Do you have an itchy anus without any particular cause? It could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

An itchy anus can be uncomfortable! It is a common problem and one of the most common causes of it is sex. Many people may experience itchiness after getting intimate with their partners. Itchy anus could also be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or sexually transmitted disease (STD). These are infections that spread mainly through sexual contact. These infections can cause anal itching. It is a common symptom of various STIs, including herpes, gonorrhoea, warts, and crabs. However, there are several other causes of itchy anus that are unrelated to sexually transmitted infections. Here are all the causes of itchy anus and ways to prevent it.

Do STIs or STDs cause an itchy anus?

Several STIs or STDs can cause an itchy anus. Here are some of the causes of STIs that can lead to itchiness in the rectum, as explained by gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Pooja C Thukral.

1. Anal Herpes

It is caused by one of two herpes simplex viruses, according to a study published in the Disease of the Colon and Rectum Journal, It is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. Anal herpes infection leads to skin irritation and tiny blisters in the vaginal and anal areas. Blisters form in bunches and can rupture open. The symptoms of anal herpes include:

  • Itching in the anal region
  • Small blisters on the genitals and anus
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Penile discharge
Anal herpes is another cause of an itchy anus. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by infection with the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can be transmitted through nearly any sexual contact, including anal intercourse, as found in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Common symptoms of gonorrhoea include:

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  • Rectal bleeding
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain during urination
  • Sore throat
  • Itchiness in the genital and anal area.

3. Anal warts

Anal warts are genital warts that can grow both inside and outside of the anus. It is also known as condyloma acuminata, and it is caused by contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV) through oral, genital, or anal sex with someone who has the virus, as per a study published in the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeon Journal. They may not cause pain or discomfort at first, but they will eventually grow and become itchy. They can also spread from your anus to surrounding tissues, such as your genitals. Other symptoms of anal warts are:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Lump in your anus

4. Pubic lice

According to a study published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, pubic lice, or phthirus pubis, are also known as crabs. They are small bugs that spread during sex and can colonise your genitals and, in certain cases, your anus, particularly the hair around these places. They feed on your blood and reside in your skin, which can be uncomfortable.

Other non-STI causes of itchy anus

1. Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are bulging veins in and around the anus produced by increased pressure, as found in a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Pressure can be caused by childbirth, pregnancy, straining on the toilet, or constipation. These veins can become huge lumps, resulting in anal irritation, stool leakage, and pain.

2. Skin irritation

“Skin irritation is a typical cause of an itchy anus. The skin surrounding the anus is thin and sensitive. When it becomes irritated, it produces itching and discomfort,” says the expert.

There are various distinct causes of skin inflammation. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Scented soaps and lotions
  • Excessive cleansing of the anus following bowel movement.
  • Remaining stool after a bowel movement
  • Eczema and psoriasis

3. Anal fissure

An anal fissure is a tear, split, or opening within the anus. It is caused when the skin is stretched beyond its natural capabilities, resulting in damage. A hard bowel movement can result in an anal fissure, as found in a study published in the StatPearls Journal.

Common symptoms include:

  • Bloody stools
  • Pain during and following bowel movements
  • Itchy anus
  • Tears or wounds on the anus
Anal fistula
Anal fissures can give you an itchy anus. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Risk factors for itchy anus caused by STIs

The risk factors for getting an STI that causes an itchy anus, as explained by the expert.

1. Sex without a condom: Condoms help protect against the transmission of STIs that can cause anal itching, such as herpes, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia.
2. Multiple sex partners: Having multiple sexual partners increases your chances of coming into contact with someone who has an STI.
3. Sex while using alcohol or drugs: Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair your judgement and make you more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour, such as unprotected sex.

How to prevent STIs from causing itchy anus?

Here are some effective ways to prevent STIs from causing an itchy anus, as explained by the expert.

1. Practise safe sex: This is the most important step. Always use condoms consistently and correctly during vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
2. Maintain good hygiene: Wash your genital and anal area daily with mild soap and warm water. Avoid harsh soaps or douches that can irritate the skin.
3. Wear cotton underwear: Cotton underwear allows for better ventilation and reduces moisture buildup, creating an environment for yeast infections that can also cause itching.
4. Avoid scratching: Scratching can worsen the itching and irritate the skin further. Try applying a cold compress or soothing lotion to the area for relief.

Home remedies to treat itchy anus caused by STI or STD

Here are some easy home remedies to treat itchy anus.

1. Coconut oil

“Coconut oil can calm the skin and heal infections that cause anal irritation. Rub heated coconut oil into the afflicted region twice a day to reduce itching and burning. However, make sure to wash the area afterwards with clean water,” says the expert.

2. Aloe vera

According to a study published in the BioMed Research International Journal, aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in wound healing. When applied to the anus, it may alleviate burning, itching, and swelling associated with haemorrhoids. However, more research is needed to prove this claim. Apply fresh aloe vera gel to the affected region twice every day.

3. Ice packs

“Ice or cold packs can also help alleviate discomfort and inflammation around the rectum area. Applying an ice pack while seated or when the haemorrhoid flares up might help numb the pain and reduce swelling, says the expert.

When to see a doctor?

If your anal is itchy and you suspect you have an STI, see a doctor. They can do tests to determine the cause and provide the necessary treatment. Early treatment is essential for treating the STI and alleviating the itching.

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