4 Causes of an Itchy Anus
What are the causes of an itchy anus?
- Irritating products
- Poor hygiene
- Sexually transmitted infections
Anal itching, which is also called pruritus ani, is a common condition that causes a strong urge to scratch. For many people, this can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. The feeling can be temporary or last for a long time, depending on the underlying reason for the itch. The causes of an itchy anus are many, so the treatment will also vary.
An itchy anus is also often accompanied by redness, soreness, and a burning sensation on the affected area. While in most cases, the itching will go away on its own, it's important to consult a doctor immediately if you experience persistent or severe anal itching. You might also require medical help if you notice anal bleeding, stool leakage, or infection. If you can’t find the cause of persistent itching, it’s better to find medical help.1 Possible causes of an itchy anus include the following:
The skin that surrounds your anus is sensitive, which means that it can easily get irritated if you use scented products — from soaps, powders, lotions, creams, and ointments. It is also easy to irritate the skin that surrounds the anus if you wipe it with rough toilet paper, a rough washcloth, or hot water. Some dyes in toilet paper products can also cause skin irritation.2
If you suspect that these are the causes of your anal itching, avoid harsh soaps, scents, and deodorants in the meantime. These contain allergens or irritants that can make your itching worse. When using toilet paper, look for products that are dye-free, unscented, or hypoallergenic.2
Both washing too much or too little can cause an itchy anus.3 Washing too aggressively can irritate the skin around the anus, so make sure to never scrub the area with toilet paper or a washcloth.2
But despite that, it’s important to wipe and clean your anus properly after pooping, because it may itch when stool is left in the folds of the anus.2 If you’re already having an itchy anus, you can keep the area clean with plain water and mild soap. Make sure to avoid scrubbing and pat dry.4
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STI) can cause anal itching.1An STI is typically passed from one person to another through sexual contact.5
One common STI is gonorrhea, which is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can thrive in the vagina, penis, rectum, mouth, and eye. If it affects the rectum, it can cause anal itching, discharge, and also pain during bowel movements. Treatment of gonorrhea usually includes antibiotics.5
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that can develop inside and outside your anus and rectum. External hemorrhoids can cause extreme itching around the anus, in addition to pain especially when sitting.6
Sometimes, when you strain when using the toilet, an internal hemorrhoid can be pushed out, until it protrudes through the anus. This is called a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid. When this happens, it can also bring out the mucus that can irritate the area around the anus, which causes itching. If you leave the hemorrhoid as is, mucus production will continue.7
To ease the itch caused by a hemorrhoid, it’s a good idea to stop scratching. A home remedy you can try is to soak the affected area into a sitz bath, or a shallow basin that fits over the toilet. A full bath is also a good idea. Fill the sitz bath with warm water, sit on it, and soak your anus. The warm water will help relax and heal the area.7
Another remedy is using a cold compress to numb the area and relieve the itch. An over-the-counter ointment for hemorrhoids may also help.7 But these home remedies are only temporary fixes, and the itch might still come back.
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Knowing the causes of an itchy anus can help you determine the right treatment, so you can treat the underlying condition. While some itching is normal and will go away on its own, anal itching caused by irritating products, hygiene issues, STIs, and hemorrhoids need to be addressed in order not to worsen the problem. If your anal itching persists, consult a doctor for a checkup.
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