Anal itching, also regarded as pruritus ani, is an uncomfortable, itchy feeling around the anus. Pruritus ani is a symptom not a disease, and several various causes can induce it. Many, if not most cases of this doesn’t have any anal conditions.

The cause of anal itching is often unidentifiable. Some causes may include, irritants which irritate the skin by fecal incontinence and long-term (chronic) diarrhea. This may be due to the skin or body products routinely used that includes skin-irritating ingredients, or habits like using harsh cleansers or moist wipes and washing too vigorously. Infection is also one cause of this symptom instigated by a disease such as sexually-transmitted infections, pinworms, and yeast infections

Anal itching is often a result of a severe skin condition, such as psoriasis or contact dermatitis.


Anal itching is an unpleasant feeling, which is momentarily relieved by scratching or rubbing around the anus. Especially in the evening, the itch gets worse and can affect sleep. The skin in the region is red in most instances.

If the anal itch has become a long-term problem, the frequent scratching around the anus may cause the skin to become sensitive and weak, thicken or become lumpy. Repetitions and prolonged scratching can also cause cracks in the anal skin, which can progress to painful infections.


The doctor may ask you to explain your current diet and medicine, your bowel habits, and how you regularly clean your anal area after a bowel movement to help determine the cause of your anal itch. Your doctor will check your medical history for any history of rectal problems (hemorrhoids, fissures, or fistulas) or skin problems (psoriasis, eczema, or seborrhea).

Questions from your doctor will be accompanied by a physical examination of your anal region and, often, a digital rectal examination. If you have a record of skin problems that affect other areas of the body, the doctor will likely examine these areas as well.

If the doctor suspects a worm or parasite infection, he will require a stool sample and test. Rarely does your doctor need to inspect the region by putting into your anus a particular viewing device called an anoscope. This will help your doctor identify if a condition inside your rectum is causing the itch.



The duration of anal itch depends on its cause.   If the itching is due to simple skin irritation, the problem generally goes away quickly once you have found and avoided the triggers or causes. In several cases, necessary treatment interventions will offer relief within one week and will fully cure the problem within one month.

The anal itch can be treated mainly with:

  • After each bowel movement, thorough yet gentle cleaning and drying of the anal area using fragrance-free toilet paper or a clean cloth towel.
  • Dusting the anal region after bowel movements with non-medicated talcum powder, or placing a clean square of cotton gauze around the anus to absorb any excess humidity. 
  • Fighting the urge to scratch, however, itchy the area may become. The itch would pass within a short time, or at least decrease in severity, but the more you scratch, the longer the itch stays and the longer it will take to go away.
  • To help you stop scratching, apply topical remedies such as zinc oxide or hydrocortisone ointment (1%) regularly or as needed.
  • If you itch at night or in your sleep, wear lightweight cotton gloves.

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