What is pruritis ani?
Itching around the anal area is called pruritis ani. It is a common condition leading to an irresistible urge to scratch. It may be most noticeable and bothersome at night or after bowel movements.
What is the cause?
Several factors may cause pruritis ani. A common cause is excessive cleaning of the anal area. Moisture around the anus, from excessive sweating or from moist, sticky stools, is another possible cause. In some people, a loose and/or irritating stool may be caused by a high intake of liquids.
In addition, drinking certain beverages, including some alcoholic beverages - especially beer, milk, citrus fruit juices and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, may be aggravating for some people. Similarly, some foods that may cause a problem include chocolates, fruits, tomatoes, nuts and popcorn. Other rare causes of pruritis ani include pinworms, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, haemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal infections and allergies.
Is it due to lack of cleanliness?
Cleanliness is almost never a factor. However, the natural tendency once a person develops this itching is to wash the area vigorously and frequently with soap. This tends to make the problem worse by damaging the skin and washing away protective natural oils.
What is the treatment?
A careful examination by a surgeon or physician may identify a definite cause
for the itching. Treatment of pruritis ani includes:
- Avoid further trauma to the affected area:
- Do not use soap of any kind on the anal area.
- Do not scrub the anal area with anything - even toilet paper.
- For hygiene, use wet toilet paper, baby wipes or a wet washcloth to blot the
- Try not to scratch the itchy area; scratching produces more damage, which in
turn makes the itching worse.
- Avoid moisture in the anal area:
- Apply either a few wisps of cotton or a 4 x 4 gauze to keep the area dry.
- Avoid all medicated, perfumed and deodorant powders.
- Use only medications prescribed by a physician and use them only as
directed. Apply prescription medications sparingly to the skin around the anal
area and avoid rubbing.
- Avoid excess fluids and the foods previously mentioned. In most instances, a
maximum of six glasses of fluid daily is reasonable. There is not usually any
health benefit to drinking more fluid than this in the course of a
Most people experience some relief from itching within a
week. Complete cure usually comes within four to six weeks.