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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Rectal Pain or Itching

Since you have moisture around your anus, this is the likely cause of your itching. But what is causing your moisture? There are several possibilities that are worth considering, either because they are common or because they would be a cause for serious concern.


Hemorrhoids are veins just beneath the inside surface of the rectum and anus. Hemorrhoids can become overfilled and bulging, particularly when straining to push out a bowel movement repeatedly interferes with normal circulation out of these veins. A bulging hemorrhoid can develop a weak area that can allow small amounts of blood to spill into the rectum. Hemorrhoids can cause itching or can soil or moisten your underwear, particularly when they create a bulge that pushes rectal tissue out of your anal opening. Most hemorrhoids do not cause pain, but some can be extremely painful. Pain from hemorrhoids usually comes after a blood clot forms, creating a "thrombosed" hemorrhoid.

Rectal prolapse

Constipation and straining at stool can occasionally cause the last portion of the rectum to sag downwards through the anus, exposing a bulge of moist pink or red tissue. This can cause moisture and itching in the anal area and may soil your undergarments. If you think you may have rectal prolapse, you should discuss strategies to control constipation with your doctor.

Anal fistula

Injury or inflammation in the lining of the rectum may permit bacteria to contaminate one of the mucus glands that surround the rectum. When they become infected, the infection may quickly intensify to create a pocket of pus (anal abscess). An anal abscess may drain pus through a break in the skin. An abscess can also drain pus through a break in the rectum lining. A draining pathway to the skin or rectum wall can persist for a long time without healing. A draining pathway that has not healed is called an anal fistula. An anal fistula usually causes a moist discharge of pus from the rectum or skin. A fistula may look like an open sore or a pus-filled bump near the anus. An anal fistula requires professional treatment as directed by your doctor.

Colorectal cancer

Cancer in the rectum can cause pain or itching in the rectum, and it commonly causes rectal bleeding. You are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer (cancer in the colon or rectum) if you have a family history of polyps or cancer in the colon, or if you are over the age of 50.

Anal cancer

Cancer at the rim of the anus is sometimes the result of a sexually passed infection, human papillomavirus. Anal cancer is more likely to result from this virus if you are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Anal cancer may look like a skin sore that will not heal. It commonly causes bleeding with bowel movements.

Fecal incontinence

Repeated leakage of stool or rectal moisture is a common cause of itching. It can result from a nerve or spinal cord injury or from injury to the anal sphincter.


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