What is an anal fissure? An anal fissure is a small tear or split in the lining of the anal canal. Anal fissures are common among infants, but they can occur at any age. Anal fissures are also common among women who have recently given birth and people who have inflammatory bowel disease. An anal fissure can be acute or chronic (lasting beyond six weeks). An anal fissure is marked by a burning sensation or pain in the rectum or anus. This sensation is most noticeable during a bowel movement. There may also be some bleeding from the fissure. Anal fissures can occur as the result of a large, firm bowel movement. Constipation, diarrhea, an inflammatory anal condition, or having receptive anal intercourse can also cause anal fissures. Anything that irritates or cuts the anal lining can result in an anal fissure. An anal fissure can recur easily. If an anal fissure becomes a chronic condition, a small lump of skin may form on the outside of the anus. This is known as skin tag or sentinel pile. An anal fissure will most likely heal on its own. Your health care provider may also recommend frequent warm baths to relax the anal muscles, which can also assist the healing process. A diet high in fiber and with plenty of liquids promotes softer bowel movements, which can help reduce the occurrence and recurrence of anal fissures. Stool softener and topical medications can also be used in treatment of anal fissure. In some cases, surgical intervention may be required to repair an anal fissure. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for an anal fissure, but your symptoms persist, recur, or cause you concern.