Pruritus Ani (Anal Itching)

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  • Introduction & Treatment Options
    Help For Relieving Pain & Discomfort

    Introduction

    Itching around the anal area is referred to as pruritus ani. This is a common condition that results in an urge to scratch around the skin of the anus. This can be a chronic condition, and the intensity of the itching can be quite bothersome. The specialists at Colorectal Surgical Associates offer treatment options and advice on how to manage this condition that can help you alleviate the discomfort associated with anal itching.

    Causes

    Pruritis ani is usually a symptom of an underlying condition such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures or also from excessive moisture in the anal area due to perspiration or residual stool around the anal area. Residual stool can result from frequent bowel movements, incomplete evacuation, or a weak sphincter. Other causes may include a fungal infection, allergic or contact dermatitis, warts, pinworms and psoriasis. In rare cases it may be associated with anal cancer.

    It is important to have a thorough evaluation by a surgeon at CSA to ensure proper diagnosis and management of your condition.

    Contributing Factors

    Often this condition is made worse by the tendency to scratch the area excessively. It is also a common tendency to clean the area vigorously with soaps and chemicals as well as overuse of scented wipes and pads. All of these measures serve to actually worsen the condition by damaging the skin and washing away protective natural oils.

    Foods that are acidic and spicy as well as carbonated or caffeinated beverages may worsen the condition by irritating the anal area. Alcohol, especially beer and wine, and smoking are also well known to result in irritation.

    What to Avoid

    Avoid foods and beverages commonly known to irritate the area:

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    Try to follow the above measures as strictly as possible during the period of treatment recommended by the surgeons at CSA (usually 4 to 8 weeks). Eventually, one can usually resume regular activities and eating habits with only slight modifications, depending on the cause of the symptoms.

    Management

    In addition to the use of medications and specific measures instructed by your colon and rectal surgeon, it is important to follow the measures listed below to help relieve your symptoms:

    Cleanliness

    Keep the area clean and dry. The best way to clean the area is to gently apply water pressure from a shower head or in the bath. Use warm water only and avoid any soaps or scrubs. Pat the area dry and apply a soft absorbent directly to the itchy area (such as cotton, a 4 x 4 gauze or cornstarch powder) to keep the area dry. Avoid all medicated, perfume and deodorant powders.

    Hygiene

    For hygiene after a bowel movement it is best to rinse with warm water and pat the area dry. If this is not possible, try to use wet tissue paper or a warm washcloth to blot the area clean. Avoid medicated or perfumed toilet paper, and avoid rubbing or excessive wiping.

    Itching

    Try not to scratch the itchy area. Scratching produces more damage, which in turn makes the itching worse. For individuals that experience irresistible itching at night, applying the recommended creams may be helpful.

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    Schedule a Consultation at Colorectal Surgical Associates

    Please contact Houston Colorectal Surgical Associates today for more information on anal itching conditions, or to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced colorectal surgeons.