An anal fissure is a small tear in the skin at the opening of the anus. Fissures are caused by trauma to the lining of the anus. This typically occurs after passing a hard stool or having diarrhea for a long period of time. Less common causes include infections and tumors.
Fissures are relatively common among adults and children. They occur more frequently in people with Crohn’s disease and after childbirth. Symptoms of an anal fissure include bleeding and pain during or right after a bowel movement. Otherwise, patients are often pain-free. Some people experience chronic fissures which can be difficult to treat.
Medication and medical therapy are the most common ways to treat anal fissures.
Medical therapies include:
- A high-fiber diet and fiber supplements
- Stool softeners and increased water intake
- Sitz baths (warm baths) several times daily
Medications used include:
- Topical pain relief
- Nitroglycerin or other medications to relax the sphincter muscles
In cases where fissures reoccur or aren’t alleviated by the medications or lifestyle changes, your physician may recommend minor surgery to relax the sphincter or Botox injections into the anal muscles.
To find out more about anal fissures, see the National Institutes of Health.