An itchy anus can be a symptom of cancer. However, it may also occur for other reasons, such as skin irritation, hemorrhoids, and infections. Additionally, bleeding is often the first symptom of anal cancer, rather than itchiness.

Anal cancer can also be asymptomatic, meaning it does not cause any symptoms.

If a person has persistent itchiness, a doctor can help with identifying the cause and providing treatments.

Keep reading to find out whether an itchy anus can be cancer, as well as learn about the other symptoms of anal cancer and other potential causes.

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An itchy anus can be a sign of cancer. However, according to the American Cancer Society, minor bleeding is often the first sign of anal cancer. Anal cancer is rare, accounting for only 2.5% of all cancers affecting the stomach and intestine.

It may be more likely that an itchy anus is a symptom of another condition, such as hemorrhoids, irritation, or infections.

If a person has any doubts, they should speak with a doctor as soon as possible. This may feel uncomfortable, but a doctor will be able to perform a physical examination and tests to determine the cause.

Anal cancer does not always cause symptoms. As many as 2 in 10 people with the condition are asymptomatic. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • blood coming from the rectum
  • itchiness in or around the rectum
  • a lump or feeling of fullness in the anus
  • pain in the anus
  • changes in bowel movements, such as a narrowing of the stool
  • discharge from the anus
  • loss of bowel movement control

Other symptoms that people may experience include pelvic pain and weight loss. Doctors can sometimes find swollen lymph nodes around the groin or anus.

People may mistake hemorrhoids for anal cancer. However, unlike anal cancer, hemorrhoids are common and a frequent cause of rectal bleeding and itchiness.

Hemorrhoids are structures present around the anus that contain blood. Sometimes, these structures become inflamed and swollen. They can also protrude from the anus, which may result in symptoms ranging from minimal discomfort to severe pain.

Regardless of the location, hemorrhoid disease may cause:

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • itchiness
  • burning
  • swelling

Other symptoms people may report with internal hemorrhoids include mucus discharge from the anus, moisture, and difficulty with cleaning the anus and surrounding skin.

Although the symptoms can be similar, anal tumors are not a typical part of the anus’s structure. They have links to inflammatory responses to certain infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18.

Males living with viral infections of the genitals have an increased risk of anal cancer. People living with HIV also have a higher risk that is 40 times greater than that of the general population.

Symptoms of anal cancer may not appear until the tumor reaches an advanced stage and can be hard to tell apart from hemorrhoid symptoms. It is for this reason that it is always advisable for a person to speak with a doctor about any persistent itchiness or other symptoms.

Some other potential causes of this symptom include:


A pinworm is a parasite that lives in the intestine of affected humans. While a person is asleep, the female pinworm attempts to escape the anus and deposits eggs on the surrounding skin. This leads to anal itchiness, especially at night. However, some people have no symptoms.

Over-the-counter treatments for pinworms are available, but people should speak with a doctor before using them to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment involves taking drugs known as antihelminthics. These include albendazole, mebendazole, or pyrantel pamoate.

Genital warts

Genital warts can appear on the anus and occur due to HPV, which is the most common sexually transmitted infection. The symptoms include:

  • itching
  • bleeding
  • mucus discharge
  • the feeling of a lump or fullness in the anus

These symptoms are similar to those of anal cancer, so diagnosis requires a physical examination from a doctor.

To treat small genital warts, doctors may prescribe creams. Other medications can burn or freeze warts off the skin. In some situations, warts require surgical removal.


Perianal dermatitis is the medical name for eczema around the anus. It can occur due to contact with irritants, allergens, or infections. For example, certain laundry detergents may cause irritation, and feces can result in an infection.

Eczema around the anus can cause itchiness and dry skin. In lighter skin tones, eczema may be red, while in darker skin tones, it may be red, purple, or darker brown.

To treat eczema, doctors recommend avoiding the cause. For example, switching to a different soap or detergent can help. For quick symptom relief, doctors may recommend steroid creams.

Anal fissures or fistulas

An anal fissure is a tear in the skin around the anus. People can tear the skin in this area when passing a very hard stool or through aggressive wiping. Anal surgery can also cause tearing of the skin.

The main symptom of anal fissures is pain during bowel movements, but people can have pain from anal fissures even when they are not having a bowel movement. Some may have bleeding and itchiness, too. Scratching an anal fissure can make the itchiness worse.

Treating an anal fissure may include steroid creams. Avoiding using soap or scrubbing the anus can help to reduce irritation. Keeping stools soft by eating a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of water can help reduce irritation during and after bowel movements.

A fistula is a complication of a fissure. It is a connection that forms between the anus and the perianal area. Symptoms of a fistula are more severe than those of a fissure. They include:

  • itching
  • mucus draining
  • discomfort
  • pain when passing stool

Doctors may choose certain medical procedures to remove the fistula.

People who experience an itchy anus frequently or persistently should speak with a doctor as soon as they can. Stigma may make the thought of doing this embarrassing, but doctors treat all kinds of conditions. They can help diagnose the cause and provide ways of reducing the discomfort.

Anal cancer is rare, but if it is the cause of the itchiness, an early diagnosis can also help with treatment. Around 19 in 100 people with anal cancer wait 6 months or more before speaking with a doctor. However, waiting can allow cancer to grow and spread.

Other causes of this symptom, such as eczema or infections, are treatable.

An itchy anus is a symptom of many conditions. It can be a symptom of anal cancer, but overall, anal cancer is rare. Other potential causes of an itchy anus include irritation, infection, and hemorrhoids.

These conditions can be difficult to tell apart on the basis of symptoms alone, which is why it is important for a person to speak with a doctor.