Hesperian Health Guides
Itching or Painful Anus
In this chapter:
Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins of the anus. They look puffy and feel like a lump near the anus. They may itch, burn, or hurt, especially during a bowel movement. Sometimes a hemorrhoid tears causing a little bright red blood on the stool.
Hemorrhoids are common in pregnancy and in people who sit or carry heavy loads all day, but anyone can get them. They are made worse by constipation, because straining to pass stool stresses the veins in the anus.
- Avoid constipation and hemorrhoids by drinking more water, and eating plenty of fresh fruit and whole grains.
- Certain bitter plant juices (such as witch hazel or cactus) dabbed on hemorrhoids helps shrink them.
- Sit in a shallow bath of warm water to clean the hemorrhoid and relieve the discomfort. Adding some epsom salts to the water will reduce the swelling.
Sometimes a hemorrhoid gets clogged with a clot of blood. You will feel a tender, firm mass inside the swollen vein. This can be so painful that the person cannot sit. Relieve the pain by taking out the clot:
it, inject 5 ml of 1 percent lidocaine at the base of the
hemorrhoid. Use sterilized tweezers to pull out the clot. Put pressure on the cut with a clean cloth or gauze for a few minutes until the bleeding stops.
Do not cut hemorrhoids off. This can cause severe bleeding.
Raw or torn skin on the anus
An itching, stinging, or bleeding anus may be caused by a small tear in the skin. This can easily be confused with hemorrhoids or worms. Usually an adult with an itching anus does not have worms.
These tears are usually caused by rough wiping after passing stool. They are made worse by not cleaning the anus well.
- Do not wipe the anus with corn cobs, newspaper, or other rough materials.
- Instead, use toilet paper or a small bowl of water to clean the anus after passing stool. Afterwards, wash hands well.
- Bathe regularly, and clean the anus during bathing.
- Put a barrier cream on the anus after cleaning it, to help it heal. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or a child’s diaper rash ointment should work. You can try a hydrocortisone cream, but do not use it for more than a week or it will weaken the skin.
Pain in the anus
Sometimes people get a swollen, red, painful lump next to the anus. It is filled with pus and is a kind of abscess. An abscess can lead to a hole between the anus and the skin and should be drained right away. Drain it as close to the opening of the anus as possible. See Skin, Nail, and Hair Problems (in development) for how to drain an abscess.