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Everything You Need to Know About Anal Abscess

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An anal abscess is a painful condition wherein a collection of pus forms near the anus. Many anal abscesses result from infection in the small anal glands. Perianal abscess, which often looks like painful boil-like swelling near the anus, is the most common type of abscess. Another type includes anorectal abscess, a collection of pus under the skin in the anus and rectum area.

They can sometimes lead to painful anal fistulas. This happens when an abscess does not heal and breaks open on the skin’s surface. An anal abscess that does not heal often requires surgery. 

Who is at risk of an anal abscess? 

An anal abscess is generally caused due to a blocked anal gland, a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or an infected anal fissure. The following are the risk factors: 

What are the symptoms? 

There may be constant pain and a throbbing sensation . These are the most noticeable symptoms, Swelling in the anal area and pain during bowel movements are usually seen . Some other common symptoms are: 

A red, bloated, and sensitive nodule or bump at the rim of the anus may be felt . The illness might cause a fever and chills. One may also experience rectal bleeding or discharge . Those experiencing inflammatory bowel diseases may have anal abscesses deeper in the rectum. This may result in pain and discomfort in the abdominal area. Other than discomfort or pain, which may lead a child to become irritable, there aren’t many symptoms in toddlers. A bulge or nodule around the anal area may also be visible or felt. 

Also Read About: Solitary Rectal Ulcer Syndrome

How is anal abscess diagnosed? 

Anal abscesses are typically diagnosed through a physical exam in which the doctor looks for distinctive nodules in the area. In the anal area, the doctor will look for pain, redness, and edema.  

For a few people, the signs of the abscess will not visible on the surface of the skin. Therefore, the doctor uses a sigmoidoscope to view the anal canal and lower rectum. The anal abscess can be deeper in some cases. In such cases, an MRI or ultrasound is generally recommended. Few tests are required to rule out diseases like Crohn’s disease. A blood test, imaging and colonoscopy are required to eliminate other diseases.   

What are the treatment options available for anal abscesses? 

Anal abscess does not usually go away on its own. The most recommended treatment by the doctor to treat is to drain the pus from the infected site. The doctors use medication to numb the area. 

If left untreated, anal abscesses develop into painful anal fistulas, which may necessitate additional surgical intervention. An anal abscess can lead to an anal fistula in around half of the persons who have it. A fistula is a cutaneous opening around the anus that is abnormal. Usually, surgery is needed to repair a fistula. Surgery may be required if the anal abscess is exceedingly large. A catheter may be inserted in some circumstances to ensure that the abscess drains entirely. After an abscess has been drained, it is usually left open and does not require stitches. If the patient has a weakened immune system or diabetes, the doctor may recommend that he/she spend few days in the hospital to avoid infection. 

It is suggested to take warm (not hot) baths after surgery. Sitting in warm water can help reduce swelling and allow the abscess to drain more easily. If the patient has a weakened immune system or if the infection has spread, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. 

How to prevent? 

There are no specific methods to avoid an anal abscess. However, there are some precautionary steps you can take, such as: 

  • Adequate protection against STIs and quick treatment 
  • Condom use is critical in preventing STIs that can lead to anal abscesses, especially during anal intercourse. 
  • For both children and adults, maintaining good hygiene and cleanliness in the anal area is critical. 

Though anal abscess causes complications, they can be treated. Understand the risk factors and ensure that any health issues that may raise the risk are monitored and managed. If one discovers any anal problems, see the doctor right away to get them treated and prevent them from getting worse. 

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At Apollo, we believe that easily accessible, reliable health information can make managing health conditions an empowering experience. AskApollo Online Health Library team consists of medical experts who create curated peer-reviewed medical content that is regularly updated and is easy-to-understand.
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