Causes of Severe Rectal Itching & Burning

Anal itching and burning is a symptom associated with a variety of causes 3. A variety of self-care measures can often relieve the symptoms. However, medical attention is required if home treatments do not relieve symptoms because they may be a sign of a more serious condition.


According to Aetna, anal itching is often caused by irritation of the skin 13. Stool left around the anal opening and certain types of foods may cause rectal itching and burning 3. Spicy foods, coffee and even citrus fruits may cause rectal itching 24 to 36 hours after they are consumed. Fragrances in toilet paper, soap and even bubble bath can also cause irritation around the rectal area. Only water should be used to cleanse the anal area, and never soaps.

Intestinal Worms

Anal itching and burning is a common symptom of pinworms, an intestinal parasite 3. Pinworms are the most common intestinal parasite found in the United States, according to the 23. Anal itching and burning may become so severe it interferes with someone’s sleep 3. Additional symptoms include abdominal discomfort and pain. Still, some people with pinworms show no signs or symptoms. The treatment involves oral anti-parasite medications. Multiple doses of medication may be necessary for effective treatment.


Hemorrhoids are engorged veins located under the delicate skin near the anal opening. The condition often occurs when straining during a bowel movement. Obesity and pregnancy may contribute to the condition. Hemorrhoid flare-ups are common and often occur briefly. Hemorrhoids often disappear on their own within several days. Pain and burning often occur when attempting to have a bowel movement. Treatment involves applying over-the-counter corticosteroid or lidocain ointments to decrease swelling and pain, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health. Sitz baths may decrease the discomfort associated with hemorrhoids. Stool softeners may reduce straining associated with passing hard stools.

Anal Fissures

Anal fissures are small tears in and around the rectal opening 4. Pain and burning, as well as slight bleeding are common. The condition is often confused with hemorrhoids, because the symptoms are similar, according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons 4. Causes of anal fissures include hard bowel movements, straining due to diarrhea or other inflammatory conditions. Treatment involves identifying the cause of the anal fissure and focusing treatment here. Anal fissures often heal without treatment. Still, the condition can recur by passing a difficult bowel movement. Chronic anal fissures that do not heal require examination and possible surgery.