Do you have an anal abscess?

An anal abscess is a condition that occurs when there is a buildup of pus near the anus. They can be quite painful. The most common cause of anal abscesses is an infection that develops in the anal glands. The most common type of anal abscess is a perianal abscess, which looks like a swollen boil near the anus. These types of abscesses usually require treatment involving drainage and surgery. Treating the abscess this way often results in successful results. However, complications may arise. After draining an abscess, about fifty percent of patients develop a fistula.


There are a number of different things that can cause an anal abscess. Causes of an anal abscess include an infection of an anal fissure, sexually transmitted infections, or blocked anal glands. The risk factors for anal abscesses include colitis, inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, diabetes, diverticulitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, engaging in anal sex, or using medications such as prednisone. Sexually active adults can lower their risk of developing anal abscesses by using condoms during sexual intercourse and anal intercourse. The parents of infants and toddlers can lower their risk for developing anal abscesses by frequently changing their diapers and properly cleaning their child when changing their diapers. 

The signs and symptoms of anal abscesses are often painful. The pain is usually made worse when sitting down, is constant and feels like its throbbing. Signs and symptoms of an anal abscess include skin irritation around the anus, including swelling, redness, and tenderness, discharge of pus, constipation or pain during bowel movements. If the abscess is more internal as opposed to being superficially present, a person may also experience signs and symptoms such as fever, chills, or malaise.

Diagnosing an anal abscess usually involves a digital rectal exam. Your doctor may also recommend additional tests to screen for sexually transmitted infections, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticular disease, and rectal cancer. They may also recommend certain imaging tests such as an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI.

Treatment for an anal abscess often includes immediate surgical drainage of the abscess. This is important because the abscess can erupt. A small or superficial anal abscess can be drained using local anesthesia and in a doctor’s office, while a large or deeper anal abscess may require being treated in a hospital.