Anal Abscess and Fistula

What is an anal abscess?

Anal abscess is a lump very close to the anus filled with pus due to an infection in a gland inside anus.

What is an anal fistula?

An anal fistula is the tunnel shaped path that is formed between the infected anal gland and the point on the skin where the abscess appears.

What are the symptoms of an anal abscess?

Anal abscess presents with symptoms including:

  • Pain in anal region which is constant and severe in nature
  • Fever
  • Feeling tired and generally unwell

What are the symptoms of anal fistula?

Anal fistula symptoms are similar to the symptoms of an anal abscess. However, the pain in an anal fistula isn’t as severe as anal abscess and may occur only during defaecation. Other symptoms of anal fistula include:

  • Itching and redness near the anus
  • Discharge of pus from the anus

Are there tests for anal abscesses or fistulas?

Anal abscess or fistula is usually diagnosed on history and physical examination including visual examination of anus along with DRE (digital rectal examination). During DRE, a doctor inspects the inside of anus using a gloved finger and local anesthetic gel, to feel for any abnormality including lumps inside the anus.

Some patients might need a CT scan or an MRI to get clear picture of inside.

Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better?

There are certain things you can do to reduce the pain and feel better, such as:

  • Take “sitz” baths: use a shallow bath with warm water to clean the anal region. You can use it twice a day, especially after opening your bowels, for up to half an hour each time. Your doctor may suggest you add medicine to the water to help aid healing.
  • Spray water gently on the anal region using a hand-held shower

How is an anal abscess treated?

Anal abscess is treated by draining the pus out after making a small hole in it. Small abscesses may be drained in doctor’s clinic, however larger ones need to be managed in a hospital.

How is an anal fistula treated?

Anal fistula is treated by cutting open the tunnel, cleaning out any pus and then letting it heal. Larger and deep fistulas need to be treated in hospital.