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February 14, 2022 | Dr.Amna Zubair

Itching in the anal or genital regions is pretty common and is experienced frequently by many adults. But it is not talked about because it is considered embarrassing to discuss. Some people also don’t open up about it because they fear it might be taken as a sign of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). For this reason, we will discuss the multiple causes of anal and genital itching and their possible treatment options. 

What Causes Itching In Anal and Genital Region?

Itching in the anal and genital regions can occur due to multiple causes, apart from STDs. It can happen individually in the anal or genital area or affect them simultaneously. The reasons may vary in males and females. We’ll list the causes of anal and genital itching separately for better understanding. 

Anal itching

Anal itching can be temporary or persistent. The causes of anal itching may include:

  • Poor hygiene: Lack of proper hygiene is a frequent cause of anal itching. It can also increase the risk of other infections. On the contrary, excessive cleaning by harsh products can also cause itching in the anal or genital region. 
  • Fecal matter: The presence of residual feces or fecal incontinence can irritate the skin covering the anal region. This can also occur if you have chronic diarrhea or persistent loose stools. 
  • Usage of wet wipes: Store-bought wet wipes may contain certain chemical irritants that cause anal itching. It is suggested to use dry paper towels. 
  • Hemorrhoids: Piles or hemorrhoids can also cause itching or discomfort in the anal region. Itching may vary depending on the severity of the condition. 
  • Skin diseases: Diseases like lichen planus, eczema, psoriasis that usually affect your skin can also cause itching in the anal region.
  • Irritants: If you have sensitivity to particular products in body washes, soaps, bubble baths, creams, or ointments, that may also result in anal itching and irritation.
  • Infections: Bacterial, viral or fungal infections that involve the anus are a serious cause of anal itching. This also includes infection by pinworm and STDs. 
  • Anal tumor: This is a rare cause of anal itching. If itching persists for a long time without any apparent cause, it may signify an anal tumor.

Genital itching

Causes of genital itching can be different in males and females. The majority of the reasons are similar to anal itchings, such as poor hygiene, skin diseases, etc. It is important to understand that STDs are not the only cause of genital itching, but they should be kept in mind until an accurate diagnosis is made. Other causes of genital itching may include:

  • Allergies: If you’re sensitive to any skincare or genital care product, it may cause an allergic reaction in the genital regions. This can occur in both males and females.
  • Irritation: Running long distances, wearing tight underwear, or other chemical irritants can result in itching. Urine very low in pH can also cause irritation. 
  • Infections: Fungal infections such as jock itch in males and yeast infection in females are common causes. Bacterial infections such as bacterial vaginosis can also be a cause. 
  • Pubic lice: This is common in people with dense pubic hair. Pubic lice can cause irritation and itching in the genital region.
  • Menstruation: Females can experience constant vaginal itching during menses which may be caused due to irritation by pads or tampons. 
  • Genital cancer: Itching can also be a minor sign of penile or vulvar cancer. Consult your doctor if any such complication is suspected. 

Apart from all these causes, STDs such as genital warts, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc., can also cause long-term genital or anal itching. STDs are not necessarily the cause in every case, but they should always be considered. 

When to See a Doctor?

If you experience persistent itching in your genital or anal region along with other symptoms such as rash, bleeding, or changes in skin texture, don’t hesitate to discuss it with a medical expert. Your doctor may ask questions regarding the onset, duration, severity of symptoms, previous sexual activity, and medical history. A clinical examination of the affected regions may also be done. If necessary, your doctor will require running diagnostic tests such as culture tests, swab tests, allergy tests, etc. 

There is no embarrassment in talking about these signs and symptoms. Discussing these issues with a medical expert raises awareness and will provide you with the necessary guidance. Additionally, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent future complications. 

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