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Anal Pain in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Pain in the opening to the rectum (anus) can be caused by diarrhea or constipation. Another common cause is a tear in the lining of the lower rectum caused by a minor injury like scratching or passing a hard stool. This is called an anal fissure. This type of anal pain often goes away when the original problem clears up. Injury from an object being placed in the rectum also can cause pain but this is less common. A rare cause of anal pain is spasms of the muscles in the rectum. Some of these conditions may cause some light bleeding.

Home treatment often relieves anal pain. If your child continues to have anal pain, your doctor may prescribe medicine to relieve pain and other symptoms. Depending on the cause, your child may need other treatment.

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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and 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 (3 to 4 inches) of warm water (sitz bath) a few times a day and after bowel movements. The warm water eases soreness. Do not put soaps, salts or shampoos in the water.
  • Give your child lots of fluids.
  • Include high-fibre foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, in your child's diet each day.
  • If your doctor suggests it, have your child take a fibre supplement (such as Benefibre or Metamucil) every day. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Have your child use the toilet when your child feels the urge. Or when you can, schedule time each day for a bowel movement. A daily routine may help. Ask your child to take time and not strain when having a bowel movement. But don't let your child sit on the toilet for more than 10 minutes.
  • Support your child's feet with a small step stool when your child sits on the toilet. This helps flex your child's hips and places the pelvis in a squatting position.
  • Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter laxative, such as PEG 3350 (Restoralax or Laxaday). Read and follow all instructions on the label when you give it to your child. Don't use laxatives on a long-term basis without talking to your child's doctor first.
  • Do not use over-the-counter ointments or creams on your child without talking to your doctor. Some of these may not help.
  • Use wet wash cloths or medicated pads, such as Preparation H or Tucks, instead of toilet paper to clean your child after a bowel movement. These products do not irritate the anus.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a 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 like Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra).

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child has new or worse bleeding from the rectum.
  • Your child has a new fever.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.
  • Your child has trouble passing stools.

Where can you learn more?

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