Anal Itching or Burning: Causes & Treatment

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Anal itching and burning are uncomfortable symptoms of several different causes or conditions. It can be painful and interfere with work or daily activities. It occurs in up to 5% of the population, affects men more than women, and is more commonly found in ages 40 to 60.

This article discusses anal burning and itching causes, treatment, and prevention. It also will cover the symptoms and treatment options available.

Man heading to the bathroom with toilet paper

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Common Causes

There are several causes of anal burning and itching. Here are common causes and information about each one.

Hemorrhoids (Piles)

Hemorrhoids, sometimes called piles, are a common condition. Approximately 50% of men and women will develop hemorrhoids by the time they are 50 years old.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. They can develop on the inside of the anus or the outside, around the anus. Hemorrhoids develop when there is too much pressure on the veins.

Hemorrhoid symptoms include pain, itching, burning, blood in the stool, and hard lumps around the anus.

Anyone can get hemorrhoids, but certain risk factors put a person at a greater risk. Here are the risk factors for hemorrhoids:

  • Pregnancy
  • Straining from heavy lifting
  • Sitting on the toilet for long periods
  • Family history of hemorrhoids
  • Long-term diarrhea or constipation
  • A person affected by obesity


Sometimes the cause of burning and itching in and around the anus is caused by stool. After a bowel movement, if the stool isn't completely removed, it can irritate the skin.

For some people, liquid stool leaks out of the anus and causes burning and itching. This can happen in healthy people who drink a considerable amount of liquids.

Using toilet paper to remove stool isn't always effective. The toilet paper can spread the stool over the anus and surrounding skin. Instead, use toilet paper wettened with water to clean the anal area after a bowel movement.


A person's diet can cause anal burning and itching. The foods and drinks that tend to cause these symptoms include:

It takes 24 to 36 hours for food to move through the digestive tract. As a result, it will take that long after eating or drinking something for it to cause anal burning or itching.

Anal Fissures

Anal fissures are tears, sores, or cracks in the anus. It happens when the anus is stretched past its capacity, usually because of hard constipated stool, and tears. Once an anal fissure starts it is prone to reinjury.

The symptoms associated with anal fissures are pain, burning, blood in the stool, and a cut or tear in the anus.

The greatest risk factor for developing an anal fissure is constipation. Hard, dry stool passing through the rectum and anus can stretch the skin too far and cause a tear. Other risk factors are:

  • Low fiber diet
  • Vaginal childbirth
  • Diarrhea
  • Anal trauma
  • Inflammation in the anus
  • Surgery in the anal area

Chemicals and Medications

The anal skin area is sensitive and can easily be injured. Using harsh chemicals and medications in the anal area can cause skin irritation and reactions. These irritants can include:

  • Scented soap and lotion
  • Dyes and perfumes in toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene sprays and deodorants
  • Medicated talcum powders
  • Perianal wipes that contain alcohol or astringents

Before using any over-the-counter (OTC) cream or lotion talk, to a healthcare provider. It can cause further anal irritation, burning, and itching.

Excessive Cleaning

One common cause of anal burning and itching is excessive anal cleaning. This tends to happen to people who feel unclean after a bowel movement and excessively wipe themselves. The vigorous scrubbing and use of medicated wipes irritate the anal area causing skin damage and removing the skin's natural barriers.

With the new burning and itching symptoms, some people begin to wipe and clean themselves even more, which creates a vicious cycle of skin irritation and excessive wiping.

Skin Conditions

Psoriasis and eczema are two skin conditions that can cause itching and burning around the anus.

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes scaly patches on the skin. According to a 2016 study, 5% to 8% of people who went to their colon and rectal surgeon with rectal itching had psoriasis.

Eczema is a type of dermatitis that is caused by an allergic response. People with eczema may have dry, scaly skin that itches and burns. It can be caused by various allergens like soaps, lotions, and environmental factors.


Anal burning and itching are caused by various conditions and causes. They are often accompanied by other symptoms:


Anal itching and burning are diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on health history and symptom description. A rectal exam may be necessary to check for specific causes like hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

Skin scrapings can be sent for evaluation if fungal infection is suspected.


Treatment for anal itching and burning should focus on treating the underlying cause. Sometimes when the cause is not found, treating the symptoms becomes the focus.

Here are some of the common treatments for anal itching and burning:

  • Clean the anal area will warm water and pat dry. Avoid rubbing to prevent skin irritation.
  • Use a protective barrier like Vaseline or zinc oxide. This will protect the skin from stool irritation.
  • Hydrocortisone cream can alleviate itching but shouldn't be used for the long term.
  • Wear loose cotton underwear
  • Correct any problems with passing a bowel movement

It's time to see a healthcare provider when self-care techniques do not resolve anal burning and itching. See a healthcare provider if there is a lump or rash around the anus, a fever, or any bleeding or discharge.


While not every case of anal burning and itching can be prevented, several prevention techniques can help decrease the chances of developing these symptoms:

  • Avoid using scented soaps or lotions.
  • Use a bidet or squirt bottle to clean the perianal area.
  • Avoid scratching.
  • Don't use prepared wipes or witch hazel pads.
  • Only clean the anal area with warm water (can use moistened toilet paper and pat dry). Avoid rubbing the area to prevent skin irritation.


Anal burning and itching are symptoms that can be caused by several different conditions or sources. Once the cause is found, it can be removed, and treatment can begin. If the cause is unknown, treatment focuses on reducing the burning and itching as much as possible.

Many times anal burning and itching can be prevented. Avoid over-cleaning the anal area and correct any digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea.

A Word From Verywell

Anal burning and itching can be a hard topic to bring up to your healthcare provider. However, it's important to know that your healthcare provider has heard it all, and alerting them to your symptoms will help you get a prompt diagnosis and the right treatment plan.

Make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have any underlying skin conditions or sensitivities. This information will help guide their diagnosis and get you feeling back to normal faster.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why does my anus burn at night?

    Anal burning at night might be more noticeable since it is quiet and there are fewer distractions. It could be caused by the activities that precede sleep, like going to the bathroom or bathing.

  • Is Vaseline good for anus irritation?

    Yes, Vaseline is good to use for anus irritation. The Vaseline will act as a barrier between the skin and stool to prevent further irritation. It also will moisturize dry skin and aid in healing.

  • Can you get a bacterial infection in your anus?

    Yes, you can get a bacterial infection in your anus. An infection could be caused by an anal fissure (skin tear) that allows bacteria to enter the skin. Any signs of swelling, redness, fever, or feeling unwell should be reported to a healthcare provider.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hemorrhoids.

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Anal itch (pruritus ani).

  4. MUSC Health. Anal itching.

  5. Ansari P. Pruritus aniClin Colon Rectal Surg. 2016;29(1):38-42. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1570391

  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Anal fissures.

  7. Michigan Medicine. Managing perianal itching (pruritus ani).

  8. Department of General Surgery, Kanuni Training and Research Hospital, Trabzon, Turkey, Karapolat B. Could local antibiotics be included in the treatment of acute anal fissure? Turk J Surg. 2018;3(4):286-289. doi:10.5152/turkjsurg.2018.3988

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.