What Is Pruritus Ani?
Itching around the anal area, called pruritus ani, is a common condition. An irresistible
urge to scratch results. It may be most noticeable and bothersome at night or after
What Causes This To Happen?
Several factors may be at fault. 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
be a problem include chocolate, fruits, tomatoes, nuts and popcorn. Other rare causes
of pruritus ani may include pinworms, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, hemorrhoids,
anal fissures, anal infections and allergies.
Does Pruritus Ani Result From 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 and
a washcloth. This almost always makes the problem worse by damaging the skin and
washing away protective natural oils.
What Can Be Done To Make This Itching Go Away?
A careful examination by a colon and rectal surgeon or other physician may identify
a definite cause for the itching. Your physician can recommend treatment to eliminate
the specific problem. Treatment of pruritus ani may include these four points.
1. AVOID FURTHER TRAUMA to the affected area:
2. AVOID MOISTURE in the anal 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
area clean. Never rub.
- Try not to scratch the itchy area. Scratching produces more damage, which in
turn makes the itching worse.
3. USE ONLY MEDICATIONS PRESCRIBED BY YOUR PHYSICIAN and use them only as directed.
Apply prescription medications sparingly to the skin around the anal area and avoid
- Apply either a few wisps of cotton, a 4 x 4 gauze or some cornstarch powder to keep the area dry.
- Avoid all medicated, perfumed and deodorant powders.
4. 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 day.
How Long Does This Treatment Usually Take?
Most people experience some relief from itching within a week. Complete cure usually
comes within four to six weeks. A follow up appointment with your colon and rectal
surgeon may be recommended to prevent recurrence of pruritus ani.
Reference: American Society of Colon and