Anal Itching: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Anal itching can be caused by allergic reactions, hemorrhoids, and other medical conditions. But most causes are not serious. Spicy foods, citrus fruit, caffeine, and alcohol can irritate the anal area and cause itching. Not cleaning the anal area well—or cleaning it too well by rubbing hard—also can cause itching.

Treatment at home can help ease itching.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • After bowel movements, clean the area gently with a warm washcloth or a towelette, such as a baby wipe. Do not use products that contain alcohol.
  • If your doctor prescribes a cream or ointment, use it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Avoid strong soaps that contain fragrance.
  • Do not use scented or colored toilet paper.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Use zinc oxide, petroleum jelly, or 1% hydrocortisone cream on the area. Do not use anesthetic products with "-caine" at the end of the name without talking with your doctor first. Some people may be allergic to these products.
  • Keep a food diary of what you eat. Certain foods may irritate your anal area after a bowel movement.
  • Wear cotton underwear. Avoid pantyhose or other tight clothes.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • You have new or worse bleeding from the rectum.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have trouble passing stools.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.