Anal Fissure: What You Need to Know

Many people are unaware of this condition but an anal fissure can be quite painful. It's important to understand how this develops. What is an anal fissure? It's a small teat in the tissue of the anus that causes pain and bleeding, especially during bowel movements. Yes, these symptoms can seem alarming, however anal fissure is quite a harmless condition. 

For adults, risk factors including constipation, chronic diarrhea, pregnancy, and Crohn's disease. Anal fissures are quite common in babies but generally heal on their now. Sometimes chronic anal fissures will require surgery. 


The main symptoms are bleeding or stinging pain during bowel movements, itchiness, a tiny crack in the tissue of the anus and constipation. How does this happen? Most often, a large or hard stool stretches the anus too far causing bleeding. You may see blood on toilet paper, baby wipe or on the stool itself. Usually they repair themselves in a few days time but can take weeks to heal completely. 

Most patients don't need treatment. Anal fissures can recur so it's important to eat a healthy high-fiber diet which can reduce the chances of recurrence. 

Anal fissures are very common. Millions of people in the U.S. have them each year.


Most anal fissures will heal on their own. Some people need treatment, which includes: 

  • Eating more fiber
  • Drinking more water 
  • Topical muscle relaxants or painkillers 
  • Medications to soften the stool 
  • Sitz baths -- soaking the pelvis in water 
  • Botox injections into the muscles 
  • Minor surgery

Anal fissures can be treated at home with a gentle wiping using a cloth. Some patients will use moist medicated pads instead of toilet paper. Also during recovery period, it's important to add more fiber and fluids to your diet. Also, patients can try dabbing petroleum jelly or nonprescription ointments on the anus that can help. For babies, diapers must be changed frequently to avoid irritation. Doctors are able to diagnose this through a full rectal exam.