Have you ever been faced with that embarrassing, irresistible, itchy anus in public? Yes? Well, this distressing situation isn’t peculiar to you. Frankly speaking, the result of a Google search inspired today’s post. There are over a million monthly inquiries regarding this occurrence.
Additionally, the keywords revolved around “anal itching” or “itchy butt hole”. This reaffirms that this is a common, yet, serious problem. Apparently, skin conditions, digestive issues, and chronic diseases are implicated in this discomfort.
Technically called Pruritis ani, it is neither a medical emergency nor a disease condition per se, but might indicate a more serious problem. Itching can lead to scraping, cuts, pain, and swelling. It goes without saying, then, that one has to ‘get to the bottom’ of this undesirable event.
Can sanitary issues cause itchy anus?
Yes! Often times, poor toilet hygiene is the trigger. Allowing remnants of fecal matter or moisture around the anus or perineum creates the ideal environment. While non-ambulant individuals and young children may be incapacitated in this area, much is left to be said about healthy adults who shoddily execute their toilet etiquette.
Also, overzealous hygiene which features vigorous wiping or wiping with hard, irritable materials can also lead to irritation, tear, and itching.
In 2016, Parswa Ansari, MD, explained in the journal, Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, that “The use of soap [in the area around the anus], particularly scented ones [or antiseptic soaps], should be avoided”. In his words, “Warm water alone can be used, and the area should not be scrubbed vigorously during bathing or after toileting.”
Contrary to popular belief, pre-moistened wipes and pads also aren’t your buddies in this regard. Dr. Ansari insists that these materials most likely contain chemicals—like alcohol, witch hazel, and other astringents— which can further irritate already sensitive skin. Also, Ansari recommends using unscented toilet paper dampened with warm water.
What skin conditions cause itchy anus?
Persistent skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema are typical causes of inflammation and itching anywhere on the body, especially around the anus.
Psoriasis— a skin disorder that provokes the skin cells to multiply over and over; up to 10 times faster than normal. It is common to observe the skin build up into bumpy red or silvery patches covered with flaky white scales. Although this can occur anywhere in the body, they are most likely seen around the scalp, elbows, knees, lower back, and anus.
It is responsible for about 5% to 8% of anal itching cases as noted by a colon and rectal surgeons, bestowing to Dr. Ansari.
Dermatologists echo that psoriasis can’t be cured, but can be kept under control by prescribing a brief course of topical steroids and longer-term doses of other topical medications. Other treatment come in the form of coal tar; Apremilat and ultraviolet light therapy may also give a soothing relief.
Eczema – a fairly common skin condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough. In some cases, blisters may occur. According to an article by James McIntosh, reviewed by Justin Choi, M.D. Different stages and types of eczema affect 31.6 percent of people in the United States.
Medically, “eczema” is synonymously used to talk about atopic dermatitis which is the most common type of eczema – this condition can be treated with steroids and other anti-itch ointments or creams.
Lichen sclerosus – another skin condition that can cause anal irritation—especially in women. This irritating condition causes whitish, wrinkled changes to the skin around the labia and in the area around the anus.
This condition might not be life-threatening, still, it’ll take about 6-8weeks of application of topical steroids to soothe these lesions which have been implicated in skin cancer. Conversely, it can be biopsied to check for cancer cells if there is no response to treatment.
How does your clothing cause anal itching?
Anal itching is sometimes linked to tight clothing or materials that are too compressed and don’t breathe well. As we may have observed, sweat can cause irritation anywhere on the body, especially with prolonged exposure. Without being told, this can cause a lot of itching and provoke a yeast infection.
Lest we forget, eczema-like rashes can also be an indicator that we’re allergic to certain clothing materials, dyes, or laundry agents.
If spontaneous itching is not caused by uncomfortable clothing, then it could be sweat and friction from clothing. This is because hair follicles can get inflamed and infected leading to what dermatologists christened folliculitis. This condition appears like tiny red bumps or pimples on the surface of the skin. For ladies, this situation is more common around the vulva.
Can food irritants cause anal itching?
‘You are what you eat‘, is more than a saying to be fit and healthy. It goes to affirm that what you eat can beyond doubt, affect how you feel. If you feel weird after a meal, you might have had an unusual diet, such as one very acidic or spicy.
One experience stands out for me. After a meal made with a particular specie of cocoyam, I had persistent itching. The irritation was unbearable and luckily, the remedy was a dietary adjustment to cancel out the discomfort.
Depending on individual triggers, certain foods associated with anal itching include coffee (both caffeinated and decaf), tea, chocolate, citrus fruit and juices, tomatoes and tomato paste, cola, alcoholic beverages, certain tubers like cocoyam and dairy products.
