What is perirectal abscess?

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Perirectal abscess: Overview

A perirectal abscess is an infection that causes a pocket of pus near the anus. The area may itch and be quite painful. Most abscesses are caused by a blocked anal gland that gets infected. It also can be caused by a tear, or fissure, in the anus. Diseases that affect the colon, such as Crohn's disease, also may cause the condition.

Your doctor may have drained the abscess to help treat the infection. The doctor also may have prescribed antibiotics. Care at home can help you heal.

You may have had a sedative to help you relax. You may be unsteady after having sedation. It can take a few hours for the effects of the medicine to wear off. Common side effects of sedation include nausea, vomiting, and feeling sleepy or tired.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Anorectal abscess

An anorectal abscess is a pocket of pus in the tissue near the end of the rectum (anus). Most abscesses are caused by a blocked anal gland that develops an infection.

Other possible causes of an anorectal abscess include:

  • Infection in an anal fissure.
  • Complications of diseases that affect the colon, such as Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or diverticulitis.
  • Sexually transmitted infections.

Symptoms of an anorectal abscess include:

  • A painful swelling (mass) around the anus.
  • Drainage of pus from the anus.
  • Fever.
  • Pain in or around the anus.
  • Pain when passing stool.

A person should see a doctor if an anorectal abscess is suspected. Treatment is needed to prevent worsening of the infection and serious illness.

How can you care for a perirectal abscess?

  • If the doctor gave you a sedative:
    • For 24 hours, don't do anything that requires attention to detail. This includes going to work, making important decisions, or signing any legal documents. It takes time for the medicine's effects to completely wear off.
    • For your safety, do not drive or operate any machinery that could be dangerous. Wait until the medicine wears off and you can think clearly and react easily.
  • Sit in a few inches of warm water (sitz bath) 3 times a day and after bowel movements. The warm water helps with pain and itching.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions if you were sent home with a drain or packing in the abscess.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Use stool softeners as directed.
  • Avoid scented and colored toilet paper, which may irritate the anal area.
  • Clean the area gently with wet cotton balls, a warm washcloth, baby wipes, or wipes such as Preparation H or Tucks.

Perirectal abscess in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.
  • Your child is very sleepy and is hard to wake up.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.