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Anal itching - self-care

Anal itching occurs when the skin around your anus becomes irritated. You may feel intense itching around and just inside the anus.


Anal itching may be caused by:

  • Spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and other irritating foods and beverages
  • Scents or dyes in toilet paper or soap
  • Diarrhea
  • Hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in or around your anus
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Yeast infections
  • Parasites, such as pinworms, which more commonly occur in children

Self-care at home

To treat anal itching at home, you should keep the area as clean and dry as possible.

  • Clean the anus gently after bowel movements, without scrubbing. Use a squeeze bottle of water, unscented baby wipes, a wet washcloth, or wet unscented toilet paper.
  • Avoid soaps with dyes or fragrances.
  • Pat dry with a clean, soft towel or unscented toilet paper. Do not rub the area.
  • Try over-the-counter creams, ointments, or gels with hydrocortisone or zinc oxide, made to soothe anal itching. Be sure to follow the directions for use on the package.
  • Wear loose clothing and cotton underwear to help keep the area dry.
  • Try not to scratch the area. This can cause swelling and irritation, and make itching worse.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that can cause loose stools or irritate the skin around the anus. This includes spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Use fiber supplements, if needed, to help you have regular bowel movements.

When to call the doctor

You should call your doctor if you have:

  • A rash or lump in or around the anus
  • Bleeding or discharge from the anus
  • Fever

Also, call your doctor if self-care doesn't help within 2 or 3 weeks.

Alternate Names

Pruritus ani - self-care


James WD, Berger TG, Elston, DM. Pruritus and neurocutaneous dermatoses. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM.Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology.

Marcello PW. Diseases of the anorectum. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ.Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease.

Update Date 6/9/2013

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