Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

What Causes Anal Fissures?

An anal fissure is a cut or a tear in the thin, delicate lining of your anus.

The tear often exposes the muscle around the anus, called the anal sphincter. The damage can cause that muscle to spasm, which can pull apart the edges of the fissure even more. The spasms can cause pain and slow down the healing. Bowel movements can also keep the fissures from getting better.

Recommended Related to Digestive Disorders

Queasy? Crampy? Bloated?

By Janis Graham Stuffing? Check. Stiff drinks? Check. Stress? Check. 'Tis the season -- for stomachaches. "The holidays create a perfect storm for stomach problems because of all the eating, traveling, and partying," says Roger D. Mitty, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston. And women are especially vulnerable, since some gastrointestinal ills occur up to six times more often in women than in men. What's more, a recent survey found that during the holidays,...

Read the Queasy? Crampy? Bloated? article > >

An anal fissure is considered acute if it recently happened or if you've had it less than 6 weeks. It's considered chronic if it's been more than 6 weeks or it comes back often.

Who Gets Anal Fissures?

These tears are common, although you might think the pain and bleeding are symptoms of other conditions, like hemorrhoids. They can happen to both men and women. They can also happen to babies.

Adults between 20 and 40 are most likely to get them. But you can have them at any age, even though your risk generally goes down as you get older.

Anal fissures are seen more often with certain medical conditions, such as:

Why Do People Get Anal Fissures?

They're caused by trauma or injury that stretches your anal canal. Reasons for this can include:

Less often, having anal sex or putting things into your anus can overstretch the skin and cause a fissure.

Too much pressure, tight anal sphincter muscles, and poor blood supply to your anus may lead to their development and poor healing.

Anal fissures don't usually give way to more serious problems. They don’t cause cancer. But they can be very uncomfortable.

To help these fissures heal and keep them from coming back:

  • Eat a healthy diet that has plenty of fiber.
  • Stay well-hydrated.
  • Avoid being constipated.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on November 25, 2014

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
top foods for probiotics
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea