What to Do for Anal Pain

Common Causes of Anal Pain and When to See the Doctor

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Anal pain can be quite worrisome. But you might be embarrassed about symptoms relating to your private parts and reluctant to discuss the problem with friends, family, or even your doctor. That can leave you in the dark as to what the problem might be. Learn the most common causes of anal pain, when to see your doctor, and tips for self-care.

There are a lot of nerve endings in the area of the rectum and anus. Any problems in the area can range from uncomfortable to excruciatingly painful. Most of the time the causes of anal pain are benign, even if there is bleeding (which can be pretty scary to see).

However, if your pain doesn't ease within a few days, it is essential that you see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Do not let embarrassment prevent you from speaking to your doctor. Your doctor has been trained to deal with medical conditions in all parts of the body.

The Most Common Causes of Anal Pain

The following conditions are the most likely causes of anal pain:

  • Anal fissure: The pain associated with an anal fissure is typically located at the opening of the anus and is acute and sharp. The pain is experienced during a bowel movement but may persist over time. You may also experience anal itching as well as see bright red blood on the outside of the stool or on your toilet paper.
  • Hemorrhoids:  Although some hemorrhoids can cause no symptoms, others can be quite painful. You would experience hemorrhoid as a swollen, inflamed vein in the rectum or on the anus. You may experience itchiness and see bright red blood in the stool or your toilet paper. A thrombosed hemorrhoid is an especially painful, (but not necessarily serious), type of hemorrhoid as it involves a blood clot in the vein.     
  • Rectal Tenesmus  Another common cause of anal pain is that associated with tenesmus, a condition in which a person continues to strain to empty an already empty bowel. Tenesmus typically manifests itself alongside other medical conditions.
  • Anal pain can also be the result of muscle spasms in the pelvic area. This would manifest itself as a sharp pain that goes away quickly.
  • Pain on the outside of the anus could be the result of a yeast infection, itchiness associated with the hemorrhoid, or the result of rough cleaning of the skin on the outside of the anus.

Health Conditions Associated with Anal Pain

The following health conditions may cause the symptom of anal pain:

When To See Your Doctor

If your pain symptoms do not ease within a few days, make an appointment with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. Seek immediate medical care if you experience:

  • Significant rectal bleeding
  • Worsening pain, accompanied by high fever

For a full list of symptoms requiring emergency care, see:

Self-Care of Your Anus

Be kind to your anus. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Remember to always wash gently with warm water. Avoid soap. Gently pat the area dry.
  2. Wear underwear that breathes, such as cotton or that made with moisture-wicking fiber.
  3. Do not use any creams other than those prescribed by your doctor.
  4. If necessary, you may find pain relief by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  5. If your anal pain is caused by an anal fissure or hemorrhoid, start taking regular sitz baths. Soaking the anus in hot water will both soothe and treat the underlying cause.
  6. If you engage in anal intercourse, always use a condom. Otherwise, never insert any foreign objects into your rectum!
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