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Dr QM Leong
Dr QM Leong

Burning Sensation/Feeling In Rectum: What Does The Pain Mean?

A burning sensation in the rectum is a common but often distressing pain symptom experienced by many. This sensation, ranging from mild irritation to severe discomfort, can arise from various causes and may significantly impact the quality of life.

The issue’s complexity often prompts questions and concerns, but understanding the underlying causes is essential for effective management and relief.

This blog explores the factors leading to a burning feeling or pain in the rectum, shedding light on conditions, lifestyle influences, and other contributors.

From dietary habits to medical conditions like haemorrhoids or anal fissures, this comprehensive examination aims to demystify the subject, providing insights, prevention strategies, and remedies.

Whether seeking to comprehend the root causes or searching for appropriate treatment options, the following sections offer valuable information and guidance.


1. Spicy Foods

Spicy foods have long been enjoyed for their vibrant flavours and the kick they bring to our dishes. However, for some, indulging in spicy meals can have an unintended consequence – a burning sensation in the rectum.

The primary culprit behind this sensation is a compound found in chillies called capsaicin. When consumed, capsaicin interacts with receptors in our digestive tract, leading to that familiar fiery feeling on the palate.

As the food moves through the digestive system, this sensation can persist, resulting in a burning feeling during or after a bowel movement.

The good news is that this discomfort can often be managed by moderating one’s intake of spicy foods. If you find that spicy meals tend to cause discomfort, consider the following suggestions:

  • Choose Milder Options: Opting for dishes with milder chillies or less generously seasoned can provide the flavours you enjoy without the unpleasant after-effects.
  • Experiment with Creamy Ingredients: Adding dairy products like yoghurt or cream to spicy dishes can temper the heat, thanks to the fat molecules in dairy that bind with capsaicin.
  • Monitor Your Reaction: Not everyone’s tolerance to spicy foods is the same. Pay attention to how your body reacts to different levels of spiciness, and adjust your intake accordingly.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages during a meal can help ease the immediate effects of spicy food.

While the burning sensation caused by spicy foods is generally harmless, if the problem persists or you have other digestive concerns, it may be wise to consult a healthcare provider. They can help determine whether dietary adjustments or other interventions are needed.


2. Bad Hygiene

Poor hygiene, particularly in the anal area, can contribute to discomfort and various health issues, including a burning feeling in the rectum. The presence of residual faecal matter, overuse of harsh soaps, or too much wiping with rough toilet paper can irritate the anus, causing sensations such as anal itching or burning pain.

Below are tips to maintain good hygiene and prevent these discomforts:

  • Proper Cleaning: Clean the area with warm water and gentle, unscented soap after a bowel movement. Scrubbing too hard can lead to anal skin irritation, so avoid it.
  • Soft Toilet Paper: Opt for soft, unscented toilet paper. Wipe gently to avoid abrasions or discomfort near the anus.
  • Avoid Over-Wiping: Excessive wiping can lead to anal fissures, and these fissures can cause sharp pain and even rectal bleeding.
  • Be Mindful of Other Symptoms: If you notice other symptoms, such as changes in the anus changes, persistent anal burning, or blood in the stool, it may indicate a more serious underlying cause, such as inflammatory bowel disease, external haemorrhoids, or anal or rectal cancer.
  • Seek Professional Help if Needed: If maintaining proper hygiene doesn’t alleviate the symptoms or if you notice any of the following symptoms that persist, consult a healthcare provider for a proper rectal examination. They can take a detailed medical history and provide appropriate treatment.


3. Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids, or piles, are inflamed veins in the lower rectum or around the anus, often caused by increased pressure during bowel movements or chronic constipation.

These can be classified into internal haemorrhoids, which are typically painless but may lead to anal bleeding, and external haemorrhoids, causing mild pain or a burning sensation in the rectum. The discomfort may be exacerbated by activities such as sitting or passing stool, and the causes of anal pressure leading to haemorrhoids include straining to pass stool, obesity, and prolonged sitting.

Management and treatment of haemorrhoids may involve over-the-counter creams, soaking in a warm bath, or dietary changes to relieve constipation and avoid hard and dry stools.

