An anal fissure is a small tear or cut in the wall of the anus. Signs of an anal fissure include painful bowel movements, blood streaks or mucus on the stool or on toilet tissue, and anal itching. Anal fissures may happen to anyone but are more common in infants, postpartum women, individuals with Crohn's disease and older adults. While the specific causes of anal fissures remain a mystery, most of the time this condition will mend itself if proper precautions are taken to allow the area to heal.
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Avoid constipation so that the tear will not grow or become reopened once it has begun to heal. This can be accomplished by drinking at least eight glasses of water each day and eating plenty of high-fiber foods such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits, explains the New York University Langone Medical Center. You should aim for 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe stool softeners or laxatives that increase stool bulk to prevent constipation.
When having a bowel movement, avoid straining. Straining can worsen an anal fissure or create new ones.
Clean the area of the fissure thoroughly after every bowel movement. Instead of using tissue paper, use soft baby wipes.
Soak the anal area in a Sitz bath at least three times each day for 10 to 20 minutes each time. A Sitz bath fits on the toilet and is designed to be filled with warm water. Do not add soap or other products to the Sitz bath.
Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. Exercise promotes healthy digestion and aids in the prevention of hard, dry stool that can aggravate anal fissures and prevent them from healing. It also promotes blood flow that can speed healing of the tear.
Get a medicated cream or ointment from your doctor, such as a prescription rectal corticosteroid or an over the counter cream with hydrocortisone, to protect the area. Apply the medication after each Sitz bath and bowel movement or as recommended by your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about trying an injection of botulinum toxin type A, using nitroglycerine ointment or having surgery to repair the anal wall if symptoms have not gone away within six weeks. These solutions are only available through a physician and are only appropriate in cases of chronic anal fissures, not for treatment of temporary fissures that may yet resolve on their own.