Perirectal Abscess in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A perirectal abscess is an infection that causes a pocket of pus near the anus. The area may itch and be quite painful for your child. Most abscesses are caused by a blocked anal gland that gets infected. An abscess also can be caused by a tear, or fissure, in the anus. Diseases that affect the colon, such as Crohn's disease, also may cause an abscess.

The doctor may have drained the abscess to help treat the infection. He or she also may have prescribed antibiotics. Care at home can help your child heal.

Your child may have had a sedative to help him or her relax. Your child may be unsteady after having sedation. It can take a few hours for the medicine's effects to wear off. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, and feeling sleepy or tired.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child sit in 8 to 10 centimetres of warm water (sitz bath) 3 times a day and after bowel movements. The warm water helps with pain and itching.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Have your child use stool softeners as directed.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions if your child was sent home with a drain or packing in the abscess.
  • Have your child avoid scented and coloured toilet paper, which may irritate the anal area.
  • Help your child clean the area gently with wet cotton balls, a warm face cloth, or baby wipes.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.
  • Your child is very sleepy and you have trouble waking him or her.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • Your child's pain gets worse.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has new or increased swelling or a lump in or around the anus.
  • Your child has new or increased redness in or around the anus.
  • Your child's stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
  • Your child has pus in his or her stool.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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