Rectal bleeding refers to any blood that passes from the anus (where stool, or
poop, exits the body). It can show up in
the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet, and can range from bright red to
Kids can have rectal bleeding for different reasons, most of which are not serious.
More to Know
Different things can cause rectal bleeding; these are some of the most common:
Anal fissures: These small tears are the most common cause of
rectal bleeding in children. They can hapen when passing a large or hard stool,
which stretches the lining of the anus until it tears, or when frequent diarrhea
irritates the lining. The tears can cause pain or itching in the area, especially
during and after a bowel movement (BM).
Fissures are very common in babies,
and usually heal completely with basic care. In older kids and teens, the cuts can
take several weeks or longer to heal and sometimes tear open again. The three
F's (fluids, fiber, and fitness)
and, in some cases, stool softeners can help make BMs easier to pass. Keeping the
area clean and applying ointments can relieve pain and speed healing.
This is when someone has painful (hard, dry, and unusually large) or less frequent
bowel movements (BMs). The three F's — fluids, fiber, and fitness — can
help prevent and control most cases of constipation.
Hemorrhoids: A frequent complaint of
pregnant women, but not common among kids, these are varicose veins in the anus
or rectum. They may bleed, itch, or sting, especially during or after a bowel movement.
Again, fluids, fiber, and fitness can help prevent constipation (a leading cause of
hemorrhoids) and control many instances of hemorrhoids.
Polyps: These small growths of tissue in the lining of the rectum
or colon may bleed during or after a bowel movement.
More serious causes of rectal bleeding include:
Inflammatory bowel disease
(IBD), which refers to two chronic diseases that cause
inflammation of the intestines: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Both can cause
frequent diarrhea, so blood often appears in the stool. In severe cases, continued
small amounts of blood loss can lead to anemia.
Sometimes, food allergies and blood-clotting problems also can lead to rectal bleeding.
Drinking plenty of fluids, eating foods with fiber, and exercising
regularly can help treat and prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, and anal fissures.
Keeping the area clean and applying ointments can relieve pain and speed healing.
Rarely, a fissure doesn't heal and the doctor may recommend surgery.
Keep in Mind
The conditions that cause more serious cases of rectal bleeding will be treated
by doctors. For instance, IBD is a chronic (long-term) condition that requires continuing
care to help manage symptoms.
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