Anal Fissure

What is an anal fissure?

An anal fissure is a tear in the anal canal. The tear in the anal canal usually occurs when a child is constipated and forces a large, hard stool (bowel movement).

The tear makes passing stool (defecating) very painful. Because of the pain, your child may not go to the bathroom when needed. This may lead to chronic constipation.

Anal fissures are the most common cause of bloody stools in babies and young children.

Anal Fissure
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An anal fissure is a small tear or crack in the skin of the anus.

Signs and symptoms of an anal fissure

Some of the signs and symptoms of an anal fissure are:

  • Babies will cry and show discomfort when passing stool.
  • Blood may cover the surface of the hard stool.
  • Older children may avoid passing stool to avoid the pain of the anal fissure.
  • There may be a visible tear or cut along the anal opening.

Treating anal fissures

Treating anal fissures begin with treating the constipation. The doctor may prescribe stool softeners. Also, add more fibre and fluid (liquid) to your child’s diet. Wholegrain cereals, breads, fruit – especially prunes – and vegetables are good sources of fibre.

Once the hard stools turn to soft stools, the anal fissure will have the chance to heal. Until your child’s fissure has completely healed, you can apply a layer of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide cream to your child’s anus. This will help make passing stool less painful.

Key points

  • An anal fissure is a tear in the anal canal.

  • These tears may lead to chronic constipation.

  • Anal fissures are the most common cause of bloody stools in babies.

  • Constipation can be treated with stool softeners and by getting more fibre in the diet.

  • Until your child’s fissure has completely healed, apply petroleum jelly or zinc oxide cream to your child’s anus to make passing stool less painful.

Sheila Jacobson, MBBCh, FRCPC

5/14/2010




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