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What is perianal Crohn’s disease?

Perianal Crohn's disease

Perianal Crohn’s disease is a form of Crohn’s disease which causes inflammation around the anus. It can occur on its own or at the same time as other forms of Crohn's disease which cause inflammation in other parts of the digestive system.

Perianal Crohn’s affects up to a third of people with Crohn’s disease. It is a life-long chronic condition which cannot currently be cured and is part of a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It most commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine, however it can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus.

Crohn’s disease affects the entire thickness of the digestive tract wall and may also skip areas - meaning you could have inflammation near your mouth and also in your small bowel but no where in between.

It is common for people with Crohn’s disease to be diagnosed with more than one type of the condition if inflammation is present in several places in the GI tract.

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What are the symptoms of perianal Crohn’s disease?

Typical symptoms of perianal Crohn's include:

  • Pain and/or itching around the anus
  • Anal bleeding and/or passing pus/muscus
  • Urgency to pass stools or incontinence

What are the treatments for perianal Crohn's disease?

Treatments currently include medication and surgery. Some people have severely inflamed or damaged parts of their bowels surgically removed. This can reduce or eliminate the symptoms, however it does not get rid of the disease and there is a risk that it will return to another area of the GI tract in the future.

Some people also make adjustments to their diet and lifestyle to support their medical treatment - such as exercise, improving quality of sleep, reducing stress.

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What complications can occur with perianal Crohn’s?

  • Fitsulas: A fistula is a channel that develops between one organ and another so that they are connected. There are many different types of fistulas (depending on where the fistula links between). Around 1 in 3 people with Crohn’s disease develop a fistula at some point
  • Abscesses: This is where a pocket of pus caused by infection from bacteria can form in the intestinal wall, sometimes causing it to bulge out. Abscesses can often lead to fistulas forming
  • Rectal strictures: Over time the rectal or anal opening can become restricted due to scar tissue caused by chronic inflammation. This can cause the area to become blocked, either partially or fully, slowing or stopping movement of stool. If it stops completely this can become life-threatening and often requires surgery.
  • Ulcers: Chronic inflammation can lead to ulcers (open sores) forming
  • Skin tags: Small, fleshy growths around the anus
  • Fissures: Tears in the lining of the anal canal

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