- In addition to itching, symptoms of pruritus ani include soreness, pain and a burning sensation in the anal tissue. These symptoms may also indicate more serious conditions, so see a doctor if you experience them.
- Chemical irritation is a common factor with many potential sources, including colored or scented toilet paper, perfumes and colognes, laundry soap, birth control products and douches.
Excess moisture is another common factor. Potential problems include frequent diarrhea, wet or sticky stools and habitual wearing of sweaty clothing.
Dry skin, a frequent result of aging, can lead to particularly intense cases of pruritus. Other possible skin-related causes include eczema, seborrhea and psoriasis.
Your anus can also be irritated by many foods and beverages, including nuts, tomatoes, ketchup, cheese, popcorn, chocolate, alcohol, milk, coffee, tea or other caffeinated or carbonated drinks.
Parasites like pinworms are also a potential culprit, as are sexually transmitted diseases and other infections that involve the anal tissue.
Still other possible causes of pruritus ani include hemorrhoids, yeast infections, anal fissures or abrasions, misuse of laxatives, stress and use of medications that cause diarrhea.
A more serious, and fortunately far more rare, cause of the condition is the presence of cancerous or benign anal tumors.
Despite common conceptions, pruritus ani usually has little to do with anal hygiene. In fact, excessive washing of the anus can either cause the condition or make an existing case worse.
- Although most cases of pruritus ani are easily dealt with through home treatment, see your doctor or rectal specialist to determine the source of your particular ailment. If the cause is not serious, you will likely be asked to follow some basic treatment guidelines.
Avoid exposing the affected area to moisture. Some doctors will prescribe a powder to diminish moisture, but that powder should not be medicated, or contain perfume or other irritants.
As much as possible, pruritus sufferers should also resist the urge to scratch the affected tissue, because this can worsen the condition. Avoid rubbing motions of any kind, because they can also irritate the tissue. Regular use of toilet paper may also be temporarily avoided, and can be substituted by using baby wipes to blot the area.
Your doctor may also prescribe a topical medication, but both prescribed and over-the-counter topical products can only be used for a limited time. Otherwise they, too, may begin to harm your skin and worsen your condition.
- Following these guidelines will bring your symptoms under control within a week or so. In some cases, relief may take somewhat longer. Preventing a recurrence of the condition depends largely on avoiding the habits or activities that initially caused the problem. Because of the large number of possible causes, permanent symptom elimination may take some patience and experimentation on your part.