Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pruritus Ani

What is Pruritus Ani?
Pruritus Ani, also known as itchy bottom or anal itching, describes a persistent irritation in the anal region causing a strong urge to scratch the area. The itch can be so severe so as to cause sleep problems. The more the irritated area is scratched, the worse the symptoms get. This condition can occur in anyone, but is most common in people between 40 and 60 years old. Symptoms are strongest after using the toilet and at night.
Causes of Pruritus Ani
Pruritus Ani is not a diagnosis but rather a symptom. Its underlying causes can be many and sometimes no cause is identified - in this case the condition is called idiopathic pruritus ani. Possible causes are:
  • Eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions
  • Irritation by soap, detergents, colored toilet paper, etc...
  • Excessive moisture in the area, such as from excessive sweating
  • Dry skin, as tends to happen in older persons
  • Fungal or bacterial infections
  • Laxative abuse - these can irritate the anus
  • Threadworms - these cause itching mostly at night
  • Damage to the area, for example due to excessive cleaning
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures and anal abrasions
  • Anal tumors
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Irritants in food and beverages. Common examples are coffee, tea, beer, dairy products, tomato products, chocolate, nuts
Pruritus Ani Treatment
Treatment of itchy bottom will depend on the cause. If the cause is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be used. If the cause is hemorroids, specific creams will be used, and so on. However, some advice is applicable to all cases. In particular, the area needs to be kept clean and dry as much as possible, to prevent further irritation and infection. You should wash your anus after passing faeces and before going to bed. After showering, dry with a hair dryer or a soft towel (pat, don't rub). Avoid scented soaps as these can cause irritation. If you tend to sweat a lot during the day, use a tissue in your underwear. Avoid or limit the foods mentioned above. Try not to scratch but if you find yourself scratching anyway, make sure you cut your nails as much as possible to lessen the damage.
You should always consult with your doctor if itching is persistent. You may be prescribed creams and medications to bring down the inflammation - always use these exactly as recommended by the doctor. Seek urgent medical advice if in addition to itching you also have bleeding or lumps.
Pruritus Ani should not be taken lightly and a visit to the doctor is highly recommended.

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