Anal fissures are small tears in the membranes of the anus. They usually heal very quickly with home care, although some cases may require more aggressive treatment, and they are relatively common, especially in infants. People who observe the symptoms of anal fissures should make an appointment with a doctor for an evaluation in which the diagnosis can be confirmed. It is important to see a doctor to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms which may necessitate different treatment approaches.
People with this condition usually experience pain while defecating and burning pain can also be associated with urination. Bright spots of blood may appear on toilet paper or in the toilet, and the patient can also experience symptoms like itching, a strong smelling discharge, and general discomfort. It is sometimes possible to see the anal fissure in the mirror or to feel it. Some patients may try to avoid defecation because of the pain.
Causes can include diarrhea and constipation as well as straining to pass large stool. In addition, sometimes childbirth causes trauma to the anus which leads to fissures. If a fissure is allowed to persist untreated, it can be come chronic. Chronic fissures can lead to muscle tears which cause painful spasms and may also be associated with infections and other health problems.
A doctor can often diagnose an anal fissure with a quick physical exam. Treatments can include using stool softeners to make it easier to defecate, cleansing the area with mild soaps, soaking in warm water to ease pain and inflammation, and applying lubricating anti-inflammatory creams to address discomfort. Anal fissures are often curable without surgery, but in rare cases a minor surgery to repair the anal sphincter may be required.
People of all ages can develop anal fissures and this common medical issue is not necessarily the result of anything a patient did or did not do. It is important to receive adequate treatment to avoid complications. A general practitioner can usually provide patients with the diagnosis and treatments they need, and a referral can be provided if a situation is more complicated and needs the attention of a specialist. Patients should not be shy about speaking up when it comes to problems with urination and defecation even though these topics can sometimes feel awkward or embarrassing; doctors have seen it all and can provide treatment without comment or judgment.