Soothing Relief for Anal Discomfort
Common digestive problems, including hemorrhoids and anal fissures, can result in itching, pain, and general discomfort. Find out how to soothe that sensitive area and sit comfortably again.
Many conditions, including hemorrhoids and anal fissures, result in irritation and discomfort in the anal region.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to ease anal discomfort and get relief.
The anus is the external opening of the lower intestine. Fecal material collects in the rectum and is passed outside the body via the anal opening. If your intestines are giving you problems, you may be experiencing anal discomfort, too.
There are a number of digestive health issues that can cause anal itch, pain, tenderness, and general anal discomfort. Here are some common problems that can leave you looking for relief:
- Anal fissure. This is a tiny tear in the thin external skin of the anus, which despite its small size can be extremely painful. Anal fissures often are caused by passage of very hard stool, but can also occur from the irritation of severe diarrhea.
- Hemorrhoids. There are several types of hemorrhoids, but they all begin essentially the same way — a vein in the anus or rectum becomes painfully engorged with blood and swollen. This generally occurs because of straining to have a bowel movement, often from constipation.
- Diarrhea. Frequent passage of watery stool along with frequent wiping of the area can cause irritation and anal discomfort.
- Constipation. This is characterized by hard, infrequent, or difficult-to-pass stools that can result in anal pain even when they do not cause a fissure or hemorrhoid.
Treating Diarrhea and Constipation
If you’re dealing with anal discomfort due to diarrhea or constipation, treating those conditions will also relieve anal itch or pain. Work with your doctor on dietary changes, dietary supplementation, or a trial of medication.
“Fiber supplements can be helpful and you can use them every day but I don’t recommend taking more than the suggested dose, as that can cause bloating in some people,” says Arun Swaminath, MD, director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.”
You may also be advised to try:
- Anti-diarrheal medications
- Boosting dietary fiber intake with whole-grain foods and more vegetables and fruits
Relieving Anal Discomfort
There are also steps you can take to relieve anal discomfort quickly. Try these tips:
- Keep the area clean. It’s important to keep the anus clean of any fecal matter, but avoid using soaps that can further irritate sensitive skin. Warm water can work wonders. Try taking a sitz bath, sitting in a shallow tub of warm water for 15 minutes several times a day when the anus is irritated. Allow the area to air-dry or gently dab with a clean towel rather than rubbing.
- Apply a cream or ointment that creates a protective barrier. Protecting your sensitive, sore skin from exposure to feces with a cream barrier can ease anal discomfort and itch. Your doctor may recommend a prescription cream or an over-the-counter ointment.
- Sprinkle it with powder. Apply a little dusting of cornstarch or unmedicated talcum powder to the area to keep it comfortable.
- Let the air in. Moisture can further irritate the thin skin of the anal area. Wearing loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear can allow air to circulate, which can be soothing.
- Don’t wipe with dry toilet tissue. Instead, try a moist towelette that slides along the skin and doesn’t pull at it. Make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol, which is drying and can further aggravate skin.
- Soothe with a numbing agent. Rubbing in a cream or ointment that contains witch hazel can numb sore hemorrhoids and relieve anal discomfort, while hydrocortisone creams can alleviate anal itch. However, check with your doctor before using these types of creams.
- Avoid re-injury. If you’re still straining to have a bowel movement while your hemorrhoids or anal fissures are healing, you’ll probably be in significant pain. You also run the risk of getting another hemorrhoid or re-opening your anal fissure before it is healed. Taking a stool softener can make bowel movements easier to pass while anal fissures and hemorrhoids heal.
- Apply an ice pack. Not only will this reduce anal discomfort, it will also help to alleviate the painful swelling of hemorrhoids.
- Take a pain reliever. Using an over-the-counter pain-relieving medication, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help manage anal discomfort and pain.
These fixes can only temporarily relieve anal discomfort, itch, and pain. You’ll need to identify the cause of the pain and resolve your digestive health issue to effectively treat the source of your anal discomfort.