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Perirectal Abscess

What is it?

A perirectal (pair-e-rek-tull) abscess (ab-sess) is a pocket of pus in the tissues around the rectum. The rectum is the last part of the bowel (intestine) that ends at the anus


A perirectal abscess is caused by a germ called a bacteria (back-teer-e-uh). Bacteria may enter the skin through a tear in the skin. You can get tears in the skin if you are constipated. Being constipated means it is hard for you to have a BM. Pushing too hard can cause the tissue in the rectum to tear. Injury to the rectum, such as using enemas or having anal sex can also cause the tissue to tear. You may be more likely to get this problem if you have diabetes (di-uh-b-tees) or are on steroid (stair-oid) medicine.

Signs and Symptoms:

A perirectal abscess is a lump that can be felt in the tissues near or around the rectum. The lump is tender and firm, and usually moves when pushed on. You may also have rectal pain and a fever. If you can see the abscess on the skin, it is usually red, swollen, and tender when touched.


  • Tests: You may need one or more of the following tests to help care givers plan your treatment.
    • Anoscopy: This test lets caregivers look inside your anus and rectum. Petroleum jelly is put onto a short, plastic or metal tube. The tube is then gently pushed into your anus and up the rectum. Your caregiver can take samples of BM to be sent to a lab for tests. This helps him find the cause of your problem.
    • Colonoscopy(ko-lun-oss-kuh-p): This is a test used to look at the part of your intestine called the colon. A tube with a light on the end is gently put into your anus. It is then pushed into the colon. Your caregiver can then look inside the colon to find the cause of your problem.
    • Sigmoidoscopy(sig-moid-oss-kuh-p): This is a test to look at the parts of your intestine called the sigmoid and the rectum. Both are the lower parts of your bowel near the anus. A tube with a light on the end is gently pushed into your anus. It is then pushed into the bowel. Your caregiver can then look inside the sigmoid and rectum to find the cause of your problem.
  • Treatment Options: Your treatment may change if your perirectal abscess does not heal. This is often decided after you have tests. You may have some of the following treatments alone or together.
    • Diet: Eat foods high in fibers to keep from becoming constipated. This will make it easier to have a BM and help to keep from getting more tears in your rectum. Also, do not use enemas or have anal sex.
    • Medicines: You may need antibiotic or anti-fungal medicine to help you fight infection caused by a germ called bacteria (bak-teer-e-uh). You may also be given stool softeners to keep you from getting constipated (kon-stih-pa-ted). Constipated means it is hard have a BM. Stool softeners make your BM softer so you do not need to strain when having a BM.
    • Surgery: You may need surgery to have the abscess opened and drained of the pus.


Without treatment you could get a tear or hole in your rectum or anus where BM could get caught. Also, without treatment the infection may also spread to other parts of your body and make you very sick. If you are not treated, the abscess can keep coming back if the cause of it is not fixed. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your medicine or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.