Recognising the symptoms and understanding how to address them is vital for comfort. If the burning sensation or other discomforts persist, consultation with a colorectal doctor is advisable to ensure proper diagnosis and tailored treatment for this common symptom of anal discomfort.


4. Anal Fissures

An anal fissure is a small tear or crack in the lining of the anal canal, often causing severe pain and bleeding during or after passing stool.

This condition can lead to intense discomfort and a burning pain, particularly during bowel movements. Some common symptoms include anal pain and sometimes a visible tear around the anus.


5. Incontinence Of Stool

Incontinence of stool, or faecal incontinence, is the inability to control passing stool, leading to the unintentional leakage of faecal matter. This distressing condition can create various complications and discomforts, including a burning sensation in the rectum, rectal itching, and mild pain in the anus.

Several factors may contribute to stool incontinence, such as muscle damage, chronic diarrhoea, nerve damage, or underlying health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, rectal prolapse, or prostate gland issues.

The causes of anal incontinence can be complex and multifaceted, sometimes involving chronic digestive tract inflammation or complications from surgeries or childbirth. Liquid stool may exacerbate the condition, causing further irritation or burning sensations in the rectal area.

Treatment typically begins with understanding the underlying cause and may include dietary changes, medication to treat diarrhoea or constipation, pelvic floor exercises, or even surgical interventions in more severe cases. Over-the-counter remedies such as stool softeners might be helpful in some instances.


6. Infections In The Rectal Area

Infections in the rectal area can commonly cause discomfort, leading to symptoms like mild pain, rectal itching, or a burning sensation in the rectum. Various infections, including sexually transmitted infections, fungal infections, or bacterial infections, might contribute to these sensations.

Engaging in unprotected anal sex or having anal intercourse with multiple partners can increase the risk of infections. Additionally, certain skin conditions or chronic inflammation in the digestive tract can worsen the problem.

The causes of anal infections can vary widely. Still, they may be connected to hygiene practices, the presence of an anal fistula, or even underlying health issues like irritable bowel syndrome or rectal prolapse. The symptoms can be similar to other anal problems, making professional diagnosis vital.


Conclusion On Burning Sensation In The Rectum

A burning sensation in the rectum can arise from many factors, ranging from dietary choices and hygiene practices to medical conditions such as haemorrhoids, anal fissures, infections, and stool incontinence. While this guide has aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the common causes and potential remedies, it is essential to recognise that individual cases can vary widely.

It is worth noting that the information provided herein is intended for general understanding and does not replace medical advice or diagnosis from a professional. Every individual’s situation is unique, and the complexity of the symptoms demands a personalised assessment from a healthcare provider.

Seeking consultation with a professional colorectal surgeon is paramount to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis and be administered the proper medical treatment.

If your problem persists, consider scheduling a consultation with Dr Leong. He is a colorectal specialist in Singapore whose areas of expertise lie in diagnosing and addressing a wide array of colorectal and gastrointestinal issues like perianal abscesses, hernias, haemorrhoids, lipoma, diverticulitis, appendicitis, and others.


Frequently Asked Questions About Burning Sensation In The Rectum

Are Over-The-Counter Products Effective For Treating Hemorrhoids And Anal Fissures?

Over-the-counter products like creams, ointments, and stool softeners can temporarily relieve symptoms related to haemorrhoids and anal fissures. However, they may not address the underlying cause.

Consulting with a healthcare provider to obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan is best.

Is Stool Incontinence Permanent, Or Are There Effective Treatment Options Available?

Stool incontinence is not necessarily permanent. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause and may include dietary changes, medication, pelvic floor exercises, or surgery in more severe cases.

A medical professional can provide a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan tailored to individual needs.

If I Suspect An Infection, What Steps Should I Take To Prevent It From Worsening?

If an infection is suspected, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly. Infections in the rectal or anal area can become serious if left untreated.

A healthcare provider can conduct a proper evaluation, prescribe the appropriate antibiotics or other treatments, and provide guidance on hygiene and care to prevent the condition from worsening.

How Long Does It Take For A Burning Anus To Heal?

Typically, mild discomfort may last a few hours to a couple of days. However, if the burning persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s essential to consult a medical professional.