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What Is Anal Fissure Ointment?

By Valerie Goldberg
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Anal fissure ointment is a common treatment for rectal tears also known as anal fissures. There is more than one type of fissure ointment available. Nitroglycerin ointment is a popular variety, but ointments containing zinc oxide or hydrocortisone also can be used.

Constipation, hard stool and chronic diarrhea are some of the most common causes of anal fissures. A person suffering from an anal fissure may experience pain with bowel movements and also may notice blood in his or her stool. A sufferer of rectal pain or bleeding should be checked by a doctor to confirm that he or she has an anal fissure. Self-diagnosing is not recommended because, in rare cases, there can be a more serious underlying condition involved.

Time will heal the bulk of anal fissures, but doctors may recommend using fissure ointment because patients may be very uncomfortable while the tear is healing. Nitroglycerin ointment can help with anal fissure pain because the substance will help to slow down muscle spasms in the area. Patients should use a cotton ball or a cotton swab to apply the fissure ointment. Sterile gloves also should be worn to avoid infecting the tear. Dizziness and headaches can be side effects of nitroglycerin.

Zinc oxide ointment is sometimes prescribed to patients who are suffering from rectal itching as a result of an anal fissure. Scratching an anal fissure is not recommended, because that can lead to infection or excessive rectal bleeding. Ointment containing zinc oxide works to make the rectal area less painful and itchy, helping patients reduce the urge to scratch.

Hydrocortisone rectal fissure ointment works in a capacity similar to zinc oxide ointment. Inflammation of the anal area can be reduced by the use of hydrocortisone ointment, leading to a more comfortable healing period for patients. Anal fissure sufferers should let their doctor know if they have any kidney or heart problems, because hydrocortisone may not be the best type of treatment for patients with these existing issues.

When time and anal fissure ointments do not heal a person's rectal tear, surgery may be necessary. Surgery can help to calm muscle spasms and may work to speed the healing process. Anal fissures can be avoided by drinking plenty of water and eating high-fiber foods to promote healthy bowel movements with no straining involved. People who suffer from chronic constipation as a side effect of long-term medication use should talk to their doctor about other ways to improve bowel function.

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Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Aug 20, 2013

I think my fissure ointment is treating the tear and reducing inflammation. But it's not doing much for the pain or itching. I can't even sit down properly!

By candyquilt — On Aug 19, 2013

@fify-- I have chronic fissures and have to use ointments a lot. I don't like the applicator that comes with fissure ointments either. They're not hygienic unless you wash it after each use and who's going to take the time to do that?

I personally wash my hand and use my index finger to apply the ointment. I mostly apply it on the outside of the fissure and a tiny bit inside. If you're not comfortable with that, just use a clean cotton swab.

I usually use the ointment three times a day but you should follow the directions that came with your ointment.

By fify — On Aug 19, 2013

I've just been prescribed an anal fissure ointment medication. I've never used one before. The pharmacist said to use the applicator and apply about two pea-sized amount of the ointment into the rectum twice a day.

I just tried the applicator and it was a failure. I ended up making a mess.

How do most people apply fissure ointment? With a cotton swab, a finger or the applicator?

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