Anal itching, or pruritus ani, is a common symptom of a variety of conditions. Most cases of anal itching can be treated at home without needing to see a doctor. We go over the possible causes, along with at-home remedies to relieve itching.

The causes of anal itching are often related to skin or internal medical issues. Skin-related causes of an itchy anus include:

  • atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema
  • excess friction to the anal area, such as rough wiping after a bowel movement
  • exposure to perfumes and dyes present in toilet paper, soaps, or clothing detergents
  • improper wiping after having a bowel movement
  • psoriasis

Medical conditions that can cause anal itching include:

Other causes include taking laxatives or other medications that cause diarrhea. Certain foods are also linked with anal itching. These include:

  • chocolate
  • spicy foods
  • caffeinated beverages
  • tomatoes
  • citrus fruits

In addition to anal itching, you may also experience:

  • burning
  • soreness
  • visible redness
  • swelling
  • ulcers
  • a rash

Symptoms of an itchy anus are rarely a medical emergency. An exception is when you experience bleeding from your rectum. Bleeding may signal recurrent gastrointestinal bleeding.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if your itching disrupts your daily life and is getting worse even after self-care treatments.

If the itching is due to an infection, a doctor can prescribe an antifungal, antibacterial, or antiparasitic treatment to get rid of the infectious organisms. Prescription ointments that have higher steroid doses can also lessen itching and reduce inflammation.

Hemorrhoids that cause anal itching may require more invasive treatments, such as banding to shrink the hemorrhoid or surgical removal of the hemorrhoid.

Avoiding foods and medications known to cause itchiness in the anus can also reduce symptoms.

You can take several steps at home to treat an itchy anus. Consider the following:

  • Apply petroleum jelly to the affected area.
  • Clean the area with water and a soft washcloth when bathing.
  • Dry the anal area thoroughly after using the restroom and bathing.
  • Refrain from scratching the anal area.
  • Refrain from using bath products that contain perfumes or dyes, which can irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
  • Use toilet paper that doesn’t contain harsh dyes or bleaches. You may prefer to buy types that are described as soft.
  • Wear breathable cotton underwear that’s not too tight.
  • Wipe with moistened wipes or toilet paper moistened with water to prevent stool from staying on the anal skin.

You may also want to consider a sitz bath. In a sitz bath, you place your butt and hips in warm water for up to 20 minutes. Sitting in a sitz bath after a bowel movement can help reduce irritation and itching. Always gently dry the anal area after the bath.

You can also purchase several over-the-counter topical creams to treat anal itching. These include zinc oxide, hydrocortisone cream, or topical capsaicin cream.

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Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent an itchy anus. Prevention techniques include:

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine

Eating well and getting regular exercise can help promote digestive regularity to prevent diarrhea and hemorrhoids.

Practicing good hygiene habits

Practicing good hygiene can help prevent itching. Good practices include refraining from scratching and keeping the anal area clean and dry.

Wearing loose clothing

Wearing loose-fitting clothing with natural, breathable fibers can minimize irritation and moisture.

Using clear soaps and detergents

Refraining from using soaps and detergents with dyes and perfumes can also prevent skin irritation that leads to an itchy anus.