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Anal itching

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.

Symptoms Causes

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

Most anal itching doesn't require medical care. However, see your doctor if:

  • Anal itching is severe or lasts longer than one to two months
  • There's bleeding from the rectum
  • You can't figure out what's causing a persistent itch

Persistent anal itching may be related to a skin condition or other health problem that requires medical treatment.

Possible causes of anal itching include:

  • Skin irritation. Friction and moisture can irritate the sensitive skin in the anal area. This irritation sometimes causes anal itching. Scents, dyes and softening agents in products such as soap and toilet paper may also trigger irritation and anal itching. Overuse of these products often aggravates the problem.
  • Digestive problems. Repeated bouts of diarrhea can cause anal irritation and itching. Accidental leakage of feces (fecal soiling or incontinence) is often a contributing factor.
  • Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are engorged veins located just under the membrane that lines the lowest part of your rectum and anus. They often occur as a result of straining during a bowel movement. Anal itching can be a symptom of hemorrhoids.
  • Infections. Sexually transmitted infections may also involve the anus and can cause anal itching. In children, the parasite that causes pinworms can cause persistent anal itching. Adults in the same household can also be infected. Other parasites may cause similar itching. Yeast infections, which usually affect women, can also cause itching in the anal area.
  • Skin disease. Sometimes, anal itching is the result of a specific skin disease, such as psoriasis or contact dermatitis.
  • Anal tumors. Rarely, benign or cancerous tumors in or around the anus may be a cause of anal itching.
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