Anal fissures are a common problem; however, they’re typically not a serious condition. They can affect people of all ages and stages of life, and they’re often seen in infants and young children, as this age group can commonly experience constipation.
An anal fissure is a small tear in the lining of the anus that can cause pain and bleeding during bowel movements.
In most cases, fissures occur from passing hard, dry stools. Other common causes are constipation, straining, and inflammatory bowel disease. In rare cases, anal fissures can occur as a result of HIV, anal cancer, and tumors (
Anal fissures usually heal within 4–6 weeks. Diet and lifestyle modifications can help reduce pain and complications associated with fissures, although no one food can heal fissures.
Here are 9 foods that may help if you have fissures.
Papayas contain enzymes that may help improve digestion.
Yet, avoid eating too much papaya, as they’re very high in fiber. Some people report digestive discomfort with high fiber intakes. One large papaya contains 13 grams of fiber, which are about 50% and 34% of the recommended daily needs for women and men, respectively (
Lemons are bursting with vitamin C. In fact, the juice from 1 lemon has 21% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C for an adult (
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays an essential role in collagen synthesis and skin health. It’s found to be involved in all phases of wound healing, and a deficiency can significantly impair the healing process (
As vitamin C is water-soluble, it’s not stored in the body, so it’s important to get enough vitamin C daily. Enjoy lemons squeezed in water or tea. Doing so will also promote adequate hydration to prevent constipation or dry stools.
Bananas are a good source of fiber, which may help relieve constipation. One review found that 77% of people with constipation experienced increased stool frequency and softer stool consistency after increasing their fiber intake (
The ripeness of your banana is important. Unripe bananas have a higher amylase-resistant starch level, which can aggravate preexisting constipation. Bananas’ levels of resistant starch decrease as the fruit ripens (
Oatmeal is loaded with soluble fiber, which helps your stools retain water. This may help prevent dry stools, a common cause of fissures. Ultimately, eating more oatmeal and other foods with soluble fiber keeps stools soft, making them easier to pass (
Oatmeal also contains avenanthramides, which are compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Fighting inflammation is an essential part of healing fissures, and this phytochemical may help contribute to the process (
Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, has been long recognized for its medicinal properties, including its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Coupling turmeric with black pepper helps improve the absorption of curcumin (
Early research suggests that topically applying turmeric can help wound healing and skin-related disorders. More research is needed on the use of topical turmeric treatments for anal fissures (
Turmeric suppositories are becoming more common; yet, research is lacking to support their use. Most medical experts recommend against using a suppository, as it may increase the risk of additional anal tearing (
Ghee is a widely used Ayurvedic remedy for healing fissures.
Ghee contains butyrate acid. Early research supports the use of this fatty acid to improve digestion, and it’s increasingly used to treat and prevent gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (
Anecdotal reports also support the use of ghee as a natural laxative. Ayurvedic health practitioners recommend taking 1 teaspoon of ghee in milk or water to promote smooth bowel movements.
While this practice is safe, it adds additional saturated fat and calories to your diet, and no research has confirmed its benefits for this purpose.
Milk is another popular Ayurvedic remedy for fissure healing. It’s often recommended to take it alongside ghee to improve constipation. Whether milk will help heal fissures will depend on how your body responds.
Higher fat milk contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid. Some research suggests CLA supplements may help reduce inflammatory responses. Although, other studies have found that CLA supplements may increase levels of inflammatory markers (
Furthermore, some older studies have linked drinking milk to fissures. A study including 60 infants and young children associated constipation and fissures with higher milk consumption (
In another study, 69% of people who followed a milk elimination diet for 4 weeks experienced healed fissures. However, over 20% of these people had a fissure recurrence once they reintroduced milk into their diet (
Researchers hypothesize this is only relevant to people who are hypersensitive to milk proteins. It’s important to note that milk does not contain fiber, and a low fiber diet is a major contributor to constipation (
Although research on milk’s healing properties is limited, it may be beneficial to relax with a warm milk beverage before bedtime.
Curd is promoted in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment that works by targeting the digestive tract and promoting regular, pain-free bowel movements. Its probiotic potential is the foundation of this approach (
Curd is made by mixing boiled milk with an acid, such as lemon or vinegar. Live bacterial cultures convert lactose into lactic acid. Depending on the strain, the probiotics may help relieve constipation.
However, not all curds contain bacterial cultures that exert probiotic effects to help improve digestive health and bowel movements. The probiotic properties of homemade curds can be inconsistent (
If you want to reap the benefits of probiotic-rich foods, opt for yogurt containing live bacterial cultures, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi (
Soaking, heating, and sprouting legumes before eating them may increase the absorption of zinc. One cup of kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils contains 11%, 14%, and 20% of the DV, respectively (
In addition to zinc, legumes are an exceptional source of fiber, which helps soften and regulate stools to prevent fissures. One cup of beans provides approximately 11–16 grams of this nutrient (
The topical application of zinc may help reduce discomfort and speed recovery, but talk with your doctor before topically applying zinc to an anal fissure (33).
Most anal fissures heal naturally with the aid of proper nutrition and lifestyle habits. The following methods may help speed the healing process (
- using over-the-counter stool softeners
- taking a sitz bath for 10–15 minutes, especially after bowel movements
- increasing your fluid intake
- taking a fiber supplement, such as psyllium husk
- getting more exercise
- wearing loose, cotton underwear
If fissures don’t heal within 8 weeks, they’re considered to be chronic. At this point, talk with your doctor, as you may require surgery. They may also investigate for any potential underlying causes.
Certain foods and lifestyle modifications may help your fissures heal more quickly and reduce pain. Eating foods that deliver fiber, nutrients like vitamin C and zinc, and probiotics may be beneficial. In addition, drinking plenty of water and getting enough movement may help.
Nevertheless, there are no quick fixes or miracle foods for fissures. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions or your fissure hasn’t healed within 8 weeks.
Just one thing
Try this today: Survey the foods in your pantry. Make a mental note of where you can add more fiber-rich foods. Stock up on nonperishable foods like oatmeal, canned legumes, nuts, and seeds to boost your daily fiber intake.