Anal Pain: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Pain in the opening to the rectum (anus) can be caused by diarrhea or constipation or by scratching a rectal itch. A common cause of anal pain is a tear in the lining of the lower rectum (anal fissure). This type of anal pain usually goes away when the problem clears up. Injury during anal sex or from an object being placed in the rectum also can cause pain. 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 usually can relieve anal pain. If you continue to have anal pain, your doctor may prescribe medicine to relieve pain and other symptoms. Depending on the cause, you may need other treatment.

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

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Sit in 8 to 10 centimetres of warm water (sitz bath) 3 times a day and after bowel movements. The warm water eases discomfort. Do not put soaps, salts, or shampoos in the water.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Include high-fibre foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, in your diet each day.
  • Take a fibre supplement, such as Benefibre or Metamucil, every day. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Use the toilet when you feel the urge. Or when you can, schedule time each day for a bowel movement. A daily routine may help. Take your time and do not strain when having a bowel movement. Do not sit on the toilet too long.
  • Support your feet with a small step stool when you sit on the toilet. This helps flex your hips and places your pelvis in a squatting position.
  • Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter laxative, such as Milk of Magnesia or Ex-Lax. Read and follow all instructions on the label, and do not use laxatives on a long-term basis.
  • Do not use over-the-counter ointments or creams without talking to your doctor. Some of these may not help.
  • Use baby wipes or medicated pads, such as Preparation H or Tucks, instead of toilet paper to clean 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 you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed. If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

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

  • You have a fever.
  • You have swelling, a lump, a sore, or a new growth in or around your anus.
  • Your stools are black and tar-like or have streaks of blood.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

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