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Br J Surg. 1999 Oct;86(10):1337-40.

Treatment of persistent pruritus ani in a combined colorectal and dermatological clinic.

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1
Departments of Colorectal Surgery and Dermatology, St Peter's Hospital, Ashford, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pruritus ani is a common and socially embarrassing condition which is often poorly managed. It is often classified as idiopathic where the symptoms are usually transitory or secondary when a more persistent itch is experienced. The aim of this study was to establish the cause of pruritus ani in a group of patients referred to a combined colorectal and dermatological clinic, and to determine the most appropriate treatment.

METHODS:

Forty consecutive patients with pruritus ani were referred over a 6-month period from either the general practitioner or another hospital consultant to a combined colorectal and dermatological clinic. They were assessed by history, completion of a general health questionnaire, full examination of the skin, digital rectal examination, proctoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and patch testing. Patients were treated according to clinical findings at assessment.

RESULTS:

Thirty-four patients had a recognizable dermatosis, three had superficial perianal fissuring and three had a normal perineum; two required surgical intervention. Eighteen patients had a positive reaction when patch tested. All patients have shown an improvement or complete resolution of symptoms with treatment.

CONCLUSION:

This series has shown that the majority of patients presenting with pruritus ani have a dermatosis as the underlying cause of their symptoms and that many of them have developed contact sensitivities to the various topical medications used. These findings suggest that referral to a dermatologist in the first instance may be more appropriate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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