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An anal fissure is a tear in the lining of your anus or anal canal, the lowest part of your intestinal tract. It can make bowel movements very painful, and can even cause pain that lasts for hours after you've gone to the bathroom. You may even try to avoid the bathroom to prevent the pain.

An anal fissure is usually a short-term (or acute) problem, with symptoms that last 6 weeks or less. It's considered chronic when symptoms last for more than 6 weeks. Chronic anal fissures may be harder to treat and may be a symptom of another condition, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Common Symptoms

If you have an acute anal fissure, you may feel a tearing or ripping sensation in that area during bowel movements. You may also notice:

  • A visible tear in the anus
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Blood on used toilet paper or wipes
  • Blood on the surface of stools
  • Bleeding that discolors toilet water
  • Bad-smelling discharge

Signs that a fissure has become chronic can include:

  • Painful bowel movements without bleeding
  • Itch and irritation of the skin around the anus
  • A skin tag at the end of a fissure

Acute anal fissures can also happen in babies. They're thought to be the most common cause of rectal bleeding for very young children. Signs that your child may have an anal fissure include:

  • Crying during bowel movements
  • Blood on the surface of stools or in soiled diapers
  • A visible tear in the anal area