A tear or open sore in the skin around the anus may cause burning and sharp pain when you have a bowel movement. This is called an anal or rectal fissure.
People suffering from constipation are at a higher risk of suffering from this problem because hard or large stools can tear the lining of the anus.
However, there are other possible causes like persistent diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, straining during childbirth, tight anal sphincter muscles, and, in rare cases, a sexually transmitted infection, such as syphilis or herpes.
The most common symptoms include itching followed by a sharp pain (brief or long-lasting) or bleeding when you pass stools. Most people observe bright red blood either in their stool or on the toilet paper.
These uncomfortable sensations can be scary, but there are a few home remedies you can use to help reduce pain and heal your fissures within a few days to a week. If they do not heal within a couple of weeks, seek medical attention.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for anal fissures.
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in healthy fats that will lubricate your bowel system, allowing the stool to pass easily. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce pain caused by anal fissures.
A 2006 study published in the Scientific World Journal showed that patients with anal fissures noticed reduction in pain, bleeding and itching after using a mixture of olive oil, honey and beeswax.
- Mix equal amounts of olive oil, honey and beeswax in a bowl.
- Warm it in a microwave until the beeswax melts completely.
- Allow it to cool, then apply it on the affected area.
- Repeat a few times daily.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has natural healing powers and pain-relieving properties that can ease symptoms of anal fissures and help repair damaged skin tissue.
A 2014 study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences found that a topical cream containing aloe vera juice was an effective treatment for chronic anal fissures.
- Cut off one leaf of an aloe vera plant. Slice it lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the gel.
- Apply some of this gel on the affected area.
- Do this a few times a day.
3. Hot Sitz Bath
To alleviate the discomforts and promote healing, try a hot sitz bath. It will help increase blood flow to the anal area, which aids healing of minor tears or splits in the tissue. It also helps reduce pain, swelling and itching.
- Fill a large bathtub with warm water.
- Add a few drops of lavender essential oil and stir well.
- Sit still in the bathtub up to your waist for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Take this sitz bath 2 to 3 times a day.
Note: You can also take a hot sitz bath or simpy apply a warm compress after bowel movements.
Comfrey is a popular herb that can promote healing and relieve pain when suffering from anal fissures. Both the root and leaves have medicinal properties that help regenerate skin tissues and promote rapid cell growth. This accelerates the healing process.
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried comfrey to 1 cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and allow it to cool. Use the solution to clean the affected area 2 or 3 times a day.
- Also, use warm comfrey tea as a compress for the affected area.
- Another option is to apply an over-the-counter comfrey ointment on the affected area 2 or 3 times a day.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another helpful home remedy for anal fissures. Being rich in medium-chain triglycerides, this oil easily penetrates into the skin, keeps the affected area lubricated and starts the healing process.
- Apply coconut oil to the anal sphincter 2 or 3 times a day. In cases of chronic anal fissures, apply coconut oil several times a day.
- If you suffer from constipation or any kind of digestive problems, try adding coconut oil to your diet.
6. L-arginine Gel
Arginine, also known as L-arginine, is an amino acid that promotes healing of anal fissures by increasing nitric oxide flow to the affected site.
A 2005 study published in Diseases of the Colon and Rectum found that local application of L-arginine gel promotes fissure healing without side effects. The gel is even effective in patients not responding to isosorbide dinitrate treatment.
Apply over-the-counter L-arginine gel on the affected area a few times daily.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Constipation and straining during bowel movements can cause or worsen anal fissures. Apple cider vinegar is an effective treatment for constipation.
Pectin, a water-soluble fiber in apple cider vinegar, improves digestion and promotes bowel movements.
- Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
- Otionally, add some raw honey to it.
- Drink it twice daily.
Flaxseed contains fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that can help treat constipation, which often causes and worsens anal fissures. It has a laxative property, which eases the need to strain during a bowel movement.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of flaxseed powder in a glass of water. Drink it once daily before going to bed. This will regulate your bowel movements.
- You can also take flaxseed capsules. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
Following a high-fiber diet will encourage regular bowel movements. Regular fiber intake results in softer stools that are passed easily, so you do not have to use much pressure during a bowel movement, thus avoiding damage to the lining of the anus.
- Include high-fiber foods in your diet, such as quinoa, oatmeal, prunes, buckwheat, legumes, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Psyllium, also known as isabgol, is also considered a good source of fiber.
- You can also opt for fiber supplements after consulting your doctor.
Note: When increasing your fiber intake, especially when taking psyllium, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid gastrointestinal discomforts.
To promote healing of anal fissures, it is important to maintain proper hygiene. First of all, keep the affected area clean and dry, as moisture can increase the risk of bacterial infections.
- After each bowel movement, wipe the area with soft toilet paper. Avoid using rough and scented toilet papers, which can cause irritation.
- After taking a bath, gently dab some baby powder around the affected area to keep it dry.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear to allow air to circulate.
- Do not sit in the same position for long periods of time, as it may lead to a buildup of moisture in the anal area.
- Avoid straining during bowel movements, as it can open a healing tear or cause a new tear to develop.
- To prevent anal fissures in infants, change their diapers frequently.
- If suffering from diarrhea, treat it immediately.
- Avoid constipating foods, such as bananas, white rice, cheese and other dairy products, chocolate, large amounts of red meat, chips and fried foods.
- Keep your body hydrated by drinking adequate fluids to soften your stools and prevent constipation.
- Regular physical activity of at least 30 minutes daily will promote regular bowel movements and increase anal blood flow. You can try walking, yoga, stretching, light housework or gardening.
- Avoid biking, heavy weight-lifting and any form of exercise that requires you to strain.
- Sitting on hard surfaces can be very painful, so use a soft pillow to ease pressure on the anal area.
- Avoid scratching, which will only exacerbate the condition.