Q. I have been experiencing an embarrassing anal itch for two months. My physician doesn’t seem interested beyond prescribing lotions that don’t do much after the first few minutes.
I tried sponging the area with Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, which seems to help with the burning itch that kept me awake at night. I am also wondering whether a bidet might help.
A. Diagnosing anal itching (pruritus ani) can be challenging. There are many potential causes, including hemorrhoids, pinworms, yeast infections or contact dermatitis. Toilet paper or pre-moistened wipes may contribute.
One reader offered this story about an embarrassing itch in a sensitive area:
“My anal itching worsened for months despite everything I tried to make it better. At its worst, it looked like I’d sat on flaming charcoal. It woke me during the night, so I was a walking zombie at my new job, and I almost dozed off while I was driving.
“I found an article in JAMA Dermatology (June 21, 2010) showing that many moist towelettes contain preservatives that can trigger allergic itching. I stopped using them ten days ago and my skin is healing fast. I’m furious that these products contain a known allergen! What I was using to help soothe the area was making everything worse.”
Cleaning with warm water from a bidet is popular in Europe and Japan. Toilets can be retrofitted with such affordable plumbing devices.