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Patient Information

Pruritus ani is intense, chronic itching in the area around the anus. It’s a relatively common condition, but it can be uncomfortable and cause embarrassment.

WakeMed’s gastroenterology and colorectal surgery teams are experts in treating this condition. We can help determine the underlying cause, and then provide effective treatment.

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What Are the Symptoms and Risk Factors of Pruritus Ani?

The main symptom is severe and persistent anal itching. Pruritus ani can also present with redness and burning.

Sometimes, the cause of pruritus ani is environmental, such as using irritants like harsh soaps or wipes, or by wiping too aggressively. Other times, it can be caused by frequent fecal exposure, as in cases where a patient experiences chronic diarrhea or fecal incontinence.

Infections and skin conditions can also cause pruritus ani, as well as medical conditions including hemorrhoids, anal tumors, diabetes, and thyroid disease.

How Is Pruritus Ani Diagnosed?

Typically, a doctor can diagnose pruritus ani through a simple visual examination and discussion of symptoms. A digital rectal examination may also be performed, in which the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities.  

How Is Pruritus Ani Treated?

Treating pruritus ani involves treating the underlying cause. Anti-itch cream can be effective, as well as treating hemorrhoids or infections. Patients are encouraged to cleanse with gentle cleaners, avoid scrubbing and scratching, and to keep the area dry.

It can be dietary related, so it’s advisable to keep a food diary to look for instigators. If all else fails, perianal injection of methylene blue can sometimes be effective.