Anal Itching is one of the most common conditions, in which itching is done around the anus i.e. near the opening of the bowels. It is also called pruritus ani (proo-RIE-tus-A-nie) or perianal itching. Anal itching is often more common in men than in the female. Furthermore, It is found to be one of the most embarrassing and uncomfortable problems than another itching. It may cause several problems like skin problems, hemorrhoids etc.
Common terms used for anal itching are:
- Anal pruritus
- Perianal itching
- Anorectal itching
- Itchy butt/bum/bottom
So, it can be defined as the intense itching around the anus.
Actually, anal itching is just a symptom, not a disease itself. But it is one of the most embarrassing problems so most of the people get uncomfortable to share the problem with a doctor. It can happen to anyone but it especially occurs in men than in women and more common in adults than children or the elderly. It can be cured in time if physician examines the skin.
Factors that put most of the people more at risk for anal itching are:
- Dietary factors
- Fecal soilage
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic dry skin conditions such as seborrhea and psoriasis
- Profuse sweating
- Recent antibiotic use
Causes of Anal Itching:
If such symptoms like Redness, burning, and soreness is seen that may be the cause of anal itching. Anal itching has typically two causes: primary cause and secondary cause.
- Primary Cause: Here itching is not the result of another condition
- Secondary Cause: Here itching may be the result of another condition which is discussed in detail as:
Secondary causes may be due to skin irritants, infections, skin conditions, systemic medical conditions. Foods and drugs. Some of the foodstuffs that make itching worse are:
- Spicy foods
- Citrus Fruits, such as oranges
- Dairy Products
- Excessive liquids such as beer, milk or wine.
There are also other causes which are discussed below:
Dermatological (Skin) causes:
- Continuous contact with feces causes irritation.
- Persistent diarrhea also causes irritation.
- Keloid scar of skin- that is hard, smooth and develop when scar tissue develops excessively.
- Allergic dermatitis may occur due to allergic reactions to creams, bubble baths, washing powders, wet wipes etc.
- Yeasts, bacteria and virus etc can cause skin infection in the anal region.
- Pinworm is a common cause of itching in children and families with young children. Female pinworms lay eggs in the folds of the anus; that causes itching.
- Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that also affects the perianal area.
- Small skin tags may hide fecal residue or trap moisture that causes itching.
Gastroenterological (bowel) causes:
- Anal cancer should also be considered and checked for
- Hemorrhoids(piles) can also cause local irritation
- Inflammatory bowel diseases also cause frequent diarrhea and irritation.
Systemic (whole body) causes:
- Blood Cancers
- Rheumatological diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Liver disease
Psychological (mind) causes:
Anxiety, depression, and stress also cause anal itching worse.
Diagnosis of anal itching:
If you go to doctor consult then your doctor can easily solve your problem by examining your itching pattern. He/she may ask you several questions:
- Is there blood on toilet paper, anal pain or lumps to indicate hemorrhoids?
- Has there been any urinary or fecal incontinence?
- Is there a relevant past medical history of Anorectal surgery, diabetes, hemorrhoids?
- Has there been any bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps?
A doctor may even do internal examination by inserting a gloved and lubricated finger through the anus into the rectum. This is known as a digital rectal examination. It helps to diagnose hemorrhoids or constipation as well as rule out suspected cases of bowel cancer.
When to see a doctor:
Most of the anal itching don’t require medical care but if following symptoms are seen then go for doctor consult:
- Anal bleeding
- Anal areas seems to be infected
- If you could not find out what are the causes of anal itching
- Anal itching is severe or persistent.
A doctor even checks your whole body and done following investigations like:
- A biopsy if there is any abnormal skin.
- Stool cultures if there is any diarrhea.
- Swabs if an infection is suspected.
Routine blood tests to check blood count, renal, liver, diabetes, and inflammatory markers.
Treatment for anal itching:
Caring is essential to anal itching before any worse will happen to your body. So to control itching, you should follow following techniques:
- Break the itch-scratch cycle, because further scratching leads to more itching.
- You can take an oral antihistamine at night to help lessen your nighttime itching.
- Take a warm sitz bath 3 times each day and after each bowel movement.
- Avoid foods that increase rectal itchings such as coffee, tea, cola, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, and excessive amounts of vitamin c.
- Trim your fingernails short and clean it.
- Control your Stress. Being under stress and feeling anxious or worried can cause some people to experience skin itching?
Home Remedies and self-care:
- Use moist toilet tissues instead of paper.
- Keep the anal area clean after emptying the bowel
- Avoid highly seasoned and spiced foods.
- Use drying powders.
- Wear loose, breathable clothing, avoiding materials such as acrylic and nylon.
- Avoid irritating soaps and creams.
As per doctor consult, you can also use prescribed treatments such as:
You can use antihistamines such as hydroxyzine (Vistaril) if troubles occur at night.
- Soothing Ointments
For some patients soothing ointments like bismuth subgallate or zinc oxide is preferred.
Inflammation of the perianal skin may receive short-term topical drug treatment in the form of a mild corticosteroid- hydrocortisone.
- Local anesthetics
Benzocaine, benzyl alcohol, lidocaine, pramoxine etc are temporarily used for relieving pain and itching.
Ephedrine sulfate and epinephrine constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling. They act as mild anesthetics.
It will reduce itching, burning, and pain since these chemicals promote protein aggregation within cells
Aluminum hydroxide gel, cocoa butter, and glycerin form a barrier between the skin and potential irritants.
It will help to prevent allowing any medical ointments to penetrate deeper layers.
Similarly, Hypnosis, Anal tattooing and Capsaicin Cream are also other treatment methods you can follow to prevent anal itching. Therefore, anal itching should be a cure on time if any negligence is done, it may cause severe impact on the brain, body, and mind.