A variety of foods can contribute to loose stool/diarrhea or anal leakage. When this occurs, thorough cleanliness would be more challenging.
Can parasites cause anal itching?
Pinworms – tiny, annoying irritants. They are clingy, narrow worms, white in color, and less than a half-inch long. Medically, pinworm infections are also referred to as enterobiasis or oxyuriasis. According to CDC, they’re the most common type of human worm infection in the US.
Recently, this human-tormentor worm made the news, when actress, Kristen Bell revealed that both she and her daughter was infected with pinworms after an infestation at her daughter’s preschool.
Pinworms mostly affect babies and young children. Pinworm eggs can live up to two weeks on human skin, clothing, bedding, or food. The commonest route of infection is orifical.
These worms are quite visible in an infected person’s poop. Medics sometimes assess for pinworm eggs using what is termed a “tape test”. For this, a piece of tape is placed on the skin around a baby’s anus and then examined under a high power microscope.
Fortunately, pinworms can be sponged out with merely two doses of oral medication (available over-the-counter or by prescription). These medicaments are usually given two weeks apart to prevent reinfection.
Can haemorrhoids or anal fissures cause itchy anus
Hemorrhoids, also known as a pile, are a real pain in the butt. Here, enlarged blood vessels present as swelling around the anus. Hemorrhoids don’t always present symptoms besides itching so people are less likely to know.
Painfully, it could advance to tiny tears in the surrounding skin tissue (anal fissures). Passing stool also becomes very difficult owing to pain and discomfort. Supposing the condition gets more deplorable, it’s common to spot blood on your toilet paper or a significant amount of blood in your stool.
Consuming more dietary fiber, staying hydrated, seeking medical attention, and focusing on other ways to relieve constipation and soften your stool would come in handy. Over the counter steroids like hydrocortisone cream, anal suppositories and sitz bath can be prescribed by your caregiver.
Other infections that can cause itchy anus
Everyone has perineum. So anybody could be laden with fungal or yeast infection—especially in the elderly, obese, individuals on antibiotics therapy, or people with a compromised immune system.
Bestowing to a publication by Yosef Y.Nasseri MD et al in 2013, yeast infections play a role in 10% to 15% cases of anal itching. They may not be life-threatening but can constitute a nuisance. It is usually treated with anti-fungal powder or lotion and sometimes oral anti-fungal drugs are prescribed by caregivers in severe cases.
That itchy anus can also be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection. For instance, herpes and anal warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Symptoms usually occur around the anus (instead of the vulva) especially, if a person indulges in anal sex.
For herpes, anti-viral medication can bring soothing relief. Remedy for anal warts may necessitate topical creams, cryotherapy, or surgery.
Can scabies cause itchy anus?
Scabies is caused by skin infestation with tiny bugs/mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. If left untreated, these microscopic mites survive for months and reproduce on the skin. This causes irritation and itch. Another remarkable sign is a red rash on the skin.
Scabies usually affects areas with skin folds such as the groin, the armpits, the belly button, and the entire body. Hence, itching restricted to the perianal region or genitals is not equivalent to scabies.
Can chronic diseases cause itchy anus?
Conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune diseases that contribute to inflammation can leave people more vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infections. Also, digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease can provoke diarrhea and stool leakage which in turn irritates the skin around the anus.
Other conditions such as iron-deficiency anemia, kidney or liver disease, and certain types of cancer, can also cause itching throughout the body. Treating the underlying condition is the best way to stop these types of symptoms. Similarly, caregivers sometimes recommend oral or topical medications to relieve itching and swelling.
Can nerve damage cause itchy anus?
With age, the likelihood of lower back injuries increases. Many people experience minor damage to the nerves exiting their spinal cords. This can lead to spasms of pain or a nagging itch around the buttocks and anus. Treatment for this type of nerve damage varies. Although necessarily surgical, some merely include physical therapy or behavior modification.
Can anal cancer cause itchy anus?
A greater portion of patients with Paget’s disease—this is a type of cancer that attacks the surface layer of skin and typically affects the breast, vulva, or perianal area— maintained constant itching as one of their major symptoms.
Similarly, Bowen’s disease – a very early form of skin cancer also called carcinoma in situ – can affect the perianal area and cause significant itching. It is worthy of note that these conditions are extremely rare. However, Dr. Ansari in his 2016 paper stated that clinicians should know how to recognize them “so that anal biopsies are performed when appropriate, and treatment is not delayed.”
The causes of anal itching are far-reaching. Consequently, if poor hygiene is not the culprit, talking to your primary care doctor is always a good option. You may also consult or be referred to a dermatologist or a gastroenterologist for further probe.
There is no shame in seeking professional help. A cure is always in sight as soon as the trigger is identified. Was this post useful? Please share or subscribe for more interesting posts or contact us.