- Blood-colored material mixed in the stool, on the surface or passed alone
- Blood in the stools is mostly bright red
- Blood from bleeding in the stomach comes out tar-black
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
- Passed out (fainted) or too weak to stand
- You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Lots of blood in stool OR blood passed alone without any stool
- Tarry or black-colored stool (not dark green)
- Blood with diarrhea
- Pink- or tea-colored urine
- Vomits blood
- Stomach pain or crying also present
- Skin bruises not caused by an injury
- Age under 12 weeks
- After an injury to anus or rectum
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
- Blood in the stools, but none of the symptoms above. Reason: Most likely an anal fissure or tear. This needs a doctor's input.
- NOTE: Try to save a sample of the "blood" for testing.
Causes & Health Information
- Anal Fissure. If no diarrhea, most of these children have a small tear in the anus. This is called an anal fissure. Anal fissures usually are caused by passage of a large or hard stool. This is the cause in 90% of children with blood in the stools.
- Strep Skin Infection. A Strep skin infection around the anus can also cause blood-streaked stools.
- Bacterial Diarrhea. If also has bloody diarrhea, a gut bacterial infection may be the cause. Examples are Shigella, Salmonella, E.Coli 0157 or Campylobacter.
- Red, but not Blood. The things listed below can also cause red-colored stools that look like blood:
- Certain foods (such as tomatoes or beets)
- Certain drinks (such as red Kool-Aid)
- Certain medicines (such as amoxicillin or omnicef)
Anal Fissure or Tear
- An anal fissure is the most common cause of blood in the stools.
- It causes blood on the surface of a stool. Blood may also be found on toilet tissue after wiping.
- The blood is always bright red.
- Only a few streaks or flecks are seen.
- You may see a shallow tear at 6 or 12 o'clock on the anus.
- Caused by passing a large or hard stool.
CARE ADVICE FOR ANAL FISSURE (Use this until you talk with your doctor)
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
- What You Should Know:
- An anal tear is the most common cause of blood in the stools.
- This is called an anal fissure.
- It causes blood on the surface of a stool.
- Blood may also be found on toilet tissue after wiping.
- It is caused by passing a hard or large stool.
- Here is some care advice that should help until you talk with your doctor.
- Warm Saline Baths:
- Give a warm salt water bath for 20 minutes.
- Add 2 ounces (60 ml) of table salt to a tub of warm water. You can also use baking soda.
- Do 2 times per day for 1 day to cleanse the area and to help healing.
- Steroid Ointment:
- If the anus seems red, use 1% hydrocortisone ointment. No prescription is needed.
- Put a little around the anus.
- Use 2 times per day for 1 day to help healing.
- High-Fiber Diet:
- For children more than 1 year old, change the diet.
- Increase fruits, vegetables and grains (fiber).
- Reduce milk products to 3 servings per day.
- If CONSTIPATION is the cause, see that guide.
- What to Expect:
- Most often, anal tears heal up quickly with home treatment.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Bleeding gets worse
- Small bleeding occurs more than 2 times
- Your child becomes worse
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last Revised: 1/13/2013
Content Set: Child Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.