For decades, toilet paper ads have duped innocent wipers into believing their products are soft, cloud-like materials to pamper your booty. But if you look past the slogans and cute mascots, you'll see that toilet paper is a primary culprit of a painful condition known as "polished anus syndrome," or PAS.
PAS is basically an itchy, burning b-hole: the inevitable result of wiping aggressively with dry toilet paper. We didn't make this sh*t up. The official medical terms for PAS are perianal dermatitis and pruritus ani, which means "itchy anus" in Latin.
PAS is becoming increasingly common, especially among men. Honestly, we're not surprised. DUDES are notoriously awful at wiping, and when you add dry TP into the equation, your butt doesn't stand a chance. But there's hope!
Read on to learn the science behind PAS and how to get relief fast.
What Is Pruritus Ani, AKA Polished Anus Syndrome?
Pruritus ani translates to "itchy anus" in Latin. It's a skin condition that causes intense itching, burning, and soreness in the perianal area (the 5 cm radius of your butt hole). Cleveland Clinic defines it bluntly as "an uncontrollable urge to scratch your anus."
For people who don't have lab coats and medical degrees, pruritus ani is called "polished anus syndrome" since it's frequently triggered by "overzealous or aggressive hygiene" with soaps, lotions, and toilet paper.
PAS is a relatively recent phenomenon coined by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. They are finding more and more patients coming in with irritated brown eyes. It's estimated that up to 5% of the population suffers from a chronically itchy anus. Men are four times more likely to be affected by PAS than women. It also tends to be more prevalent in middle-aged folks.
What Causes Pruritus Ani?
Wondering why you can't stop scratching your sphincter? For millions of people, the answer is toilet paper.
Wiping vigorously with dry paper scrapes the fragile skin around your anal area. Depending on how often you have bowel movements (and how much you wipe), this can cause itching, burning, and even bleeding.
As if the pain wasn't enough, toilet paper doesn't even clean your third pit—it just smears it around your skin. Fecal contamination has a direct correlation with anal itching. In one study, researchers found that half of the people with pruritis ani had poop residue on their bums.
- Toilet paper: Obviously
- Spicy food: Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which basically sets your butt on fire
- Psoriasis: A skin disease that causes itchy rashes
- Contact dermatitis: A rash from a substance you're allergic to, like body wash or laundry detergent
- Hemorrhoids: A common condition where veins in the rectum swell up
- Anal fistulas: A small tunnel that connects an infected gland inside the anal canal to an opening on the skin around the anus
- Anal fissures: Small tears that feel like a paper cut—often the result of straining from constipation
- Warts: An STD that causes small bumps around the anorectal area
- Pinworms: Parasites that infect the intestines (this is super rare)
- Yeast infections: A type of fungal infection that causes swelling or small cuts in the skin
3 Ways to Get Rid of Pruritus Ani/Polished Anus Syndrome
Treating pruritus ani ain't always easy, but there's hope. Here are three tried-and-true strategies to tame your itchy inferno down below.
1. Use Flushable Wipes
If you want to get rid of PAS, get rid of toilet paper. Don't take our word for it, though: rectal surgeons specifically advise against using dry toilet paper to wipe if your third pit is irritated. Some people use baby wipes, but those can have deodorants and fragrances that irritate perianal skin. Go for DUDE Wipes Medicated—they're infused with soothing witch hazel, aloe, and vitamin E to give your butt the spa-like treatment it deserves.
2. Try a Topical Cream
Hydrocortisone or zinc oxide creams are ideal for reducing inflammation, even on the most sensitive skin. These are pretty cheap and available over-the-counter at your local drugstore.
3. Invest in a Bidet
It's ironic that Americans love technology but haven't adopted a rudimentary hygiene tool: the bidet attachment. They come standard in bathrooms across the world—and for good reason.
Whether battling PAS or wanting a more thorough cleansing after taking a crap, you can't beat the refreshing spritz from a bidet. Shameless plug: The DUDE Wiper 1000 bidet attachment has dual-action nozzles and idiot-proof installation.
If you're not ready to commit to a bidet, you can always hop in the shower after you drop a deuce.
Don't Punish Your Hole
If you're among a growing contingent of poor souls with PAS, there's no need to feel ashamed. Many of us weren't taught proper wiping techniques as kids or feel like we can never get our third pit clean, especially if we're hairy. Plus, you've been lied to by TP lobbyists for decades.
It's time for a reckoning. There's no reason 5% of adults should live with TP-related injuries. Level up your wipe game with DUDE Wipes and say hello to the Fresh dLife.