Itching around the anal area, called pruritus ani, is a common condition. It results in an irresistible urge to scratch. It may be most noticeable and bothersome at night or after a bowel movement.
Several factors may be at fault. A common cause is excessive cleaning of the anal area. Moisture around the anus, from excessive sweating or from moist, sticky stools is another possible cause. In some people, a loose and/or irritating stool may be caused by a high intake of liquids. In addition, drinking certain beverages, including some alcoholic beverages-especially beer-milk, citrus fruit juices and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, may be aggravating for some people. Similarly, some foods that may be a problem include chocolate, fruits, tomatoes, nuts and popcorn.
Treatment of pruritus ani is based on at the care of the skin and determination of the underlying cause. After gently cleansing the skin and patting it (it is important to make sure the skin is dry), apply the ointment recommended by your doctor. Then place a wisp of rolled cotton between the cheeks to absorb moisture.
Most people experience some relief from itching within a week. A complete cure comes within four to six weeks. A follow up appointment with your colon and rectal surgeon may be recommended to prevent recurrence of pruritus ani.