Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Prevention of anal itching mainly involves washing properly, keeping the area clean, cool and dry, and avoiding irritants. If you already have anal itching, try these self-care measures:

  • Cleanse gently. After bowel movements, clean the area with plain water or mild soap. It may help to use moist cotton balls or a small squeeze bottle of water. Don't scrub. The goal is to keep the area clean without further irritating the skin.

    When traveling by air, take an empty squeeze bottle that you can readily fill with water in bathrooms.

  • Dry thoroughly. After cleansing, pat the area dry with toilet paper or a towel. Or use a hair dryer set on low. Unmedicated talcum can help keep the area dry. Avoid cornstarch powder, which can foster bacterial growth. You could place a moistened or dry cotton ball against the anus to help absorb moisture. Replace it as needed.
  • Don't scratch. Scratching further irritates your skin and leads to persistent inflammation. You may find some relief by applying a cold compress to the area or taking a lukewarm bath. Trim your nails short and wear cotton gloves while you're sleeping to help prevent scratching.
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing. This helps keep the area dry. Avoid wearing pantyhose and other tightfitting garments because these can trap moisture.
  • Avoid irritants. Avoid bubble baths, genital deodorants, perfumed soaps, moist wipes, witch hazel products and other items that might irritate the anal area. Cut back on or avoid coffee, cola, alcohol, citrus fruits, chocolate, spicy foods, tomatoes and foods that may cause diarrhea. Avoid overuse of laxatives.
  • Apply ointments or gels. Protect your skin from moisture by applying a thin layer of a zinc oxide ointment (Desitin, Balmex) or petroleum jelly. You could also use a 1 percent corticosteroid cream (Cortaid, Preparation H Anti-Itch Cream) two or three times a day to relieve itching. But don't use this type of cream for more than two weeks because of possible side effects, such as thinning of the skin.
  • Maintain regular, firm bowel movements. If soft stools or frequent bowel movements are a problem, gradually adding fiber to your diet may help. Fiber supplements, such a Metamucil or Citrucel, also may help.
Oct. 09, 2015