What is pruritis ani?
Pruritis ani (anal itching) is a common condition. The itch can be intense and can trigger a strong urge to scratch. The area around the anus can become red, sore, and inflamed.
What causes pruritis ani?
There are many causes of anal itching. These include:
- Proctologic disorders such as hemorrhoids
- Skin infections related to yeast, bacteria or viruses
- Parasitic infections such as pinworm infection
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Poor anal hygiene
- Excessive washing with use of toilet paper with dyes and perfumes
- Allergic reactions to certain foods
- Allergies to products used on the skin such as ointment or lotions
- Skin conditions such as psoriasis or skin cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease and diarrhea
How is pruritis ani treated?
Dr. Maher Abbas will examine your anus and assess the cause of your itching. Treatment will be based on the cause of your itching and may include treatment of proctologic conditions, prednisone-based ointment, zinc oxide, or antifungal medication. Most causes are not serious and will often resolve within 2 to 4 weeks. In addition to any prescribed medications, the following measures can be helpful:
- Avoid spicy foods, citrus fruit, caffeine [coffee, cola, chocolate], tomatoes, and alcohol as they can irritate the anal area and cause itching. Once the itching resolves you can gradually introduce these items one by one
- Keep a food diary of what you eat. Certain foods may irritate your anal area after a bowel movement
- After bowel movement, clean the area gently with water and mild soap. Dry thoroughly by patting the area dry with toilet paper or a towel but avoid vigorous wiping. You can use a hair dryer set on low
- Place a dry cotton ball against the anus to absorb the moisture
- Do not use products that contain alcohol (genital deodorant or wipes)
- Avoid strong soaps that contain fragrance
- Do not use scented or colored toilet paper
- Wear cotton underwear. Avoid pantyhose or other tight clothes
- Avoid scratching. You may find some relief by applying a cold compress to the area or taking a lukewarm bath
- Avoid constipation and take any prescribed medication. Increase fiber intake [see sections on High Fiber Food and Fiber Supplements]
A follow-up appointment will be scheduled in 2 to 4 weeks to assess your progress and check the area for healing. If there is no improvement in your condition, an alternate treatment will be recommended by Dr. Maher Abbas. On rare occasions, a skin biopsy is needed if your condition persists after local treatment.
Any questions? Contact Dr. Maher A. Abbas’ office nurse here.