What is perianal dermatitis?

Perianal dermatitis is a medical condition that describes an irritation of the skin around the anus. Common symptoms can include redness, pain, itching, and swelling. More severe cases can cause sores or blisters. The condition is usually caused by contact with an irritant, and can often be treated with a topical ointment.

Babies are especially susceptible to perianal dermatitis. This occurs when wet or dirty diapers are not changed promptly or when the child's skin is not properly cleaned during a diaper change. In this case, the condition is commonly known as diaper rash. Over-the-counter ointments and creams are available both to help prevent the condition and to treat it.

While babies are the most common, people of any age can experience perianal dermatitis. Those who are bedridden and unable to care for themselves often use adult diapers and experience the same problems as diapered babies. The condition can develop even when proper care is received, simply because of the natural heat and moisture present in that area of ​​the body, particularly if the individual sweats or does not wear undergarments that allow adequate ventilation. Athletes often wear special undergarments and use preventative treatments so the condition doesn't develop.

Not all cases of perianal dermatitis are related to diapers and underwear. It can be caused by an allergic reaction to soap, bath oils, toilet paper, or even laundry detergent. It can also develop as a secondary condition to disorders of the digestive system that cause diarrhea or as a result of high levels of alkalinity in a person's waste. It is also a common condition in pregnant women and those suffering from hemorrhoids or inflammatory bowel disease.

People who spend a lot of time sitting, especially on something that moves, are also prone to the condition. This includes cyclists, motorcyclists, and those who regularly ride horses. People employed in certain professions, particularly long-haul trucking, often experience persistent perianal dermatitis.

There are a number of variations of the condition. Perianal strep dermatitis is caused by group A streptococcus, a variant of the strep virus that causes strep throat. Perianal atopic dermatitis is eczema that occurs in the anal region. Candidal perianal dermatitis is a yeast infection that affects the anal region.

Numerous over-the-counter remedies are available to treat and prevent perianal dermatitis. A persistent or severe case may require a visit to the doctor and a prescription ointment. People with the condition should remember that while it may be uncomfortable to talk to a doctor, it is a medical condition that requires treatment and can become serious if left untreated.

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