Perianal Crohn’s disease is a type of Crohn’s disease that causes inflammation around your anus. It can lead to pain, swelling, bleeding, and incontinence. It can occur with any type of Crohn’s disease and impacts around 25 percent of people who have Crohn’s. It can also occur on its own.

Just like other types of Crohn’s disease, perianal Crohn’s disease is chronic, and there is no cure. But treatment can help you manage your symptoms.

Read on to learn more about perianal Crohn’s disease.

Just like other types of Crohn’s disease, perianal Crohn’s diseasecauses digestive symptoms. In perianal Crohn’s disease, these symptoms are located around the anus and may include:

  • anal bleeding
  • anal pain or itching
  • mucus or pus-like discharge coming from the anus
  • increased bowel urgency
  • bowel incontinence

Perianal Crohn’s disease can lead to more symptoms over time. Treatment can help manage perianal Crohn’s and reduce the chances of these symptoms.

Advanced symptoms of perianal Crohn’s may include:

  • Abscess. An abscess is a small pocket filled with pus from a bacterial infection. It can form in intestinal walls.
  • Ulcer. An ulcer is an open sore anywhere on your skin.
  • Skin tag. A skin tag is a small growth of excess skin.
  • Fissure. A fissure is a tear in the lining of your anal canal.
  • Fistula. A fistula is a tunnel that forms between one organ and another. This makes a connection between the organs and can lead to multiple complications.
  • Rectal stricture. A stricture happens when scar tissue from chronic inflammation partially or fully blocks the rectal or anal opening. Strictures often require surgery.

Contacting a doctor and getting a diagnosis is the first step toward getting treatment. At your first appointment, you’ll start by discussing your medical history, your family medical history, and your symptoms. You’re likely to be asked about:

  • how long your symptoms have lasted
  • any diarrhea or vomiting
  • your appetite
  • any weight loss
  • any stomach swelling
  • any stomach pain
  • any anal pain or itching
  • any bowel incontinence
  • any past digestive concerns

If you already have a Crohn’s diagnosis, your doctor will likely want to look at the imaging and other tests you had during that diagnosis. The doctor will then want to perform a physical examination. They’ll check the anal area for inflammation, ulcers, skin tags, and signs of fistulas or fissures. The presence of these physical symptoms along with your reported symptoms might confirm a perianal Crohn’s diagnosis. You might also have imaging tests of your digestive tract, such as an endoscopy or a colonoscopy.

The most promising perianal Crohn’s disease treatment focuses on reducing and managing your symptoms. It requires a multidisciplinary team approach. The exact treatments will depend on how severe your symptoms are, your overall physical health, and your doctor’s recommendations.

Your doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:

  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics might be used for a short time to treat any abscesses and ease inflammation.
  • Immunosuppressive medications. Immunosuppressive medications are a long-term option for reducing inflammation, and can help with perianal Crohn’s disease.
  • Biologic medications. Biologics are strong medications that can reduce inflammation. Treatments for several types of Crohn’s use them, including perianal disease.
  • Surgery. Surgery can treat multiple concerns with perianal Crohn’s disease. Surgeons can close fistulas, remove strictures, or remove inflamed and damaged tissue.
  • Lifestyle changes. Changes to lifestyle that make digestion easier can help reduce some symptoms of perianal Crohn’s. These often include dietary changes along with stress management.

There is no cure for perianal Crohn’s disease. But treatment can help you manage the condition and eliminate or reduce your symptoms. Treatment can also help you avoid fistulas and other major complications. Many people with perianal Crohn’s can continue living their daily lives with only minor changes.