most often involves simple lifestyle changes such as drinking more water; adding fiber-rich foods to the diet; using fiber supplements and stool softeners; not delaying, or straining, to pass a bowel movement; and using topical medications. Surgical procedures to remove the hemorrhoid can be used in some cases.
Top Symptoms: rectal bleeding, rectal pain, pain when passing stools, anal itching, painless rectal bleeding
Symptoms that never occur with chronic or recurrent hemorrhoids: unintentional weight loss
Allergic contact dermatitis of the butt
Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed following physical contact with an allergen. Common products known to cause allergic dermatitis include plants, metals, soap, fragrance, and cosmetics.
Top Symptoms: butt itch, butt redness, scabbed area of the butt
Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the butt: butt redness
Pinworm infection, also known as Enterobiasis, is the most common worm infection in the United States. It can be passed from one person to another if contaminated fecal matter is ingested. The most common symptom of this infection is itching around the anus, especially at night.
Top Symptoms: anal itching, constant but weak urination stream
Symptoms that never occur with pinworm infection: constant but weak urination stream
Urgency: Primary care doctor
A dermatofibroma is a common skin growth that usually appears on the lower legs, but may appear anywhere on the body. These growths are benign (noncancerous). Dermatofibromas are most common in adults and are rarely found in children.
Symptoms include a hard, raised growth that is red, pink, ..
Yeast infections are due to alterations in the balance of microscopic organisms in the vulvar and vaginal regions. The term "yeast infection" is most commonly used to describe symptoms caused by the fungus Candida albicans.
Symptoms include itching of the vaginal and vulva, burning, redness..
Most anal cancers are linked to the human papilloma virus, or HPV. However, many people carry HPV and have no symptoms or illness of any kind.
Most susceptible are men who have sexual contact with men; women who have had cervical cancer; and anyone who has engaged in anal intercourse, had anal warts, or is HIV positive. Smoking and lowered immunity are also factors.
Symptoms include minor anal bleeding and itching, which may be attributed to hemorrhoids; pain or fullness in the anal region; and abnormal anal discharge.
It is important to see a medical provider about these symptoms so that if needed, treatment can begin as soon as possible.
Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; anal swab; and biopsy. CT scan, ultrasound, or endoscopy of the anus may also be done.
Treatment involves some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy depending on the needs of each individual patient.
Top Symptoms: abdominal pain (stomach ache), stool changes, constipation, diarrhea, pain when passing stools
Urgency: Primary care doctor
At-home and professional treatment for anal itching
For most people, anal itching is nothing more than an embarrassing nuisance. But for those who have a persistent case, medical intervention may be necessary.
When to see a doctor for anal itching
Schedule an appointment sooner than later if you're experiencing any of the following along with anal itching:
- Anal bleeding
- Signs of infection or severe pain
- Persistent itching with no obvious cause
- Intense swelling or dark bruising around the area
At-home treatments for anal itching
There are several treatments and preventative measures you can try at home to relieve anal itching.
- Thorough cleansing: After bowel movements, use water to cleanse the area instead of toilet paper, which can further irritate broken skin. Make sure to dry thoroughly using a clean towel.
- Don't scratch: Scratching can make the anal itching worse as it irritates the skin. If you need relief, press a cold compress to the area.
- Wear cotton: Wearing cotton undergarments and loose clothing will help to keep the area dry and avoid irritation.
- Ointments: You can apply thin layers of zinc oxide ointments to keep the skin dry and protected. If you're suffering from hemorrhoids, coconut oil is a natural topical that can speed up healing.
FAQs about anal itching
Here are some frequently asked questions about anal itching.
Why does my anus itch after a bowel movement?
Anal itching can be caused by many things, such as stool or urine that remains on the skin after using the restroom. Hemorrhoids may cause itching as they heal after a bowel movement. Partially healed anal fissures and pinworms, a parasite affecting children from consumption of unsanitary food, can also cause itchiness.
Why is my anus itchy and burning?
Itchiness and burning are common symptoms of external hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Microabrasions can occur with excessive diarrhea. Itchiness and burning may also be a sign of a sexually transmitted illness. There are many other causes; if the itching and burning continue, seek medical evaluation.
Why is my anus itchy and bleeding?
An itchy and bleeding anus may be a sign of an anal fissure. This is a small tear in the skin of the anus when a hard stool overstretches the anus. It may cause blood on the stool, in the toilet bowl, or on the toilet paper. If you are experiencing anal (or rectal) bleeding with no known cause, you should seek medical attention.
Can eczema cause an itchy anus?
Yes, atopic dermatitis or eczema can cause skin thickening and raised bumps around the anus as well as itching. It is most common in children 5 to 7 years of age and usually occurs in the flexing areas of the elbows and knees. It can also occur in the gluteal region around the anus.
Does my anus itch because of an infection?
Yes, it is possible for both a sexually transmitted disease and a parasite to cause itchiness around the anus. Parasites are much more common among young children and sexually transmitted diseases are almost exclusively found in adults. If you suspect either cause of infection, you should seek medical attention.
Questions your doctor may ask about anal itching
- Have you had any changes in your weight?
- Do you have a rash?
- Do you have a history of constipation?
- Do your symptoms worsen when sitting?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
Rhonda is currently a writer for a variety of online publications, specializing in health and wellness. She also served as an English teacher and professor of both undergraduate and graduate students for 22 years at various schools, including the University of South Carolina, Indiana University, and Sullivan University. She received her M.A. in English Language and Literature from Southern Illinois University and her PhD in American Literature from the University of South Carolina.
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- Anal Fissure. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. ASCRS
- Starr O. Atopic Eczema. Patient. Published April 18, 2018. Patient Link.
- Samuel P. STD Symptoms. STD. Published August, 2017. STD-gov Link
- Vorvick LJ, Zieve D, Conaway B, et al. Anal Itching - Self-Care. National Library of Medicine: MedLinePlus. Published May 14, 2017. MedLinePlus Link
- Zinc Oxide Topical. Drugs.com. Published April 19, 2017. Drugs.com Link