Anal Itching: Why Does It Happen?

Anal itching may be accompanied by redness and irritation of the whole area. There are hygienic causes and health issues that generate this symptom.
Anal Itching: Why Does It Happen?

Last update: 11 May, 2021

Anal itching is a really uncomfortable situation. It’s not a disease, but rather a symptom that can appear for many reasons. For example, due to poor hygiene or excessive sweating in the area.

This problem consists of an intense itching sensation not only in the anus but also in the entire surrounding area. It can progress and extend to the scrotum or vagina in some situations. Interestingly, it’s more frequent in men.

Anal itching is usually worse at night and, although most cases are benign, it can also be a symptom of another underlying health issue. In this article, we’ll explain the most frequent causes and how to solve this problem.

What causes anal itching?

An itching anus is very annoying and often embarrasses the sufferer. It’s often associated with a reddening of the whole area and an intense burning sensation. However, scratching increases the irritation.

Itching in the anus usually goes away on its own. In fact, most of the time the cause isn’t even found. It’s usually associated with having eaten irritating or spicy foods. Other causes of this symptom are:

  • Poor hygiene. The remains of feces and the bacteria that compose them alter the pH of the skin of the anus. This causes the itching sensation and also promotes infections.
  • Excessive cleaning or cleansing with irritants also causes anal itching. Using certain soaps or wipes and even washing the area too hard can cause itching.
  • Skin diseases such as psoriasis or dermatitis, even allergic processes.
  • Skin cancer in the nearby area.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.

It’s important to note that itching in the anus can be caused by numerous infections. It’s common, especially in children, due to intestinal parasites such as pinworms. This health issue is also related to candidiasis, among others.

Lastly, we can’t forget that any injury, such as hemorrhoids and fistulas, are another frequent cause of anal itching.

A woman with anal itching.
Hemorrhoids are a common cause of anal itching.

How is this situation relieved?

As we’ve already mentioned, itching in the anus often disappears on its own and doesn’t require any treatment. However, if the itching becomes constant, or if there are signs of infection in the area or bleeding, you should visit your doctor.

To find the cause of itching in the anus, a good medical history is often enough to provide the doctor with some answers. The doctor should know what your diet and hygiene habits are like in order to rule out that these are the causes.

They may have to perform a digital rectal examination and an examination of the anus. This way, they can verify that there aren’t any lesions such as hemorrhoids or wounds that are causing the itching.

A man with anal itching.

What’s the treatment for anal itching?

To treat itching in the anus, the most important thing is to control hygiene measures. After bowel movements, professionals recommend washing the area with a neutral soap or wet wipes. Then dry the area gently with a clean towel.

There are certain ointments and lotions that can soothe the area. Some doctors also recommend sprinkling a little talcum powder. Other general measures that are essential are:

  • Avoiding scratching and having your nails trimmed and filed just in case.
  • Minding your diet. Spicy foods can irritate the anus much more.
  • You shouldn’t take laxatives. Therefore, it’s also a good idea to consume more fruit and fiber.

In cases where the cause of itching in the anus is an infection, the physician will choose the most appropriate treatment. The same is true when it’s a skin disease.

The most important thing to know is that anal itching can have many causes. Although it’s most often benign and self-resolving, it’s best to see a doctor if the discomfort persists or becomes more complicated.

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