URL of this page: //www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000689.htm

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 Your Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider if you have:

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

Also, call your provider if self-care does not help within 2 or 3 weeks.

Alternative Names

Pruritus ani - self-care


Nasseri YY, Osborne MC. Pruritus ani: diagnosis and treatment. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2013;42:801-813. PMID: 24280401 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24280401.

Weichert G. Pruritus ani. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 199.

Update Date 4/11/2015

Related MedlinePlus Health Topics