An anal fissure is a small tear in the thin, moist tissue (mucosa) that lines the anus. An anal fissure may occur when you pass hard or large stools during a bowel movement. Anal fissures typically cause pain and bleeding with bowel movements. You also may experience spasms in the ring of muscle at the end of your anus (anal sphincter).
Anal fissures are very common in young infants but can affect people of any age. Most anal fissures get better with simple treatments, such as increased fiber intake or sitz baths. Some people with anal fissures may need medication or, occasionally, surgery.
Symptoms of an anal fissure
An anal fissure may cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- a visible tear in the skin around your anus
- a skin tag, or small lump of skin, next to the tear
- sharp pain in the anal area during bowel movements
- streaks of blood on stools or on toilet paper after wiping
- burning or itching in the anal area
Causes of an anal fissure
- straining during childbirth or bowel movements
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease
- decreased blood flow to the anorectal area
- overly tight or spastic anal sphincter muscles
In rare cases, an anal fissure may develop due to:
How can an anal fissure be prevented?
An anal fissure can’t always be prevented, but you can reduce your risk of getting one by taking the following preventive measures:
- keeping the anal area dry
- cleansing the anal area gently with mild soap and warm water
- drinking plenty of fluids, eating fibrous foods and exercising regularly to avoid constipation
- treating diarrhea immediately
- changing infants’ diapers frequently
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