Anal discharge

Anal discharge is a far more common symptom than you may think.

By Wallace Health I Medically reviewed by Adrian Roberts.
Page last reviewed: October 2018 I Next review due: October 2023


There can be many different reasons for discharge from your anus (bottom), and it can vary in colour, appearance and consistency. It may be watery or jelly-like, and be clear, white, yellowish, pinkish or brown.

The most common types of anal discharge are:

  • Mucus – a jelly-like substance that’s naturally found in the gut; white or yellow mucus may mean there’s an infection, while a pink or red colour may indicate blood
  • Faeces (stools) – due to leaking from your bowel
  • Anal bleeding

If you have anal discharge, you may notice:

  • Staining on your underwear
  • Itching
  • A feeling of dampness

Discomfort around your bottom

Causes of anal discharge

Mucus-based discharge may be caused by:

  • Infection due to food-poisoning, bacteria or parasites
  • An abscess due to infection or an anal fistula – a channel that can develop between the end of your bowel and anus after an abscess
  • Haemorrhoids (piles) – swellings containing enlarged blood vessels found inside or around your bottom
  • Digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases (eg Crohn’s disease), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or food intolerance (such as coeliac disease)
  • Sexually transmitted infections, including genital warts around your bottom, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, herpes simplex and syphilis
  • A side effect of chemotherapy
  • Anal cancer, which is rare, affecting 1,300 people per year in the UK

Leakage of faeces (stools) from your bowel may be caused by:

  • Damage to the muscles that control bowel movements after childbirth, surgery or rectal prolapse – a condition that’s more common with age, when your rectum (the lower part of your large intestine), protrudes from your bottom
  • Diarrhoea as a result of infection, bowel disease or IBS
  • Injury or disease that affects your nerves, such as a stroke, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about symptoms

You can book an appointment with a Spire private GP today.

Book an appointment

Getting a diagnosis for anal discharge

You should see a doctor if you have a noticeable amount of anal discharge, especially if it:

  • Has a pinkish or red tinge, as this may be blood
  • Is accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain, fever, bleeding or a change in bowel habits

Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, may examine your bottom, and may send you for tests, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool sample tests
  • Investigative procedures such as a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, when a long flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end is inserted into your anus to examine your rectum (back passage) or colon (the lower end of your large intestines)

Treatments for anal discharge

These will vary, according to the cause of the problem. They may include:

  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections
  • Diet and lifestyle changes to ease digestive problems
  • Prescription creams and ointments for haemorrhoids
  • Medications to treat specific gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Surgery to address specific gut problems