Anal itching is itching around your anus — the canal that's the outlet for your rectum. The itch, situated in your anus or on the skin just around your anus, is often intense and may be accompanied by a strong urge to scratch. You may find anal itching to be embarrassing and uncomfortable.
Also called pruritus ani (proo-RIE-tus AY-nie), anal itching has many causes. Numerous factors can cause anal itching to intensify, including moisture, rubbing of your clothing and pressure of sitting.
Many people have experienced anal itching. Don't be embarrassed to talk with your doctor about this condition. With proper treatment and self-care measures, most people can achieve complete relief from anal itching.
Anal itching is associated with other similar symptoms in and around the anus, including:
The itching and irritation in and around your anus may be a temporary condition, or it can be more persistent and bothersome. For some people, the irritation is so intense that the urge to scratch is irresistible.
When to see a doctor
Persistent anal itching may be related to a skin condition or other health problem that requires medical treatment.
Most cases of anal itching are caused by a harmless problem. Occasionally, however, anal itching can be a sign of more serious medical issues. Possible causes of anal itching include:
Contributing to the problem
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to a skin specialist (dermatologist) or a doctor who specializes in treating rectal and anal problems (proctologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important. For anal itching, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment at any time.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor may be able to diagnose the cause of your itching simply by asking you questions about your symptoms.
If the cause of your itching isn't obvious, your doctor may refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist) or a doctor who specializes in treating rectal and anal problems (proctologist) for further evaluation. A rectal exam may be all that's required for you to get an answer — and a solution — to a very uncomfortable problem.
Other tests, such as proctoscopy or colonoscopy to view more of the digestive tract, are sometimes needed to identify an underlying cause of anal itching. However, the precise cause of the itching may never be identified.
Treatments and drugs
Treatment of anal itching depends on the cause of the problem. It may include self-care measures, changes to your diet, treatment of infections or, rarely, surgery to correct an underlying problem.
With proper treatment, most people experience relief from anal itching in less than a week. Anal itching that continues for more than a few weeks needs to be evaluated by your doctor.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Prevention of anal itching mainly involves washing properly and avoiding irritants. If you already have anal itching, try these self-care measures:
Last Updated: 2010-05-06
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