Pruitus ani (anal itching) is a skin condition around the anus that can affect both men and women at any age. Factors such as faeces or mucus from the anus irritate the surrounding skin, which causes itching. Scratching can further damage the skin. Sometimes this condition is caused by haemorrhoids, a fissure, fistula, candidiasis or other skin diseases. If these disorders are ruled out, there may be no obvious cause. People should aim to avoid the irritation/scratching cycle with these tips.
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Things you need
- white toilet paper and moist wipes
- mild soap
- zinc oxide ointment or cornstarch
- loose clothing and cotton underwear
- food diary
- drinking water
- possible steroid creams, antihistamines, anti-fungal medications
Wipe gently after a bowel movement using plain white toilet paper or moist wipes. Coloured or perfumed products can easily cause skin irritation.
Bath daily and also wash the skin around the anus after passing faeces. Use a mild soap or no soap, just warm water. Gently dry the skin thoroughly or use a hair dryer on a low setting.
Keep the area dry to avoid chaffing. Try dusting cornstarch on the irritation or use zinc oxide ointment as a barrier to moisture.
Wear loose clothing and underwear. White cotton underwear is preferred over nylon or synthetic fabrics.
Watch your diet and keep a food diary. Some foods produce enzymes that irritate the skin when stool passes. Try to avoid caffeine, spicy foods, citrus, dairy and nuts. Allergy tests such as RAST may be able to find the foods that may cause irritation in one's body.
Tips and warnings
- Consult a doctor if the anal itching persists after trying self-help remedies. Doctors may prescribe steroid creams to relieve the irritation. Some patients find antihistamines help the itching. If the irritation is due to Candida or fungus, antifungal medication may be ordered.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.
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