Itchy anus or pruritus ani is the feeling or sensation of itching in the anal canal or rectum. The causes can vary, but generally occurs due to irritation of the skin of the anus.
Itchy anus is not a disease, but a symptom of a certain disease or condition. Itchy anus can generally heal on its own after sufferers know and avoid triggers.
However, in some cases, itchy anus can also be caused by a disease, so treatment is required.
Causes of Itchy Anus
The causes of itchy anus are very diverse, ranging from irritation, consumption of certain foods and drinks, use of drugs and supplements, to certain conditions or diseases. Here is the explanation:
Some conditions that can cause irritation and trigger itching in the anus include:
- Too rough when cleaning the anal area after defecation (BAB)
- Use of soap, skin cleansing products, feminine area cleaners, or wet wipes that don't suit the skin
Food and Drink
Consuming certain foods and drinks can also make anal itching worse. Some of these types of food and drinks are:
- Spicy food
- Fizzy, alcoholic or caffeinated drinks
Drugs and supplements
Broad- spectrum antibiotics, such as tetracycline and erythromycin , can also interfere with the good bacteria (normal flora) in the gut, causing anal itching.
Infectious diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites can also cause anal itching. Some of these types of infectious diseases are:
- Pinworm infection
- Sexually transmitted disease
Skin diseases that can cause itching in the anus and its surroundings are:
- Lichen planus
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Lichen sclerosus
Itchy anus can also be triggered by other ailments, such as:
- Anal fissure
- Skin tags
- Fecal incontinence
- Thyroid disease
- Anal tumors
- Colorectal cancer
Apart from the conditions above, there are several factors that can make itching in the anus worse, namely:
- Hot, humid, or wet conditions around the anus
- Unclean washing habits leave dirt on the skin around the anus
- Rarely change underwear
- Stress and anxiety
Symptoms of Itchy Anus
The main symptom of anal itching is the desire to scratch the anus due to unbearable itching. Itchy anus can also be accompanied by other symptoms in the anal area, such as:
- Heat or pain
- Rashes or sores
Itchiness and irritation can be short or long lasting, depending on the cause of the itching. Itching may also be worse at night, after having a bowel movement, or if you scratch it frequently.
When to see a doctor
Immediately consult a doctor if the anus itches without a known cause. Also check with your doctor if the itching in the anus is unbearable, lasts a long time, or if it is accompanied by:
- Blood or mucus discharge from the anus
- A lump appears around the anus
- Signs of infection appear around the anus
Diagnosis of itchy anus
The doctor will ask about symptoms, medical history, medications taken, and how the patient cleans the anus after defecating. A physical examination will also be carried out to see if there are any growths, hemorrhoids, or sores on the anus. Digital rectal examination can also be done to detect anal tumors.
Doctors can also carry out supporting examinations, such as:
- Proctoscopy, to see the condition of the drain by inserting a camera tube into the rectum
- Stool examination , to check for possible anal itching caused by a parasitic infection
- Scotch tape test , to check for possible anal itching caused by pinworm infection, by placing a plaster over the patient's anus
Treatment of Itchy Anus
Treatment of anal itching depends on the cause. One method that can be done by a doctor is to provide drugs, such as:
- Corticosteroid cream , if anal itching is caused by dermatitis
- Antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, or antiparasitics, if the anal itching is caused by an infection
If anal itching is caused by another condition, the doctor will take further action. For example, an itchy anus due to hemorrhoids is treated with a hemorrhoid binding procedure or hemorrhoid removal surgery .
To help the healing process, patients can make the following independent efforts:
- Don't scratch the anus even though it itches, because it will only make the itching go away longer.
- Clip your fingernails short and wear cotton gloves to prevent injuries from unknowingly scratching the anus while sleeping.
- Apply a cream containing zinc oxide or petroleum jelly to keep the anal skin moist.
- Do a sitz bath , which is soaking the anal area in warm water for 20 minutes after having a bowel movement, to help relieve itching and irritation.
- Always make sure the anal area and its surroundings are dry before wearing underwear.
Itchy Anus Complications
Itchy anus that lasts for a long time, especially if you scratch it often, can cause the skin around the anus to become rough and thick. The habit of scratching an itchy anus can also cause sores and infections on the skin of the anus. As a result, sufferers will feel increasingly uncomfortable.
Prevention of anal itching
There are several efforts that can be made to prevent the appearance of itching in the anus, namely:
- Clean the anus after defecation with clean water. Do not use perfumed soaps and wipes.
- Gently dry the anal area with a towel and don't rub it. Make sure the anal area is dry before wearing underwear.
- Avoid consuming food, drink, and drugs that can trigger irritation in the anus. Adopt a healthy diet to avoid constipation or diarrhea.
- Use cotton underwear and change it every day. Do not wear underwear that is too tight so that the anus is not damp.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water before cooking and eating to prevent worm infection. Avoid the habit of touching food with hands that are not clean.