When you watch hospital dramas on TV you get this impression of the medical world being this dramatic place where love and life are in constant peril. This is not the case in reality. If they made a TV show about the mundane things most people go to the doctor for no one would want to watch it. In fact, it’s part of the joke in shows like House where Dr. House is punished by clinic duty.
That being said, let’s talk about pruritus ani, a rare and exotic disease caused by a river parasite in the Himalayas. OK, so that’s a lie. It’s just a fancy term for anal itching. If that’s not obvious enough, anal itching is when the skin around your anus (perianal skin) becomes intensely itchy. And now you have to go to work constantly repressing the urge to scratch your bum. If you’re reading this, you may be one of the 1-5% of the population that anal itching effects, and you’re four times as likely to be a man.
There are two types of anal itching. Primary, where there is no definitive cause, and secondary, where anal itching is the symptom of an underlying medical issue. Some of the myriad of potential causes include:
– Skin tags
– Poor hygiene (residual fecal matter)
– Anal fistulas
– Anal fissures
– Anal warts
– Repetitive scratching/trauma/irritation
– Medication (e.g.antibiotics)
– Skin conditions like psoriasis
– Psychosomatic; your own mind tricking you into thinking you have anal itching (i.e. anxiety, schizophrenia, etc)
Here are some ways to manage the symptoms. Just keep in mind that, if anal itching is a symptom of an underlying disease, merely treating the symptoms may not actually fix the cause of anal itching.
– Cleaning the anus by using a wet unscented wipe or toilet paper or washcloth.
– Avoid scrubbing.
– Avoid medicated powders, lotion, soaps, and sprays.
– Do not wear clothing that is too tight, too often.
– DO NOT ITCH. Just don’t. Wear mitten to sleep.
– Do Sitz Bath with warm water
– May take Benedry for a few nights
Most of the time, as long as you follow these steps itching should go away on it’s own, unless of course, you have an underlying condition that is causing the itching such as hemorrhoids or a fistula.
If the anal itching is associated with any type of rash, lump, discharge, bleeding, or fever, call your doctor.