7 causes of anal bumps
The anus is the endpoint of the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract. It is where stool exits the body.
A person may wish to better understand their symptoms by touching the anus and surrounding area. It is crucial to wash the hands before and after doing so to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Anal fissure. Image credit: Bernardo Gui, 2010.
Hemorrhoids. Image credit: Prof. Dr. Alexander Herold, 2012.
Anal skin tags. Image credit: Tmalonetn, 2010.
Anal warts. Image credit: Colorecta, 2011.
Molluscum contagiosum. Image credit: Bray, D., 2011.
Anal cancer. Image credit: Analkanal-Karzinom, 2011.
Anal fissures are small cuts or tears that occur in or on the anus.
They may result from passing hard stool, which can tear the delicate skin of the anus.
When a fissure starts to heal, it can form a skin tag that may feel like a lump.
An anal fissure may cause:
- bleeding, often after passing hard stool
- a burning or tearing sensation during a bowel movement
- pain, which may last for several days after passing hard stool
If an anal fissure is not showing signs of healing, a doctor might recommend Botox injections or a simple surgical procedure called a sphincterotomy.
To treat an anal fissure at home, a person can:
- eat a high-fiber diet
- use temporary laxatives
- use diltiazem ointment
Sitting in a shallow tub of lukewarm water can also help ease any discomfort. This is called taking a sitz bath.
Hemorrhoids are enlargements of anal tissue. They result from swollen veins in the rectum and anus, and they may be internal or external.
Hemorrhoids are very common — they affect up to 75% of people in the United States at some point in their lives, according to an article in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- painless rectal bleeding
- itching in the anal region
- pain or discomfort in the area, especially during and after bowel movements
- swelling around the anus that may form a lump
Pregnant women and older adults have a higher risk of developing hemorrhoids.
If hemorrhoids are severe, a doctor may recommend surgical removal. However, a person can usually treat smaller or less serious hemorrhoids at home.
This typically involves:
- using a hemorrhoid cream, such as one that contains phenylephrine
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen
- taking sitz baths
When treating hemorrhoids at home:
- eat a high-fiber diet
- drink plenty of water
- avoid rubbing the area after bowel movements
- avoid straining
- avoid using perfumed soaps and other products
Other nonsurgical options
A doctor may remove internal hemorrhoids by:
- rubber band ligation, a minimally invasive procedure that stops the supply of blood to the hemorrhoid
- coagulation therapy, which involves using infrared light to stop the blood supply
Anal skin tags
Anal skin tags are collections of excess skin around the anus. A tag may feel like a small lump or buildup of tissue.
Anal skin tags can result from hemorrhoids or healing anal fissures.
They typically do not cause symptoms, but rubbing the tags excessively can cause discomfort or mild bleeding, and larger tags can cause other symptoms.
Before treatment for anal skin tags can begin, a doctor must diagnose the underlying cause. This may involve surgically removing a tag.
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An anal pimple may feel like a soft, fluid-filled bump. Irritation can cause these pimples to become sore or otherwise uncomfortable.
Do not pop these pimples, as doing so can result in infection.
To treat or prevent anal pimples:
- keep the area dry and clean
- refrain from shaving or waxing the area
- eat a healthful diet
Some symptoms of anal warts include:
- a feeling of fullness or discomfort in the anal area
- mucous discharge
Treatment of anal warts depends on their size and number.
A person typically uses topical medications, such as those that contain podophyllin and bichloracetic acid.
Alternately, a doctor may recommend cryotherapy, which involves freezing off the warts.
It is also worth remembering that 90% of HPV infections clear up within 2 years.
Anyone who thinks that they may have anal warts should consult a doctor.
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral illness that causes lesions, called papules, to form on the skin.
The papules may be clear, yellow, flesh colored, red, or pink. They are firm and typically smooth and domed.
When molluscum contagiosum is transmitted through sex, these lesions commonly develop on the lower stomach, upper thighs, anus, and genital region.
A person may have only a few papules or many that vary in size.
Molluscum contagiosum sometimes goes away without treatment, but this can take several months.
To treat molluscum contagiosum, a doctor may:
- recommend a topical ointment, many of which contain podophyllotoxin, salicylic acid, or potassium hydroxide
- remove papules with lasers or by freezing them off
Anal cancer involves cancerous cells being present in the anus. The cells may collect to form a mass, or lump, though this does not always happen.
Some other indications of anal cancer include:
- changes in bowel movements, such as passing very narrow stool
- discharge from the anal area that may be mucous
- pain in the area
- rectal bleeding
- rectal itching
- swollen lymph nodes in the groin
A person with any of these symptoms should talk to a doctor. They may refer the person to a gastrointestinal specialist who can perform an examination and recommend further testing.
Treatment of anal cancer can involve:
When to see a doctor
A person should see a doctor if they notice:
- unexplained changes in bowel movements
- pain or frequent discomfort in the rectal area, particularly with bowel movements
- pus-like discharge from an anal lump
- symptoms of a systemic infection, such as a fever, swelling, or redness
- increasing amounts of blood on toilet paper
A doctor will begin by listening to a person's symptoms, and they will then perform a visual and physical examination of the anal opening.
The doctor may be able to identify the issue based on visual inspection alone. Or, they may need a small tissue sample for analysis.
The doctor may recommend further examination, such as a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Both involve inserting a thin, lighted tube with a camera into the anal canal to look for any abnormalities.
A colonoscopy can help determine whether any abnormalities extend throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
Various issues can cause a bump to form in, on, or around the anus. Most of these causes are treatable, and some are more serious than others. A person should not ignore persistent anal bleeding or discomfort.
If a person experiences changes in bowel movements, anal bleeding, or severe pain, they should see a doctor.