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    Anal Itch (Pruritus Ani)

     Where to Seek Treatment


    Contributed by Singapore General Hospital


    Itching around the anal area, called pruritus ani, is a common condition. There is an irresistible urge to scratch. It may be most noticeable and bothersome at night or after bowel movements. 


    There may be several causes. A common cause is excessive cleaning of the anal area. Moisture around the anus, from excessive sweating or from moist, sticky stools, is another possible cause.

    In addition, certain beverages, including alcohol, milk, citrus fruit juices and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, may aggravate the condition in some people. Likewise, food that may cause problems include chocolate, fruits, tomatoes, nuts and popcorn. Other uncommon cause of pruritus ani may include pinworms, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal infections and allergies.

    Does Pruritus Ani Result From Lack of Cleanliness?

    Cleanliness may initially be a factor. However, the natural tendency once a person develops this itching is to wash the area vigorously and frequently with strong soap and a washcloth. This almost always makes the problem worse by damaging the skin and washing away protective natural oils.


    A careful examination by a doctor may identify a definite cause for the itching. Your doctor can then recommend a specific treatment to eliminate problem. Treatment of pruritus ani may include these four points.

    1.  AVOID FURTHER TRAUMA to the affected area:

    Do not use any soap on the anal area.

    Do not rub the anal area with anything - not even toilet paper.  

    For hygiene, use wet toilet paper, wet tissues or a wet cloth to dab the area clean. Never rub.

    Do not to scratch the itchy area. Scratching causes more damage, which results in making the itching worse.

    2.  AVOID MOISTURE in the anal area:

    After cleaning, put some cotton or gauze to keep the area dry.

    Do not put any all medicated, perfumed and deodorant powders.

    3.  USE ONLY MEDICATIONS PRESCRIBED BY YOUR DOCTOR and use them only as directed. Lightly apply the prescribed medications and do not rub.
    How long does this treatment usually take?

    Most people experience some relief from itching within a week. Complete cure usually comes within four to six weeks.

    Need indepth information ?

    Access our Conditions & Treatments sections for related topics on Colorectal Cancer.

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