There are several causes of anal itching which in most cases is just a symptom of something else. The best approach would be to establish the source. If not addressed in time, continuous itchiness of the anus may cause infection in the area, embarrassing and uncomfortable incidents as well as interfere with one’s self-esteem.
We had an interview with Pete Gottschalk, owner of Pranicura – pruritus ani ointment, and he mentioned some self-care measures that would help alleviate or stop the itchiness.
Improve General Hygiene
Some of the cases that lead to anal itching are as a result of compromised hygiene. Wash underwears with mild detergents and soaps. Ensure you dry your panties and boxers where there is free circulation of air and make sure they are parched before wearing.
As obvious as this sounds, wash the area well preferably with plain water after bowel movements. Avoid soaps as they may interfere with the pH levels of the anal area. Moist cotton balls or small squeeze bottle water will also help make cleaning more comfortable, even when traveling. Do not scrub.
Once clean, dry the area thoroughly with a clean towel or a tissue paper. A dry cotton ball or moistened placed against the anus will help absorb the moisture. You need to replace it as necessary to maintain a high level of cleanliness.
Avoid Scratching and Touching Your Anus
While the only thing that seems to provide the much-needed relief is scratching, it will irritate the skin further and cause inflammation. A lukewarm bath or applying a cold compress will help. To keep you from scratching while sleeping, wear cotton gloves.
Keep nails short and clean. In case you forget and scratch, short clean nails prevent you from infecting the area and further irritation.
Check Out for Irritants
Several things may irritate one person while not affecting another. These are things like cola, coffee, spices, chocolate, tomatoes, alcohol, citrus fruits, or anything that may cause diarrhea. Cut back on such whenever you experience an irritable anus.
Since the anus area is susceptible, any change in the PH balance may lead to itchiness. Avoid products like genital deodorants, perfumed soaps, moist wipes, witch hazel products, bubble baths, and other possible anal irritants. Also, avoid excess use of laxatives.
Cotton under wears keeps the anal area dry which is highly recommended. Avoid tight-fitting garments and pantyhose as they trap in moisture. Ensure the garments are clean and completely dry as well.
Firm Regular Bowel Movements
Hard stools irritate the passage leading to itchiness of the anus. To get frequent and soft bowel movements, watch your diet and keep yourself well hydrated. Add foods rich in fiber in your diet, and in some cases, supplements like Citrucel or Metamucil may help.
Ointments or Gels
Extreme irritation is very uncomfortable and may need remedies that bring quick relief. Application of a thin layer of zinc oxide ointment like Balmex or Desitin can help alleviate the irritation by protecting your skin from moisture. In some cases, petroleum jelly will suffice. Corticosteroid cream like Cortaid, used two to three times a day also relieves the itchiness. However, the use of such creams should not exceed two weeks as they may cause thinning of the skin.
Seek Doctor’s Advice
Most cases of anal itching are easily treatable and manageable conditions like scabies, lice infestation, acidic food, or hookworms among others. That said, one should book a doctor’s appointment to rule out life-threatening diseases like anal cancer.