Symptoms A-Z

What Causes Anal Itching? 5 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.

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Itchy Anus? Your Symptoms Explained

No one likes to talk about it. But when it happens, you can't ignore it. Anal itching, also known as pruritus ani, never strikes at a convenient time. Sometimes, it's just a normal itch. But if you find yourself reaching to scratch on a regular basis, there could be a more serious cause to consider and treat.

Common characteristics of anal itching

If you're experiencing anal itching, it can likely be described by:

  • Itching around the anus
  • Burning
  • Pain from traumatized skin
  • Soreness

How is anal itching diagnosed?

If you can't determine the cause of yours or it occurs more often than you would like it to, you'll need to schedule an appointment with your doctor. They'll ask you a few questions, such as your anal itching symptoms and personal habits. An examination will also take place.

Your doctor may order a test or two to determine if there's an infection or a presence of parasites. If they still can't find a cause, you may need to see a dermatologist or proctologist.

In some cases, the cause of the anal itching is never diagnosed. Instead, different treatment plans are explored until a solution is found. But don't lose hope yet. Start by exploring your anal itching symptoms and doing your best to determine the cause of your persistent anal itching.

Why Does My Anus Itch?

There are almost 100 different causes for anal itching.

Skin conditions

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 [1].
  • Hygiene: If you wash too much, you could be drying out the skin, leading to itching. If you're not washing enough, fecal buildup can also cause itching.

Infection

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 [2].
  • Sexually transmitted: Certain sexually transmitted infections and diseases can lead to anal itching. Genital warts is one [3].

Conditions

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 [4].
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome: The causes of inflammatory bowel syndrome and anal itching are sometimes the same.

Diet

Certain dietary habits may result in anal itching.

  • Irritants: Certain foods, like dairy products, spicy foods, and nuts, can irritate skin during bowel movements, leading to itching as the skin heals.
  • Eating habits: Poor eating habits can lead to constipation. Hemorrhoids can develop as a result with itching being one of the main associated symptoms [5].

With so many potential causes, getting to the "bottom" of your anal itching symptoms might take the assistance of a doctor and a few medical tests.

7 Possible Anal Itching Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced anal itching. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Hemorrhoids

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.

Rarity: Common

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

Urgency: Self-treatment

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.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: butt itch, butt redness, scabbed area of the butt

Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the butt: butt redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

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Pinworm infection

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.

Rarity: Rare

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

Dermatofibroma

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 infection

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...

Anal cancer

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.

Rarity: Rare

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 combinations of 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 [9].
  • Ointments: You can apply thin layers of zinc oxide ointments [10] to keep the skin dry and protected. If you're suffering from hemorrhoids, coconut oil is a natural topical that can speed up healing.

With so many potential anal itching causes, the symptom is common. But this doesn't mean you have to live with it. Finding a treatment that keeps the itch at bay is possible.

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. Liquid stool or incontinence that stays on the skin of the anus can cause itching. Hemorrhoids, as they heal after a bowel movement, can also cause itching. Anal fissures [6] that are partially healed can itch, and pinworms, a parasite affecting children from consumption of unsanitary food, can all cause itchiness.

Why is my anus itchy and burning?

Itchiness and burning is typical of an external hemorrhoid and an anal fissure. In both of these conditions, an injury to the tissue around the anus can cause burning as one defecates and then itching after the area is cleaned. Profuse diarrhea can also irritate and create microabrasions in the anus. Burning and itching may also be a sign of a sexually transmitted illness. There are many other causes; if the itching and burning continues, 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 impacted stool overstretched the anus. It may cause blood on the stool, in the toilet bowl, or on the toilet paper. There are many other causes of itchiness and bleeding of the anus, and if you are experiencing anal (or rectal) bleeding with no known cause, you should seek medical evaluation.

Can eczema cause an itchy anus?

Yes, atopic dermatitis or eczema can cause skin thickening and scratched raised bumps around the anus as well as itchiness of the anus. It is most common in children 5 to 7 years of age, and usually occurs in the flexing areas of the elbows and knees but can also occur in the gluteal region around the anus [7].

Does my anus itch because of an infection?

Yes, it is possible for both a sexually transmitted disease [8] 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 evaluation.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Anal Itching

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • 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?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your anal itching

Anal Itching Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced anal itching have also experienced:

  • 16% Vaginal Itch Or Burning
  • 7% Vaginal Discharge
  • 4% Rectal Pain

People who have experienced anal itching were most often matched with:

  • 33% Hemorrhoids
  • 33% Chronic Or Recurrent Hemorrhoids
  • 33% Allergic Contact Dermatitis Of The Butt

People who have experienced anal itching had symptoms persist for:

  • 32% Less than a day
  • 28% Over a month
  • 20% Less than a week

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Anal Itching Symptom Checker

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References

  1. Dermatitis. Wikipedia. Updated Sept, 2018. Wikipedia Link
  2. Pinworms. National Library of Medicine: MedLinePlus. Published March 6, 2018. MedLinePlus Link
  3. Genital Warts. Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood Link
  4. Candidiasis. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published August 7, 2017. CDC Link
  5. Hemorrhoids and What To Do About Them. Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. Published July 16, 2018. Harvard Health Link
  6. Anal Fissure. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. ASCRS
  7. Starr O. Atopic Eczema. Patient. Published April 18, 2018. Patient Link.
  8. Samuel P. STD Symptoms. STD. Published August, 2017. STD-gov Link
  9. Vorvick LJ, Zieve D, Conaway B, et al. Anal Itching - Self-Care. National Library of Medicine: MedLinePlus. Published May 14, 2017. MedLinePlus Link
  10. Zinc Oxide Topical. Drugs.com. Published April 19, 2017. Drugs.com Link

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.