Several over-the-counter and prescription creams, ointments, gels, and suppositories can be found for relieving perianal itching, which is also known as pruritus ani. Find out more about this condition, and its causes and treatment, in this HealthHearty write-up.
Pruritus ani is the medical term for anal itching or itching and irritation of the perianal area. Along with itching, one can also feel a burning sensation. Severe pruritus ani can also cause soreness in the perianal area, especially if the area is scratched frequently. It can have numerous causes, some of which can be quite minor and alleviated with some simple measures. However sometimes, anal itching can be a sign of certain underlying health conditions.
Anal pruritus is usually caused by the presence of excess moisture around the perianal area. This can provide a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria and fungus, which can cause itching and skin irritation. Sometimes, mechanical irritation, such as rubbing the area vigorously with toilet paper can also cause itching and irritation. Other common causes include, diarrhea, anal fissures, constipation, flexural psoriasis, and perianal warts.
Sometimes, the itching near or around the perianal area can be caused by hemorrhoids, chemical irritation (caused by the excessive use of soaps and scented toilet paper for cleaning that area), and the consumption of certain food and beverages, like coffee, tea, ketchups, spicy food, alcohol, cheese, nuts, shellfish, tomato products, chocolates, and prawns. Apart from these, some other possible causes are, intestinal parasites like, pinworms and threadworms, overuse of laxatives, bowel incontinence, fistulas, and psoriasis.
Treatment and Prevention
The anal area should be kept clean and dry to prevent this condition. Care must be taken that the area is not exposed to excess moisture. After having a bowel movement, the perianal area should be cleaned gently with a moist pad. Rubbing the area vigorously with dry toilet paper should be avoided to prevent further irritation. After cleaning the area, it should be dried with a soft toilet paper. To keep the anal area dry, you can place a gauze pad in between the buttocks in such a way that it touches the perianal area. This can help reduce itching and irritation.
Anal itching can be quite annoying at times. There are several over-the-counter and prescription medications available in the form of creams, gels, ointments, pads, and suppositories for treating this condition. Sometimes, local anesthetics are given to provide temporary relief, but these medications should not be used for a long time. If swelling is present along with itching, then vasoconstrictors can be applied. They can help reduce the pain and itching as well.
Many of the creams and ointments that are used for treating this condition contain protectants, which form a barrier on the skin of the perianal area to prevent its contact with substances that can cause irritation. Examples of protectants include, aluminum hydroxide gel, lanolin, kaolin, glycerin, petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and zinc oxide. Apart from these, astringents like calamine, witch hazel, and zinc oxide, analgesics like, menthol and camphor, antiseptics, and topical corticosteroids are also used for treating this condition.
However, corticosteroids should not be used for a long time, as these medications can cause some side effects. The long-term use of topical corticosteroids can damage the skin. Local anesthetics can also cause allergic reactions in some individuals, which can manifest in itching and a burning sensation. One should immediately discontinue the use of local anesthetics, if the symptoms worsen after their application. It is always better to talk to a physician before using any kind of medications. This will also help find out and address the underlying conditions that can be associated with anal itching.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.