Anal itching is an itching of the skin around your anus—the exit end of the rectum. The itch is usually strong and intense enough that you will have the strong urge to scratch it. The problem is that oftentimes, when you do scratch it, the intensity of the itching and the amount of inflammation increase from the direct contact of scratching as well as the presence of moisture. Naturally, the cycle continues. In severe cases, anal itching is described as being intolerably uncomfortable and is accompanied by a burning feeling and soreness. Needless to say, anal itching can lead to very embarrassing and uncomfortable situations.
Most anal itching can be cured at home with over-the-counter medications. When anal itching is accompanied by other symptoms such as lesions or fever, it is advised that you go to your doctor immediately.
Causes of Anal Itching
There are times that anal itching can be the symptom of something more serious, although these are relatively rare. The most common causes of anal itching include:
- Food irritants. A common cause of itching are chemicals found in the food you eat, especially spices and hot sauces. When these foods exit your anus and pass through the colon, the chemicals irritate the skin. Also, eating dairy products or caffeinated drinks and beverages may cause some people to experience diarrhea and anal itching.
- Excessive washing. Washing or wiping in excess can irritate your anus, leading to anal itching. It gets worse when you use harsh materials such as rough toilet paper or soaps with strong chemicals — these may hasten the irritation, especially if you have particularly sensitive skin. On the other hand, failure to wash away soap can lead to anal irritation.
- Excessive moisture. Moisture around your anus can contribute to anal itching. The moisture can come from sweating or from moist stools that are not properly wiped away. Frequent diarrhea or fecal incontinence can also lead to the problem.
- Dry skin. As you grow older, the skin in and around your anus is more susceptible to dryness. Dry skin can cause persistent, intense itching.
- Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids is a condition where the veins located just under the membranes lining your anus and the lowest part of your rectum become engorged. They are often caused by too much straining during bowel movement, like what happens when you’re constipated. One of hemorrhoids’ symptoms is anal itching.
- Skin disorders. Skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis can involve and irritate the area around your anus, leading to anal itching.
- Infections. Infections, especially sexually transmitted diseases, can involve the anus and cause anal itching. Parasite infections can also cause itching, especially pinworms in children.
- Anal tumors. Tumors in or around the anus may cause persistent anal itching.
Getting Rid of Anal Itching
In order to get rid of anal itching, you may try the following tips:
- Wash and cleanse gently. Regularly wash the anal area. Do it every morning and night, and every after bowel movement; however, when you do, don’t scrub or use soap. Instead, use a washcloth or any unscented tissue or baby wipes to clean the whole area.
- Dry the area thoroughly. Pat the anal area dry with a clean towel or tissue right after cleansing. Be sure that it’s dry as you don’t want to have any moisture buildup in there. You can also use a hair dryer, although you should make sure you use a comfortable setting. Once it’s dry, place a piece of cotton gauze in the area to keep it dry. Replace the gauze as often as necessary. You can also use nonmedicated talcum to keep it dry.
- Don’t scratch the area. Scratching will only make the condition worse. It can irritate your skin more and worsen the inflammation, if you have one. If the itching becomes too much, then apply a cold compress on the area. A lukewarm bath can also help in giving relief. Keep yourself occupied so you will be distracted from scratching yourself.
- Use over-the-counter medications properly. Over-the-counter creams can provide relief from itching; however, use them as instructed by your doctor, and do so sparingly. For some, medications may worsen the problem and may mask the underlying condition.
- Wear loose clothing and cotton underwear. Cotton underwear can help absorb moisture and keep you dry. Avoid wearing tight-fitting undergarments and those made of synthetic materials. They can trap in moisture and sweat, exacerbating your itching problem.
While anal itching can be embarrassing, you don’t need to be afraid to talk to your doctor. With proper self-care treatments and measures, most people can get complete relief from anal itching.
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