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DocSpot: Anal itching

We asked you to tell us about your experiences and how you deal with the embarrassing problem of anal itching. This really does seem to be a very common and distressing problem.

My itchy bottom is driving me crazy. I've had it on and off for 15 years, and tried everything you suggest on your site – including the banana skin, once! It's worse at night but can be bad in the day too.
Itching worse at night is typical, and of course is very distressing because it disturbs sleep. The banana skin idea came from readers’ feedback to Dr Le Fanu’s column in the Daily Telegraph. Has anyone else tried it, and if so, did it work?
Last night, as usual, I went to bed scratching, woke up at 1 and then at 4, scratching – grim. The skin is blistered and has often bled from my disgusting scratching habit but my doctor doesn't think piles is the problem.
As you obviously realize, scratching is the worst thing you can do if you have anal itching. But stopping is not easy, especially as you can scratch when you are only half-awake. Good idea to talk to a doctor, as this is obviously a really troubling problem.
Last time I saw her, I had an outbreak of spots on my bottom, lower back and legs, and she said it seemed to be a particularly bad case of candidiasis and prescribed an antifungal cream and antibiotics. The spots have gone but itching remains.
Fungal infections, similar to thrush or athlete’s foot, can cause anal itching, so an antifungal treatment is worth a try. But don’t keep using it for a long period, as you can become sensitized to the cream and it may actually make the itching worse. If there is no improvement after 2 weeks, stop the antifungal cream.
People probably think I am a happy person but several things are weighing me down and I am now relating my scratching with having anxious thoughts. Could this be possible? I've tried meditating but find it very hard to switch off for a sustained period. A few years ago, after a walking holiday, the itching went away completely – any suggestions to break the cycle?
We all know that our emotional state has a huge effect on our bodies – this is part of being human. For instance, many of us get spots when we are stressed, or diarrhoea. Scratching could be a way of relieving tension, and it is interesting that an active holiday, where both body and mind were given a change, had benefit.
Washing with aqueous cream, also prescribed, seems to help a bit or at least keep the skin in better shape.
Be sure to dry the area carefully after washing. And don’t wash too much – once or twice a day is quite enough.
In recent years it does seem to coincide with beer drinking and white bread eating, so I'm assuming it's a yeast-based problem.
I think a more likely explanation is that the beer and bread are loosening the faeces and this may be increasing the irritation slightly. There is no evidence at all that yeast used to make beer and bread has such an effect. Of course, spicy foods can cause anal discomfort.
Last night my anal itching woke me up and I went downstairs and found a book about the uses of vinegar. I have lots of sore spots on my bottom and down my legs that I have managed not to pick and someone suggested my problem might be shingles, whatever that is. Anyway, it said in this book under shingles: “Dab undiluted vinegar on the affected area. This will help relive the pain and itching. Do this several times at again at night if kept awake by the discomfort.” Is this worth a try?
I think you said the problem had been going on for years. Shingles clears up in a few weeks. Anyway, your doctor would have recognized shingles when she examined you. I don’t know if vinegar will help, but I don’t think it would be harmful. Obviously, you should stop if it makes it worse.
 Dr Phil Hammond expands on anal itching in his Expert guide to Anal itching video

Last updated; Thursday, June 10th 2010 at 6:15 am

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