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An anal fissure is a small tear in the thin lining of tissue (mucosa) around the anus. Although common in young infants, anal fissures can occur in individuals of any age. In fact, anal fissures are a relatively common occurrence, with most fissures being the result of a hard or large bowel movement. While most anal fissures heal within four to six weeks, complications can arise. Medical attention should be sought if an anal fissure fails to heal, recurs, or extends to surrounding muscles.
Anal fissures are typically caused by trauma to the lining of the anus, such as a large, hard bowel movement or receptive anal penetration. Additionally, constipation, chronic diarrhea, childbirth, straining during bowel movements, chronic inflammation of the anorectal area, and anal infections can all lead to anal fissures. Less common causes include anal cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, herpes, and syphilis.
There are a number of health factors that may increase a patient’s risk of developing an anal fissure. Passing hard stools, childbirth, and Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease) make the lining of the anus increasingly vulnerable to tearing. Additionally, reduced blood flow and circulation to the rectal area during old age may increase the risk of an anal fissure.
Pain and bleeding in the rectum
Mild to severe pain during a bowel movement
Blood in the stool or on toilet paper shortly after a bowel movement
Itching in and around the anus
A visible tear to the skin around the anus
Tenderness, swelling, or redness around the anus
A small lump within the skin around the anal fissure
Most anal fissures heal on their own over time, but many treatment options are available.
Patients can take the take the necessary steps to help heal an anal fissure:
Increase fluid and fiber consumption,
Soak in warm water several times a day; or
Take a stool softener to make bowel movements more comfortable.
If a fissure fails to respond to these treatment modalities, nitroglycerin, steroid creams, injections, medications, or surgery may be considered.
Call 623.208.5740 to schedule an appointment.