Anal itching is a common condition. 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 A-nie), anal itching has many causes, such as skin problems, excessive washing or hemorrhoids.
If anal itching is persistent, talk with your doctor. With proper treatment and self-care measures, most people get complete relief from anal itching.
Anal itching may also be associated with burning and soreness. The itching and irritation may be temporary or more persistent, depending on the cause.
When to see a doctor
Persistent anal itching may be related to a skin condition or other health problem that requires medical treatment.
Possible causes of anal itching include:
Preparing for your appointment
Often, you won't need to see a doctor about anal itching. If the itching is persistent, bring it up with your primary care doctor. Depending on the cause of your anal itching, your primary care doctor may refer you 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 initial appointment.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together. For anal itching, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
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 one to two months 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: 2012-10-09
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