Finding a lump anywhere on your body can be worrying, and this is especially true when it comes to anal lumps. People often feel embarrassed talking about having itchy bumps around the anus or a painful lump on the anus, however it’s important not to ignore these symptoms.
There are a wide variety of possible causes of a lump on your bumhole, most of which are treatable. To stand the best chance of a full recovery, an early diagnosis is key.
This page covers some of the most common causes of anal lumps, what type of symptoms to look out for, along with information about diagnosis and possible treatments.
Anal lumps causes
A wide range of different factors can cause the development of anal lumps. The appearance, feel, location and accompanying symptoms can help you to determine the reason for the small lump on your anus, however it’s important to get an appointment with a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. This in turn will allow you to find the best course of treatment.
One of the most common reasons for having itchy bumps around your anus is haemorrhoids. Also known as piles, these are enlarged blood vessels that can develop either inside or outside your bottom. They can look and feel like a pea-sized lump in the anus or around the edges of it.
In addition to the perianal lump itself, there are a number of other symptoms you might suffer from when you have piles. These include:
- Bleeding when you defecate (the blood is usually bright red)
- Pain, itchiness or soreness in the area
- Slimy mucus on the toilet paper after bowel movements
- Feeling as though you still need to defecate after having a poo
Haemorrhoids and the associated lump in the rectum or under the skin around the anus can be the result of several different factors. For instance, they could be from straining when you go to the toilet (common in constipation), lifting very heavy objects, and even the anal canal weakening naturally as you age. Piles are also common during pregnancy and after childbirth.
The good news is that the red or purple lumps on the anus from haemorrhoids normally go away within a few days or weeks of at-home treatments (see Treatment section below). However, in more severe cases you might want to consider hospital treatment.
There are a number of surgical and non-surgical options available, as well as creams and suppositories. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances.
An anal fissure lump can develop when small cuts, tears, sores or lesions occur in or around the anus. Around one in ten people experience such injuries at some point, and they are generally the result of damage to the lining of the anal canal or anus.
This could happen as a result of constipation (from an especially hard or large stool), persistent diarrhoea, or inflammatory bowel disease. It can also be due to pregnancy or childbirth, and even having unusually tight anal sphincter muscles.
Other common symptoms of an anal fissure include a sharp pain during bowel movements, a deep burning pain after defecating (which may last for several hours), and bleeding when you have a poo (usually the blood is bright red).
If you suspect that you are suffering from an anal fissure, it’s advisable to see a doctor. Most lesions heal within a few weeks, although depending on the cause they may come back. In some persistent cases where home remedies and medication aren’t sufficient, there are surgical options available.
Anal skin tags
A skin tag is a collection of excess skin, and those that form around the anus or rectum are referred to as anal skin tags. They are a benign and common issue, and often feel like a small lump on the anus that’s the same colour as your skin (or slightly darker).
There are many possible reasons why a person might develop anal skin tags. Some of the most common include:
- Irritation or friction (for example due to tight clothing, exercise, or long periods of sitting)
- Crohn’s disease
- Constipation and straining when defecating
- Diarrhoea (due to the acidic nature of stools and more frequent wiping with rough, dry toilet paper)
- As a side effect after haemorrhoids or other conditions such as anal fissures
In the majority of cases they aren’t painful and don’t bleed. In fact, some people don’t even notice that they have them.
However, in other instances anal skin tags can feel itchy, sensitive or uncomfortable. If that’s the case, they can be removed by a medical professional using techniques such as cryosurgery, scissor excision and electrocautery.
It’s vital that you don’t attempt to remove these skin tags – or any other type of anal lumps – yourself. This can be very painful and result in complications such as infection.
If you have a painful purple lump near your anus that looks a bit like a bruise, you might have a perianal haematoma. This develops when blood leaks from a burst blood vessel in the anal region and pools below the surface of the skin. The blood may then start to clot, which can make the condition more painful.
A perianal haematoma can be as small as about a centimetre across or as large as a golf ball. The bigger the lump, the more likely it is to cause pain and discomfort. They typically last for a week or two, although it can take longer for the actual perianal lump to disappear entirely.
Due to the fact that the blood vessels in this area are small and sensitive to pressure, there are many different factors that might cause them to burst. As such, a perianal haematoma can develop as a result of activities such as:
- Chronic constipation
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Lifting very heavy objects
- Severe coughing or sneezing
- Invasive medical procedures or surgery
- Spending a lot of time sitting down
The main symptoms to watch out for are a purple lump on the anus, pain and sensitivity to pressure, swelling, and difficulty sitting down. Bleeding may also occur, but tends to happen after the initial anal lumps have developed.
In the majority of cases a perianal haematoma will heal on its own. However, if you have one that is particularly large or painful, doctors may recommend having it drained or some of the blood removed with a syringe.
Anal warts are a type of genital warts found in and around the anus. They are generally quite small, and usually don’t cause any pain or discomfort.
In fact, some people might not even realise they have them. So if you spot a small white lump on your anus but have no other symptoms, it could be anal warts.
