published Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Ask a Doctor

By Dr. Shana Lorenzo-Rivero

Q: Why does my anus itch, and how can I prevent it?

A: Anal itching is a common condition called pruritus ani, which results in an irresistible urge to scratch. It may be most noticeable and bothersome at night or after bowel movements. Cleanliness is almost never a factor. In fact, a common cause is excessive cleaning of the area. Other causes include excessive moisture, certain beverages, including some alcoholic beverages, milk, citrus juices and drinks containing caffeine and foods such as chocolate, fruits, tomatoes, nuts and popcorn. Rare causes include pinworms, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal infections and allergies. Treatments may include not using soap of any kind on the anal area and not scrubbing the area with anything, even toilet paper. For hygiene, use wet toilet paper, baby wipes or a wet washcloth to blot the area clean. Never rub. Try not to scratch the itchy area. Scratching produces more damage and makes the itching worse. Apply either a few wisps of cotton, 4-by-4 gauze or some cornstarch powder to keep the area dry. Avoid all medicated, perfumed and deodorant powders and use only medications prescribed by your physician. Most people experience relief from itching within a week. Complete cure usually comes within four to six weeks. If not, consult your physician.

— Dr. Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero, University

Surgical Associates; member,

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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