An abscess is simply a cavity containing infected pus that is surrounded by inflamed tissue. Anal abscesses, also known as anorectal abscesses form two types: perirectal and perianal. Perirectal abscesses form deep in the tissue surrounding the anus while perianal abscesses form just under the skin near the anus. Both are very dangerous and require immediate attention from a doctor. Do not attempt to self-medicate as antibiotics or other medications will not work on the infection. PH levels in the sealed abscess are so low that antibiotics will not work until the pus is drained surgically. Such an infection can spread from the localized abscess to the rest of the body, become systemic and life-threatening.
Since perianal abscesses appear just under the skin of the anus, they may be mistaken for an external hemorrhoid. The symptoms may begin with increasing dull, aching or throbbing pain in the anal area or buttocks and the formation of a lump in the anal area. Painful bowel movements and lower abdominal pain will follow. The pain is worse during sitting and right before bowel movements. As the infection progresses and becomes systemic, fever, fatigue and night sweats may follow. The pain can become very severe at this point when a change in the body position occurs, such as rolling over, standing after sitting etc.. Such an infection can progress quickly, so it is vital that you seek immediate medical attention. Systemic infections can be fatal in a relatively short period of time.
What causes an anal abscess? Both types are thought to form from glands that surround the anorectal canal and burrow into the internal anal sphincter muscle. These glands can become plugged, and with the bacteria present in the anal canal, become infected. As the infection continues, the abscess can grow, sometimes forming an opening on the skin near the perimeter of the anus. At this point, an anal fistula has formed. This is essentially a channel leading from the interior of the anal canal to the surface of the skin surrounding the anus. If this occurs, the abscess may burst, releasing pus in the process. Although temporary relief may occur with this release of pressure, the underlying condition will still need attention and is still very dangerous.
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