When a cavity (space in the body) is filled with pus, it is called an abscess. When this occurs around the anus, it is called an anal abscess. This is NOT related to poor hygiene.
What causes anal abscess? Who is at risk?
An anal abscess is usually caused by a blocked anal gland (similar to how a pimple forms). The normal secretions are trapped and bacterial infection sets in to produce the pus. Other less common causes include an infected anal fissure can be associated with a weakened immune system:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (eg. Crohn’s disease) where the body’s own immune system attacks the otherwise healthy body, particularly the digestive system.
- Weaker immune system due to HIV or AIDS
- Medications like steroids or chemotherapy drugs for cancer
Patients often experience a painful lump, fever or even a yellow foul-smelling discharge if the abscess should burst. It can affect your bowel movement or even walking and normal activities. If you notice any such issues, you should contact your doctor early.
Other common symptoms of anal abscess are
- Constipation and/or difficulty with urination due to pain
- Bleeding from the anus and rectum
- Fever and fatigue
In more serious cases, an anal abscess can go deeper into the rectum. As a result, pain along with discomfort in the abdominal area can be felt.
Up to 50% of anal abscess is associated with a fistula, an abnormal communication from the skin into the anus or rectum. Treatment of the fistula will reduce the risk of a recurrent abscess, but this may have to be staged.
How it is Diagnosed?
An anal abscess is usually diagnosed by an expert examination the patient’s anus.
In some patients, where the abscess is deeper or pain does not allow for a comfortable examination, our specialists may order an MRI of the area.
If Crohn’s disease or Tuberculosis or other underlying disease is suspected, more tests may be ordered to confirm this diagnosis as part of the complete management of the abscess.
The most effective treatment for an anal abscess is surgery, to remove the pus and clean the infected area. This may be accompanied by a course of antibiotics.
You will need to come to the clinic after surgery where our specialist and nurse will teach you how to take care of your wound.