“Pruritus ani, or chronic itching of the anus, affects both men and women in around 5% of the world’s population”

Causes of Pruritus Ani

There are many possible causes of pruritus ani. These include:

  • Inadequate anal hygiene
  • Overzealous hygiene
  • Diet
  • Infections
  • Skin conditions and,
  • Medical diseases

Inadequate as well as excessive anal hygiene are common causes of pruritus ani, both causing irritation of the perianal skin, stimulating an urge to scratch.

Certain foods such as coffee, chocolate and tea are known to weaken the anal muscle’s resting pressure, allowing stool to leak out.

Anal itching is also a symptom of various medical conditions including haemorrhoids, anal fistulae, dermatitis, skin infections, diabetes and certain local cancers


There are various ways to treat pruritus ani depending on the diagnosis. These include

  • Good anal hygiene practises
  • Using plain water to clean the area
  • Using a topical anti-fungal steroid cream
  • Using only alcohol- and fragrance-free soaps and disposable wipes
  • Avoiding skin trauma through scratching or using dry toilet paper
  • Bowel medications to thicken the stool to help minimise leakage
  • Avoiding foods that cause anal itching.

This simple advice should help you put an end to this annoying and embarrassing problem. Of course, if symptoms persist, you should consult a qualified healthcare professional