There may not be an explanation for why you’re suffering from anal itching, a medical condition known as pruritus ani. In many cases, though, there are possible contributors that respond to self-care. If you can’t clear up these symptoms yourself, it may be time to see a specialist.
In the Denver metropolitan area, visit Colorado Colon & Rectal Specialists for diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Lisa Perryman and her team will pinpoint primary or secondary types of anal itching to find the best path to relief.
Types of anal itching
The most common type of pruritus ani is idiopathic, meaning there’s no obvious cause for the itching, or several factors may be contributing without a dominant factor. This is primary anal itching.
Secondary pruritus ani has many potential causes. It can be a result of certain systemic diseases, infections, or a wide range of dermatological conditions.
It’s common for anal itching to be worse at night. One problem with overnight itching is that you may scratch in your sleep. Short term, this may provide relief, but fingers and nails tend to further damage the sensitive skin around the anus.
Scratching perpetuates the anal itching problem, since the skin in the area has little chance to heal. You may enter a spiraling cycle that leads to increased discomfort, pain, and burning that may become a problem through the day as well as at night.
Causes of anal itching
The skin around the anus is sensitive. It doesn’t take much to irritate or inflame this skin. Something as simple as changing soaps or toilet tissue brands could create a mild allergic reaction that leads to nighttime itching.
Your diet is another potential source of skin irritation. Foods and drinks that may contribute to anal itching include:
- Acidic foods like citrus fruit or tomatoes and tomato products
- Caffeinated drinks including coffee, cola, and tea
- Carbonated beverages
- Dairy products
- Spicy foods like hot peppers and raw garlic
Clothing that traps heat and moisture can also irritate the skin around the anus. Choose loose fitting, natural fibers when attempting to ease your itching symptoms.
Secondary pruritus ani appears as a side effect of another condition or illness. Some of these include:
- Anal fissures: tears in the skin of the anus and anal canal
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Hemorrhoids: enlarged and swollen tissue of the anus or rectum
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): a source of infection and warts affecting the anal area
- Pinworms: also called threadworms, these are intestinal parasites that lay eggs around the anus
- Yeast infections: urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Some of these causes are intertwined. For example, constipation may lead to hemorrhoids, and together they contribute to anal itching.
The initial treatment for anal itching usually focuses on appropriate anal hygiene. The skin in the region responds to both too little or too much cleaning. Treating the cause of a condition causing secondary pruritus ani usually eases itching symptoms. Topical medications can also be prescribed, and when applied to the affected area activate natural substances in the skin to reduce swelling, redness, and itching.
When symptoms don’t improve, get worse, or anal bleeding starts, contact Colorado Colon & Rectal Specialists in Parker, Colorado, by phone or online today to schedule a consultation.