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Does an Anal Fissure Heal on Its Own?

Does an Anal Fissure Heal on Its Own?

If you have pain during bowel movements and have ruled out hemorrhoids, it could be an anal fissure. Anal fissures are common, and no one is immune. These tears in the lining of the lower rectum can be painful, but usually respond well to home treatment within a few days or weeks. 

If, however, your anal fissure hasn’t healed after 8-12 weeks, it’s considered chronic and may need medical treatment from an expert at Digestive Disorders Associates at one of our offices in Gambrills, Chester, and Annapolis, Maryland. 

All about anal fissures

Anal fissures usually happen when your anal canal experiences trauma, like passing large or especially hard stool, repeated diarrhea, or childbirth.

Other possible causes of an anal fissure are anal intercourse or a rectal exam. People with Crohn’s disease are also more likely to develop them. 

An anal fissure causes stinging or burning pain during bowel movements. You may have sharp pain as you pass stool, and the irritation can persist for several hours after your bowel movement. 

Anal fissures can also itch and bleed. Usually, the rectal bleeding appears as a bright red spot on toilet tissue or a few drops in the toilet bowl. If you have tarry or dark streaks in your stool, it’s an indication that you have bleeding higher up in the digestive tract and should bring this to the attention of our providers.

Not all anal fissures are painful. You may have one that just won’t heal and causes bright red bleeding from time to time. 

At-home care for anal fissures

Usually, an anal fissure heals on its own with 4-6 weeks of good care. You’ll probably see a great reduction in pain after just a few days of starting home treatments. To care for your anal fissue, try these measures:

Prevent constipation

Passing hard stools can lead to anal fissures. Eat more fibrous foods, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. We can also recommend a fiber supplement. Good hydration and regular exercise also discourage constipation.

Change your toilet habits

Get to the bathroom when you feel the urge to go, because holding stool encourages constipation. Also, avoid straining or sitting on the toilet for too long. 

Use a stool softener

Ask us about which types of laxative or stool softener we recommend and use them just for the short term. Other methods, like adding fiber to your diet and changing your bowel habits, are more effective solutions. 

Take a sitz bath

Fill your tub with just a few inches of plain warm water and soak for about 20 minutes, several times per day. The bath relaxes the internal anal sphincter and soothes irritated tissue. 

Use over-the-counter solutions

In some cases, we might recommend a nonprescription cream like zinc oxide or 1% hydrocortisone. Use these soothing methods for a short time only. 

Using baby wipes or medicated pads to wipe after you use the restroom can also be more soothing than dry toilet paper. 

When to seek help for an anal fissure

If you have a persistent anal fissure, reach out to our expert gastroenterological team at Digestive Disorders Associates. We can prescribe medication like nitroglycerin cream, blood pressure medications, or injections of Botox to ease your discomfort.

In the rare case that conservative treatments fail to heal your anal fissure, we may need to consider surgery. Usually, the surgery involves cutting into the part of the internal sphincter (muscle) that is spasming and causing your fissure. 

If you have a persistent anal fissure or are seeing blood in your stool that’s concerning, please reach out to us at Digestive Disorders Associates. Call any of our Maryland offices or use the online tool to schedule an appointment. 

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