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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Peh Wei Jie and Dr Angelica L Dumapit on February 21, 2023

How To Heal An Anal Abscess Quickly

An anal abscess occurs when one of the mucus-secreting glands near your anus gets clogged and infected. These treatment options can help with the pain, discomfort, and swelling.

Anal abscess min scaled

An anal abscess can be a pain in the butt to deal with – literally. It happens when mucus-secreting glands in the anus get clogged and infected.

Although they aren’t usually life-threatening, they can cause extreme pain and discomfort. It can also make it hard for you to use the bathroom.

Read on to learn what causes an anal abscess, how to spot one, and treatment options to ease symptoms.

What Is An Anal Abscess?

An anal abscess is a pus-filled lump located near your anus (the hole in your buttocks).

Your anus contains many mucus-secreting glands. When one gets clogged, it can become infected and lead to an abscess.

What causes them?

A man in a blue shirt checking his blood sugar levels
People with diabetes are prone to getting anal abscesses.

The most common risk factor for the development of anal and rectal abscesses is having a specific type of health condition. These include: 

  • Diverticulitis: inflammation and infection of the bulges located in the colon wall
  • Inflammatory bowel disease  
  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) 
  • Sexually-transmitted infections 

Likewise, smokingpregnancy, immune-system-suppressing medication like prednisone, and frequent constipation or diarrhea can also provoke abscess onset.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s believed that anal abscesses stem from disorders or imbalances in the Governor Vessel (Du Mai), Conception Vessel (Ren Mai), and large intestine.

How is it diagnosed?

Most anal abscesses are diagnosed after clinical findings. These findings can also show the presence of a fistula, a small tunnel that connects the lump to a skin opening around the anus. 

A healthcare provider may use traditional two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) endoanal ultrasounds. These minimally invasive diagnostic methods involve an assessment of the anal canal structure and are effective at:

  • Diagnosing a perirectal abscess 
  • Identifying horseshoe abscess (a circumferential spread of lumps around the anus or rectum) 
  • Mapping out a fistula path 

A computerized tomography (CT) scan can help diagnose severe infections, such as multiple fistula tracts or Crohn’s disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a reliable way to discover internal openings and detail the fistula tract.

How To Treat An Anal Abscess

Once diagnosed, your healthcare provider may recommend a surgical drainage procedure to treat the problem. Meanwhile, a TCM practitioner will recommend herbal remedies to calm the accompanying symptoms of an anal abscess and support post-surgery recovery. 

Surgical drainage 

This procedure involves an incision in the skin near the anus to drain pus and fluid from an infection. It’s performed in a clinical physician’s procedure room while a person is under local anesthesia.

How to heal from anal abscess surgery

Image of high fiber foods
Eating a high-fiber diet can help with difficult bowel movements to reduce anal pain and swelling.

Combining healthy habits and pharmaceutical medication use can help promote post-surgery healing.

  • Taking a sitz bath several times daily can soothe pain and swelling. This method requires a person to submerge their anus and genital area in a tub of warm water for a brief period.
  • A healthcare provider may give antibiotics to stop an infection. In addition, you can buy hydrocortisone over the counter or with a prescription.
  • Increasing fiber and water intake and using laxatives or stool softeners can help avoid painful bowel movements.

TCM can help keep the surgical wound clean and promote healing. Herbs like pubescent Angelica root (du huo), Dahurian Angelica root (bai zhi), and figwort root (xuan shen) are ground into a powder and mixed with sesame oil. The mix is applied externally to the lump to resolve Dampness, relieve pain, and nourish a person’s yin

Meanwhile, American Wild Ginseng and Tian Qi capsules can be consumed to reduce swelling, alleviate pain, and promote blood circulation for a faster recovery.

How Do You Treat A Fistula?

Be mindful that fistulas are a complication of an anal abscess and not part of the condition itself. It’s usually suspected in people experiencing pain, bleeding, swelling, or discharge. 

Fistulotomy 

The most common surgical procedure for treating anal fistulas is a fistulotomy. A healthcare provider is required to cut along the entire length of the fistula, enabling it to heal as a flat scar.

If a person is likely to develop urinary incontinence, a different surgical procedure may be recommended instead.

Herbal tonics  

The main objectives of using traditional remedies are to clear Heat, expel toxins, alleviate swelling, avoid recurring infections, and maintain normal anal functions.

“Acute swelling and sudden pain around the anus accompanied with fever, chills, insomnia, and constipation is characteristic of Damp-Heat accumulation in the large intestine. Consuming too many alcoholic beverages and pungent or spicy foods contribute to the syndrome.”

TCM Physician Peh Wei Jie. 

Cooling herbs like forsythia (lian qiao), foxglove root (sheng di huang) and garden burnet root (di yu) can help correct this body constitution imbalance.

To reduce swelling and pain, a person may consume herbs that boost blood circulation and address Stagnation. These include Chinese Angelica (dang gui) and Szechwan lovage rhizome (chuan xiong) 

“Recurring and prolonged pain in the anus, a dark yet dull swelling of its surrounding skin, and low-grade fever are symptoms of Blood and Qi (vital life force) Stagnation with residual Heat in the blood. Sexual hyperactivity, too much sitting, and physical trauma to the anus are common causes of this syndrome.” 

TCM Physician Peh Wei Jie. 

It can be treated with herbs that cool the Blood and remove Stagnation, such as pollen (tian hua fen), red peony root (chi shao) and Danshen root (dan shen).

Anemarrhena rhizome (zhi mu) and Japanese catnip (jing jie) can help regulate qi circulation and boost Yin (passive energy) Deficiencies. 

TCM Can Help You Recover From An Anal Abscess

Surgery remains the best treatment option for an anal abscess, and TCM remedies can help fix internal disorders. Speak to a licensed practitioner before using herbal ingredients and avoid self-medicating. Doing so will prevent contraindications, especially if you’re also undergoing clinical treatment or using pharmaceuticals.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Perianal Abscess
  2. American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons. Abscess and Fistula Expanded Information.  
  3. National Health Service. Treatment – Anal fistula
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis of the Colon.

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