Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Super Sleuthing Is Needed to Reveal Source and Possible Solutions of Embarrassing Itch

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.

Rate this article
4.9- 7 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.