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Rectal Abscess


A rectal abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms in your rectum. The abscess is caused by a bacterial infection.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe pain during a bowel movement, or pain that lasts for hours afterward.
  • You see blood in your bowel movement.
  • You see a tear in the anus, or a skin tag near the tear.
  • You have itching, burning, or irritation near your anus.
  • You have new or worsening pain or other symptoms.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to fight a bacterial infection or control pain. Ask your healthcare provider how to take pain medicine safely. You may also be given medicine to soften your bowel movements.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound as directed:

  • Change the bandage as directed. Always change the bandage if it gets wet or dirty.
  • Keep your skin clean. This will help prevent an infection. Ask your healthcare provider what to use to clean your skin. Check for signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, and pus.

Manage or prevent a rectal abscess:

The abscess may take a few weeks to heal. The following can help manage symptoms and prevent another abscess:

  • Prevent constipation. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads to increase the amount of fiber you have each day. Drink more liquids. Fiber and liquid help prevent constipation. It may also help to create a bowel movement routine. Do not strain to have a bowel movement. The strain may cause more damage.
  • Take sitz baths as directed. A sitz bath is a portable tub that fits into the toilet basin. You can also soak in a bathtub that has 4 to 6 inches of warm water. Stay in the sitz bath or tub for 15 to 20 minutes. Ask your healthcare provider how often to do this.
  • Apply warm compresses as directed. A warm compress may help relieve your symptoms. To make a warm compress, soak a small towel in warm water. Apply the compress to the area for 15 to 20 minutes. Ask your healthcare provider how often to do this.
  • Do not insert anything into your rectum unless directed. Items such as rectal thermometers and suppositories can cause damage while you are healing.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Your healthcare provider will check your wound. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.