Anal Itching

What is anal itching?

Anal itching, also referred to as pruritus ani, is a rash or irritation of the skin just outside of the anal opening. Usually raw and chapped, small ulcers or sores may also be present on the skin. This can cause severe itching, burning and even pain.

Anal itching is:

  • not due to an infection
  • not due to a cancer
  • not going to become cancerous

What causes anal itching?

Some causes of anal itching include:

  • irritation of the anal skin by chemicals in the stool
  • irritation by chemicals in soaps
  • improper wiping after bowel movements

When toilet paper is used to wipe the anal area after bowel movements, it has a tendency to smear some of the bowel movement material over the anal skin.

Dry toilet paper cannot remove all of this stool material. Therefore, it leaves a thin layer on the anal skin which dries and irritates the skin. This dryness and irritation of the anal skin can be made worse by soaps and vigorous washing.

Treatment

Anal itching can be very painful and uncomfortable, often lasting for long periods of time. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to treat:

  • Use natural vegetable powder applied to the anal area daily in liquid.
  • Practice of water hygiene; clean the anal area with water after bowel movements.
  • Use toilet paper that has been moistened with water to clean the anal area after bowel movements.
  • Vaseline or petroleum jelly can be applied to the anal region 1–3 times a day to decrease symptoms.
  • Avoid commercial wet wipes; chemicals in these products may exacerbate the problem.

Soap makes itching worse. One of the most important things in reducing anal itching is to stop using soaps to wash the anal area. Soap removes the natural oils from the anal skin making the dryness worse. However, if you feel you must use soap, try to use it less often, and use a moisturizing skin care bar which is less likely to remove the natural oils of the skin.