Medical Coding Insights On Anal Itching
As uncomfortable as the topic of ‘anal itching’ might be for most people, the condition is quite common. Irritated skin around the anus and an accompanying urge to scratch can result from a myriad of factors related to environment, diet, and personal hygiene. However, many cases of anal itching are symptoms of conditions that, if untreated, can lead to serious health complications. Thankfully, diagnostics are often able to pinpoint the source of conditions like anal itching—and thereby determine the severity of each case.
MD Guidelines reports that one to five percent of the American population suffers from anal itching (or Pruritus Ani, to physicians). The condition may be caused by the following: sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, syphilis or HIV/AIDS; systemic conditions like anemia, thyroid disease, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and certain kinds of cancer; and rectal yeast infection (also known as candidiasis), a bacterial growth that thrives on rectal moisture. However, anal itching can also easily be caused by a night of drinking or an exceptionally spicy meal. Most experts agree that the all-important first step to the treatment of anal itching is identification of its source.
During the initial diagnostic examination, the infected area should be thoroughly inspected for hemorrhoids and fistula, as well as any trauma resulting from the irritation. Stool incontinence will be observed, and a gynecological exam may be performed for female patients. The doctor may also order tests for the patient’s blood glucose and nitrogen levels and liver (hepatic) functions, and a skin biopsy may be performed. Fecal analysis may also be conducted over a specific period and can be recorded by the patient at home. If the physician is still unable to reach a specific diagnosis, then he or she may conduct a proctocolonoscopy, during which a small tube is inserted into the anus. The condition is typically treated with topical medication, such as lotion or skin cream.
For patients who do not suffer from chronic diseases, rectal yeast infection is often determined to be the cause of anal itching. Most patients are women, but men who receive anal sex have also been treated for the condition. HealthCare-Journal.com reports five chief causes of rectal yeast infection. Antibiotics, birth control and other medications can reduce levels of ‘good’ bacteria in an individual, which increases his or her risk for infection. Sexual transmission can also create rectal yeast as fluids are exchanged; spermicidal liquids found on condoms are often found to be the culprit. Other known causes of rectal yeast infection include pregnancy, diabetes and sensitivity to soap. The latter can result after prolonged exposure to materials such as bubble bath.
The symptoms of rectal yeast infection vary by individual case, though many will initially experience dryness, burning, or itching near the anus. The skin will become red and irritated, and the infected area could potentially spread if the skin is exposed to excess moisture (such as unwashed soap and diarrhea). Bloody stool and irritated bowels often follow. In some cases, the infected area will begin to produce a gray discharge with a fishy odor. Female patients may experience itchiness in the vaginal area, accompanied by a white discharge similar to cottage cheese. If these symptoms persist, the individual is encouraged to seek a physician; the doctor will normally order the patient to quit any current antibiotic medications, but the patient should continue taking the pills until his or her appointment. A trip to the emergency room is recommended in cases of severe pain.
In order to determine if anal itching is caused by a rectal yeast infection, individuals should consider many factors: Health history, medication regimen, sexual activity and the products used at home can all lead to this sort of infection. Since the symptoms of anal itching usually increase as a rectal yeast infection develops, the patient is often able to determine whether the initial discomfort is a temporary irritation—or the symptom of a more serious condition.