In cases where they grow larger, anal warts can become itchy or irritating. There’s also a risk that they will spread to the genitals, which might result in a lump between the vag and anus or warts on the vulva, cervix, penis or scrotum.
Anal warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection. It can be passed on by any skin-to-skin contact with the infected area.
There are a number of ways that anal warts can be treated, including a cream or liquid applied to the area, freezing the warts, and having surgery to remove them.
Another viral illness which can cause anal lumps is molluscum contagiosum. It results in lesions known as papules forming on the skin, which can vary in colour but are usually smooth, firm and domed in shape. They may feel itchy, but are unlikely to cause pain.
Most cases of molluscum contagiosum clear up on their own, but this can take several months. The virus is contagious, and squeezing or scratching the spots can spread it further on your body.
There are some treatments a doctor can recommend, ranging from topical creams and suppositories to minor procedures to remove the lumps.
A minor condition that can result in anal lumps is pimples. These generally feel like a soft lump on the anus that’s not painful. They typically form when pores in the skin become clogged with dead skin cells and oil, and then fill with pus as a result (similar to spots you may find elsewhere on your body).
Although not usually painful, irritation to the area can cause pimples to feel sore or uncomfortable.
The good news is that anal pimples tend to go away by themselves fairly easily. The best advice is to keep the area clean and dry, and avoid waxing or shaving because this will irritate the skin.
Finally, do not try and pop the pimples, because this may result in infection and make the situation worse.
If you find a hard lump near your anus under the skin, it’s understandable if you start to worry about cancer. The first point to note is that anal cancer is a rare disease, so anal lumps are more likely to be the result of other conditions such as those discussed above.
Having said that, catching any form of cancer early makes it more treatable. Therefore, if you are concerned about an anal cancer lump, it’s important to get it checked by a doctor as soon as possible.
Anal cancer sometimes presents with no symptoms at all, or ones which are similar to other conditions such as piles. The most common signs to watch out for include:
- Pain and itching around the anus
- Bleeding from the anus
- Mucus discharging from the anus
- Small anal lumps
- Bowel incontinence
- A need to defecate more frequently, and looser stools
These days anal cancer is usually treatable if detected early. The main treatment for the disease is chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy, which is a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Surgery may also be an option depending on the circumstances, and a specialist care team will create a treatment plan that’s appropriate for you.
When you visit your GP for anal lumps, they will normally begin by asking questions about your symptoms, toilet habits, and other relevant factors. In many cases they may also wish to do a visual examination of your anus. This is often sufficient to diagnose the issue, however it might also be necessary to do a physical examination.
There are a few different methods by which a doctor can conduct a rectal examination. They might need to insert a lubricated, gloved finger into the anus in order to check for any abnormalities. Alternatively, if you have a lump in the rectum then they may want to insert a camera inside to get a better look.
Lots of people feel embarrassed about the prospect of talking to their GP about anus lumps, or having these diagnostic tests done. However, although such feelings are natural, it’s important not to let them stand in the way of getting diagnosed and treated. In almost every situation, early detection gives you a better chance of a full and speedy recovery.
Remember, doctors are used to seeing patients with anal lumps and other such conditions. They will ensure that you feel comfortable throughout your appointment, and are always treated with respect and dignity.
Don’t forget that you can request a male or female doctor to do any examinations depending on what makes you feel more at ease. If it helps, you can also bring a friend along with you for moral support.
Treatment of anal lumps
As discussed above, there are many different treatments available for anal lumps. Your doctor will prescribe the right course of action depending on the exact diagnosis. This could be anything from a topical ointment, suppositories, laxatives or a surgical procedure.
In addition to medical treatment, there are several remedies you can use to either prevent or treat anal lumps caused by constipation, haemorrhoids, anal fissures and similar factors. They include simple lifestyle changes and at-home methods such as:
- Eating plenty of fibre as part of a balanced diet (like brown rice, wholewheat pasta, pulses, fruit and vegetables)
- Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day to ensure you stay hydrated
- Exercising regularly and staying active through the day
- Avoiding sitting down for prolonged periods of time
- Not ignoring the need to defecate
- Not straining when defecating
- Taking painkillers to ease discomfort
- Taking a mild laxative
- Having a warm bath to soothe the area and ease itching
- Using damp toilet paper instead of dry, to avoid irritating the skin
- Keeping the area clean and dry
- Using a cool compress on the affected area
- Sitting on a doughnut-shaped pillow rather than a hard surface
Anal lumps FAQs
When should you see a doctor about anal lumps?
As a general rule, if you ever have a palpable lump in the anus it’s advisable to see a doctor about it. In the vast majority of cases it’s likely to be benign, however it’s best to be certain by getting an official diagnosis. Don’t let embarrassment or a fear of wasting the GP’s time prevent you from booking an appointment.
What symptoms of anal lumps should I be concerned about?
If you have anal lumps, you’re probably experiencing other symptoms too. Many of these are nothing to worry about, however if you have any of the following then you should speak to a doctor promptly:
- Non-stop or heavy bleeding
- Severe pain that spreads or gets worse
- Broader accompanying symptoms such as fever, swelling and redness
- Unexplained changes in bowel movements
- Pus-like discharge from the anal lumps
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