An anal abscess is a pus-filled lump that forms in the anus. This condition generally occurs due to a bacterial infection in the anal area. An anal abscess causes pain, especially when sitting or having a bowel movement.
Anal abscess is generally characterized by a small red bump in the anal canal. In some cases, abscesses can also appear at the end of the large intestine that is connected to the anus (rectum).
If not treated immediately, an anal abscess can lead to the formation of an abnormal channel in the anus (anal fistula ). This condition will make the pain worse, even causing difficulty controlling bowel movements.
Causes of Anal Abscess
An anal abscess occurs when the glands around the anus become infected with bacteria. As a result, the gland is enlarged and filled with pus . Some causes of anal abscess include:
- Blockage of glands in the anus
- Wounds or tears in the anus (anal fissures ) that are infected
- Anal injury
- Sexually transmitted disease
risk factors for anal abscess
Anus abscess can happen to anyone, but this condition is more at risk for people who:
- Have inflammatory bowel disease , such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
- Suffering from pelvic inflammation, diabetes , diverticulitis , diarrhea , or constipation
- Have a weak immune system, for example because you have HIV/AIDS
- Taking corticosteroids or chemotherapy
- Having anal (anal) sex
Anal abscess is also more common in pregnant women, as well as infants and toddlers who are still wearing diapers.
Symptoms of Anus Abscess
A common symptom of an anal abscess is a stabbing pain in the anus or rectum . This pain persists and gets worse when sitting, coughing, and defecating.
Other symptoms that can appear as a result of an anal abscess are:
- Body tired easily
- Difficult to urinate
- Fever and chills
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Irritation, swelling, and redness around the anus
- Discharge of pus or blood from the rectum
When to go to the doctor
Check with your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. Anus abscess that is left can develop into an anal fistula, which is an abnormal channel that forms in the rectum. Anal fistulas require surgery and usually take a long time to heal.
Go to the emergency room immediately if you have a high fever accompanied by vomiting, chills, difficulty defecating, and unbearable pain around the anus. These symptoms can indicate the infection has spread to the bloodstream. If not treated quickly, patients can experience sepsis, shock, and death.
Anal Abscess Diagnosis
The doctor will begin the diagnosis by asking the patient's symptoms and medical history. Next, the doctor will perform a physical examination of the patient's rectal area. Through a physical examination , the doctor can distinguish whether the lump in the patient's rectum is an abscess or hemorrhoid.
The doctor will also perform investigations to determine the cause of the abscess that forms in the anus. The inspection includes:
- Blood test , to detect diabetes, colitis or HIV/AIDS
- Endoscopy or colonoscopy, to see the condition of the anal canal and rectum
- Scan with ultrasound , CT scan or MRI , to detect the location of the abscess that is deeper and not visible on physical examination
Anal Abscess Treatment
Anal abscess cannot be cured with only antibiotic therapy. Handling that needs to be done to overcome this condition is by surgery which type depends on the location of the abscess.
If the abscess is located in an area that is not very deep, the patient will undergo minor surgery and is usually allowed to go home after the condition has recovered. However, if the abscess is deeper or larger, the patient will need to be hospitalized.
Anal abscess surgery can be performed under local anesthesia or general anesthesia . The operation is performed by making an incision in the area of the abscess and removing pus from the rectum.
After surgery, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection, and medication to relieve pain, such as paracetamol. Patients are also advised to soak the anus in warm water or a sitz bath 3-4 times a day.
To help the healing process, patients can eat soft foods and contain high fiber , and drink lots of water to facilitate bowel movements. Patients can also use stool softeners to relieve pain during bowel movements.
Complications of Anal Abscess
If left untreated or not routinely checked after surgery an anal abscess can cause a number of complications below:
- Anal fistula
- Persistent (chronic) pain in the area of the abscess
- Difficulty controlling bowel movements ( stool incontinence )
- Abscess recurrence after surgery
- Infection that spreads to the bloodstream ( sepsis )
Prevention of Anal Abscess
There are several ways that can be done to prevent the formation of an anal abscess, including:
- Prevent sexually transmitted infections , one of which is by using condoms during sex
- Get treatment immediately if you have a sexually transmitted infection
- Treating diseases that can increase the risk of developing an anal abscess, such as diabetes and colitis
- Not having sex through the anus ( anal )
- Maintain genital and anal hygiene
- Change your child's diaper regularly