—Troy C., junior, Santiago Canyon College, Orange, California
The answer, as usual, is “it depends.” I think it would be helpful to back up a step and rephrase your question. Let’s ask, instead: “Are non-painful bumps in the anal area normal?” or maybe: “Do I need to worry about all kinds of newly detected bumps around the anal area, even if they don’t hurt?”
Most new growths around the anal area are probably worth a visit to your doctor or a medical provider at your student health center. They could certainly be hemorrhoids, but those are typically symptomatic. There are some other possibilities too, which I’ll get into more below. First, let’s discuss what hemorrhoids are and what causes them.
What are hemorrhoids?
A hemorrhoid is an inflamed vein in the anal area. There are two kinds: internal and external hemorrhoids. The external type is more noticeable because they occur at the anal verge (the very end of the digestive tract). Internal hemorrhoids occur two to three centimeters up the rectum. A healed hemorrhoid, sometimes called an anal tag, may produce a fleshy extra bit of skin you feel on wiping, and the bit of extra skin may last for a while.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
- Itchiness or irritation around the anal area
- Swelling around your anus
- Discomfort with sitting, passing a stool, and/or wiping
- Blood on wiping (and sometimes drips of blood with passing a stool)
What causes hemorrhoids?
Various things can cause the veins to get inflamed. The most common causes in the college age group are probably constipation and associated straining at stools. Prolonged sitting—especially on the toilet—can also be a cause, as can other activities that generate extra pressure in the region, such as heavy lifting.
Both prevention and treatment of hemorrhoids start with adequate water and fiber in the diet, as well as avoiding long periods of sitting and straining at stools.
Other causes of anal bumps
There are several other causes of bumps, bulging, or other abnormalities of the skin at or near the anus. Among these are condyloma (genital warts, caused by human papillomavirus), anal fissures, perirectal abscesses, and perianal abscesses. All these are likely to be quite painful, especially during or right after bowel movements. Any anal bumps that last for more than a week should be evaluated by a qualified medical professional, particularly if they are accompanied by pain or bleeding.