What is Pruritus Ani?
Pruritus Ani, commonly known as anal itching, is quite a common condition. The itching sensation is felt in or around the anus and is often acute in nature and the patient feels a strong urge to scratch the anal region. For this reason, Pruritus Ani can be an uncomfortable and an embarrassing situation. There are many causes for pruritus ani or itching in anus, such as hemorrhoids, skin problems and excessive washing or insufficient washing of the anal region.
If Pruritus Ani persists, then patient should consult with their doctor so that proper treatment and self-care measures are initiated for complete relief from anal itching.
Treatment depends on the cause of the pruritus ani.
What Causes Pruritus Ani or Itching in Anus?
- Self care habits, such as using harsh products which irritate the skin. Excessive washing of the anal region, using too much soap, insufficient washing, using moist wipes, soap or toilet paper containing perfumes and dyes; all these factors can cause Pruritus Ani or itching in anus.
- Sexually transmitted infections or other infections, which involve the anal region, can cause pruritus ani or itching in anus. Persistent anal itching can also be caused by pinworms. There are other parasites, which can also cause anal itching. Yeast infections commonly affect women which can also result in itching in the anal region.
- Certain skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis can also cause anal itching.
- Other medical conditions, such as hemorrhoids, chronic diarrhea, anal tumors and other diseases which affect the complete body, such as diabetes also can cause pruritus ani.
Signs & Symptoms of Pruritus Ani or Itching in Anus
Pruritus Ani or Anal itching can be accompanied with burning, redness and soreness. Depending on the cause of irritation, the itching in anus can be temporary or can be persistent. Most of the times, pruritus ani does not need medical treatment. Patient needs to consult a physician if he/she has the following symptoms along with anal itching:
- If the anal itching is persistent or severe.
- If there is infection in the anal region.
- If there is bleeding from the anal region.
- If the cause of persistent pruritus ani is not clear.
Investigations to Diagnose Pruritus Ani or Itching in Anus
- Diagnosis of the cause of the pruritus ani or itching in anus can be made from the questions, which the doctor will ask regarding the medical history, symptoms and personal habits.
- A test for pinworms is done if they are suspected.
- A digital rectal exam may also be conducted.
- If the cause of anal itching is still not clear, then the patient may be referred to a dermatologist (skin specialist) or a proctologist, who is a doctor specializing in treating anal and rectal problems.
- Other tests, such as colonoscopy or proctoscopy can be done to better view the digestive tract.
- It is also possible that the cause of pruritus ani is not identified.
Treatment for Pruritus Ani or Itching in Anus
Treatment of pruritus ani depends on its cause.
- Self-care measures, such as cleaning the anal region better, if not cleaning it properly; or cutting down on the excessive washing helps in reducing the anal itching.
- Over the counter anti-itch cream can be used to get relief from Pruritis Ani or anal itching.
- If the patient is suffering from hemorrhoids or infection, then they should be treated.
- Oral antihistamines can be prescribed if the symptoms of Pruritis Ani or anal itching worsen during the night.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Pruritus Ani or Itching in Anus
There are some simple home remedies that can be undertaken to prevent anal itching such as:
- After having bowel movements, the anal region should be cleaned gently using just plain water or a mild soap. Moist cotton balls can also be used. Scrubbing the anal region should be avoided as it can further irritate the skin.
- After cleaning the anal region, it should be dried completely by patting the area dry with using a toilet paper or a towel.
- A hair dryer can also be used with the setting on the low to dry the anal region.
- Un-medicated talcum powder can also be used to keep the anal region dry.
- Cornstarch powder should be avoided, as it promotes bacterial growth.
- A dry cotton ball can be kept in the anal region to help absorb the moisture and should be replaced accordingly.
- Avoid scratching the anal region, as it causes more irritation to the skin and leads to inflammation.
- Cold compresses can be applied to the affected region to help get relief from itching in anus.
- Taking a lukewarm bath can also provide relief from pruritus ani.
- The finger nails should be kept trimmed and patient should wear cotton gloves during sleep to help prevent scratching.
- Irritants, such as genital deodorants, bubble baths, moist wipes, perfumed soaps, witch hazel products should be avoided.
- Overuse of laxatives should be avoided.
- Patient should cut down on certain food products such as cola, coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits, spicy foods, chocolate, tomatoes and other foods which can cause diarrhea.
- Patient should wear loose clothing and cotton underwear to help keep the anal region dry.
- Women should avoid wearing pantyhose and tight fitting clothes as they tend to trap moisture and further aggravate the condition of itching in anus.
- 1 % corticosteroid cream can be used about two to three times a day to help relieve anal itching. Make sure that corticosteroid cream is not used for more than a couple of weeks, as there are many side effects to this medicine use.
- Gels or ointments which protect the skin from moisture can be applied, such as petroleum jelly or a zinc oxide ointment.
- Regular, firm bowel movements should be maintained. If patient is having frequent bowel movements or soft stools, then fiber should be gradually added to the diet.