What is Pruritus Ani?

Treatment in the Kansas City area

Pruritus ani is the when the skin at the exit of the rectum (anus) becomes irritated, causing an uncomfortable amount of itchiness. The intensity of the itchiness increases with added moisture, pressure, and/or rubbing caused by motion or clothing. At its worst, pruritus ani causes discomfort at an intolerable level that is often accompanied by burning and/or soreness. It’s estimated that up to 5% of the population of the United States experiences this type of discomfort on a daily basis.

Causes of Pruritus Ani

The causes of anal irritation can stem from several factors:

  • Diarrhea
  • Anal perspiration
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Frequent liquid stools
  • Residual stool deposits
  • Incontinence or flatulence leading to an escape of small amounts of fecal matter
  • Yeast infection aka candidiasis.

Psoriasis also can be present in the anal area and cause irritation. Other problems that can contribute to anal itching include pinworms, hemorrhoids, tears of the anal skin near the mucocutaneous junction (fissures), and skin tags (abnormal local growth of anal skin). Aside from diseases relative to the condition, a common view suggests that the initial cause of the itch may have passed and that the illness is in fact prolonged by what is known as an itch-scratch-itch cycle. It states that scratching the itch encourages the release of inflammatory chemicals, which worsen redness, intensifies itchiness and increases the area covered by dry skin, thereby causing a snowball effect.

Psychological factors may also contribute to the awareness of itching.

Pruritus Ani Treatments in Kansas City

Treatment of pruritus ani typically begins with measures to reduce irritation and trauma to the anal area. Stool softeners can help prevent constipation. Topical steroids or injected methylene blue may be tried if stool softeners alone are not enough.

In some cases, especially where the snowball effect is a factor, pruritus ani can be effectively treated by simply keeping the area clean with water and patting it dry whenever the urge to itch is felt. If the urge to scratch the area is still present, your doctor may recommend applying a steroid cream with antibiotics and antifungal properties to treat infected skin. Continue to clean and dry the infected anal area after each bowel movement and at night until itchiness symptoms subside.

Another treatment option that has been met with success in small-scale trials is the application of a very mild topical capsaicin cream. This strength cream is not typically commercially available and therefore must be diluted by a pharmacist or end-user. If the itchiness is secondary to another condition such as infection or psoriasis, these are typically treated.

In the instance of long-lasting symptoms, especially in patients 50 years of age or over, a colonoscopy may be prescribed since pruritus ani is one of the first symptoms of colonic polyps and tumors.

Call one of our specialists at Colorectal Surgical Associates, PC at (816) 941-0800 to schedule a consultation to seek treatment for Pruritus Ani. We have four locations across the Kansas City area for your convenience.