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Anal Infections / Abscess

About Anal Infections / Abscess

The most common type of anal infection is something called an abscess. It results from one of the glands in the anus becoming plugged and causes a painful bacterial infection in the tissue surrounding the anus. It may become quite large and spread to other areas. Some of these are self limited while others may turn into fistulas (see section on fistulas). There are a number of other rare types of anal infections that typically affect people with immunocompromised states such as HIV, those on chemotherapy for cancer treatment, or those on immunosuppression medication after organ transplant.


Diagnosis requires evaluation by an experienced physician. The most common symptoms are pain around the anus, fevers, chills, and drainage of pus from the area. A brief examination in the office or in the emergency room can make the diagnosis.

Treatment for Abscess:

Immediate treatment of peri-anal abscess involves a small incision in the skin to drain the pus. This incision can either be left open to drain, packed with a small amount of gauze, or have a small tube or catheter placed inside to continue draining the infection. Once the infection is drained, the body is allowed to heal. About half of people will have no further problems. The other half may develop a fistula-in-ano, or abnormal connection between the inside of the rectum or anus and the skin (see other section on fistulas).

For more information on abscess, visit the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website.

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