Many glands are found within the body’s anus. If one of these glands becomes clogged,
it can get infected, and an abscess can develop. An anorectal abscess is a collection
of pus under the skin in the area of the anus and rectum.
These are possible signs of an anorectal abscess:
Pain or discomfort near the anus or buttocks
Constipation or painful bowel movements
Swelling or redness near the anus
Lump or painful hardened tissue near the anus
Pain in the lower abdomen
Pus drainage near the anus or buttocks
What are the risk factors?
These conditions may increase your chance of developing an anorectal abscess:
Crohn’s disease, which is an inflammatory bowel condition
Certain medicines, such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment
Drugs that suppress the immune system after an organ transplant
Foreign objects placed in the rectum (usually during sex)
Anal fissures, or cracks, related to constipation that continues for a long time
Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
In most cases, your healthcare provider can diagnose an anorectal abscess by looking
externally at the anus and through a digital rectal exam. This test involves the healthcare
provider inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into your anus. A speculum can be inserted
to allow the whole anal area to be seen. In some instances, a healthcare provider
will need to do a proctosigmoidoscopy. This is a test in which a flexible tube with
a light and a camera is placed in the anus to see the area. In other instances, an
MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound might be needed to find out where the location of the
The healthcare provider will probably treat your anorectal abscess by making a hole
in the skin near the anus so the pus can drain. This relieves the uncomfortable pressure
and lets the tissues heal. Often the procedure can be done in a healthcare provider's
office. If you have a large or deep abscess, you might need to be in the hospital,
In addition, in some instances a full anorectal exam must be done under anesthesia
in the operating room before deciding on the best course of treatment. Healthcare
providers can more carefully watch your condition in the hospital as the abscess is
drained. You may also need to be in the hospital if your immune system is weak and
you are prone to infection. In these cases, you might be given local anesthesia to
help ease pain. In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics.
About half of people with an anorectal abscess develop an anal fistula. This is an
abnormal opening in the skin near the anus. Pus bursts from the abscess and seeps
out. A fistula usually needs surgery to repair it. Pain, infections, and recurrence
are other possible complications of anorectal abscess.
You can reduce your chances of developing this condition by managing diabetes, STDs,
and other risk factors. If you have inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's, medicines
are usually needed to help avoid anorectal problems like abscess.
When to call the healthcare provider
An anorectal abscess needs immediate medical attention before other complications
happen. If you have any pain, discomfort, or swelling in the anus or rectum, see your
healthcare provider to find out the cause.