There’s a Name For That: Pruritus Ani - Houston Colon – Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery

There’s a Name For That: Pruritus Ani

June 20, 2011

What is pruritus ani

Pruritus ani is a condition where the skin around the anus gets irritated. Moisture, pressure, rubbing against clothing and sitting greatly irritate the condition. When pruritus ani becomes severe, the discomfort is at an all time high of irritation with added soreness and burning.

What is the cause of pruritus ani

According to Houston colorectal surgeons, eating if some foods with irritating chemicals are known to contribute to pruritus ani, such as:

  • Tomatoes and products made from tomatoes
  • Coffee and tea
  • Dairy products
  • White bread
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Hot sauce
  • Peppers
  • Spices

Anal perspiration, diarrhea, residual stool, incontinence and gas can cause great irritation. Candidiasis, known as yeast infection, is a main cause of pruritus ani. Diabetes and HIV increase the risk of yeast infections. Antibiotics are also known to cause yeast infections and irritation of the anus. Fistulas, tunnels from the small intestine or colon to the skin around the anus bring irritating fluids to the anal area. Pin worms, fissures, skin tags and hemorrhoids are all known to cause anal itching.

How is pruritus ani treated

The first step colorectal surgeons undertake in treating pruritus ani is to relieve the itching and burning. Keeping the area clean and dry is imperative. Make sure that no residual bowel is left behind after a bowel movement. Resist the urge to scratch the affected area. Scratching only makes the condition worsen. Placing a folded piece of acid free toilet paper against the affected area has been known to reduce any moisture in the area. Make sure that garments worn against the area do not have any artificial fibers. Changing laundry detergent may also be recommended.

Many ointments, creams, suppositories, gels, pads and foams are sold over the counter to treat pruritus ani symptoms. Try not to use baby wipes, as these keep the irritated area moist and can contain irritating chemicals.

Your rectal doctor may prescribe other treatments such as:

  • Protectants which place a barrier between the skin and irritants
  • Astringents that dry the skin
  • Antiseptics that prevent bacteria growth

Pruritus ani in Houston does not have to be an affliction you must learn to live with.  With proper care and/or change of habits, it is a very treatable condition.  If you have given the  above suggestions an empirical trial and still suffer, consult a Houston colorectal surgeon who may prescribe more aggressive strategies.


The Houston colorectal surgeons at Colorectal Surgical Associates are experienced in treating pruritus ani.  They also are well-practiced in treating other anal complaints such as anal warts, anal fissures, and anal cancer Houston.