Hemorrhoids are swollen, irritated veins in your bottom triggering discomfort and pain. Home treatments may reduce your discomfort as the irritation subsides.
- Some of the most effective ways to relieve the immediate discomfort associated with hemorrhoids include using a sitz bath, applying cool witch hazel or an Epsom and glycerin compound, using ice packs and cold compresses, or applying pure aloe vera or coconut oil
- Hemorrhoids are swollen, bulging veins in the rectum or anus, often resulting from increased abdominal pressure such as during pregnancy, heavy lifting, chronic constipation, obesity or sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
- To reduce pain and discomfort, avoid using soaps or perfumed paper or wipes as they are irritating and drying; apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil may exacerbate symptoms, and resisting the urge to have a bowel movement may cause the stool to become more difficult to pass
- If the pain from hemorrhoids becomes difficult to manage, your physician may suggest one of several office treatments, including a rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy or infrared coagulation; each treatment has advantages and disadvantages to discuss with your physician
Although they aren’t life-threatening, hemorrhoids may be painful and affect your daily activities.1NHS, Haemorrhoids They more often affect adults from 45 to 65 years old, but younger adults and children may experience them as well. While they are common in both women and men, women have an increased risk during pregnancy, due to the pressure of carrying the baby and straining during delivery.2Johns Hopkins University, Hemorrhoids
In one retrospective study3Medicine, 2017;96(31):e7662 using reimbursement claims data from 33,034 patients in Taiwan, researchers evaluated the relationship between hemorrhoids and the subsequent development of coronary heart disease. Over a 12-year follow-up, the researchers found those with hemorrhoids experienced a 127% higher risk of coronary heart disease compared to those without hemorrhoids.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases,4National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Definition and Facts of Hemorrhoids it’s estimated half the people in the U.S. will have hemorrhoids by age 50. Aside from age and pregnancy, other risk factors for developing hemorrhoids include activities that increase your abdominal pressure, such as straining during a bowel movement, lifting heavy objects, obesity or sitting on the toilet for long periods of time.5National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Definition and Facts of Hemorrhoids 6Mayo Clinic, Hemorrhoids
What Are Hemorrhoids?
To understand how to prevent hemorrhoids and why these tips help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with them, it’s helpful to know exactly what hemorrhoids are and how they are formed.
Inside the anus and lower rectum are veins. When those inside the wall of the rectum or anus become swollen or inflamed they are called internal hemorrhoids. You can’t usually see or feel these hemorrhoids, but if they become irritated from straining, you may experience bleeding.7Mayo Clinic, Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids may also form under the skin around the anus, called external hemorrhoids.8National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Definition and Facts of Hemorrhoids When these become irritated they cause itching or bleeding. In some cases, hemorrhoids may not cause symptoms or pain, and you won’t be aware you have them unless a physician does an internal examination. When symptoms do occur, you may experience:9National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Definition and Facts of Hemorrhoids 10NHS, Haemorrhoids
- Bright red blood after passing stool in the toilet or on toilet tissue
- An itchy bottom
- A lump outside the anus, which may need to be pushed back after passing stool
- Redness, soreness and swelling around the anus
- Pain or achiness while sitting around your anus
Hemorrhoids are similar to varicose veins in your legs. In other words, the veins bulge and swell, sometimes in response to added abdominal pressure. At other times, you may not be able to identify a cause.11Mayo Clinic, Hemorrhoids The swelling causes irritation to the wall of the veins, and the subsequent symptoms.12Medical News Today, November 23, 2017
Top Tips to Relieve Hemorrhoid Pain at Home
When you are experiencing pain and discomfort from hemorrhoids, it’s likely you’ll want relief as quickly as possible. In some cases, your relief may be as close as your kitchen cabinet.
- Use a bidet — Since hemorrhoids are irritated veins, using a bidet is an effective, less irritating and low-cost way to clean your backside after a bowel movement. If you don’t have one installed at home now, there are several do-it-yourself kits that make installing one on your current toilet safe and simple.
- Soften your stool — Since hemorrhoids are aggravated by straining during a bowel movement, it’s important to keep your stool soft. An important strategy is eating enough dietary fiber. Fiber comes in two types: soluble, which easily dissolves in water, and insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve but stays intact as it moves through your colon.Both are important for digestion. I believe 50 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories is ideal to maintain optimal health, but most Americans don’t get nearly this much.
It’s All in How You Sitz
The word sitz comes from the German verb “sitzen” mean which means “to sit.”13Harvard Health Publishing, Hemorrhoids and What to do About Them A sitz bath was also called a hip bath and is a type of soaking done to include only the hips and buttocks. The purpose was to speed healing for patients who had undergone rectal surgery, or experienced hemorrhoids, uterine cramps or prostate infections.14Encyclopedia.com, Sitz Bath
Warm sitz baths are one of the easiest and effective ways to reduce the pain of hemorrhoids. They are a European tradition in which only the pelvis and abdominal area are submerged in water. Others have used a cool sitz bath to help reduce constipation or tone the muscles of the bladder or bowel.15Encyclopedia.com, Sitz Bath
On some occasions, you may feel dizzy when getting up from a hot sitz bath, but when using them for hemorrhoids, the water should be warm and not hot. A sitz bath may help relieve the itching, irritation and spasms of the sphincter muscle occurring with pain from hemorrhoids.
Small plastic portable tubs that fit over the toilet seat may be used, or you may use a regular bathtub with a few inches of warm water. Many experts recommend a 20-minute bath after each bowel movement, in addition to another two or three during the day to relieve hemorrhoids.16Harvard Health Publishing, Hemorrhoids and What to do About Them
Afterward, gently pat the area dry. Do not rub as it irritates the hemorrhoid. Alternatively, you may want to use the cool air from a hair dryer to dry the area. Soaking in mild temperature water helps to speed the healing process by boosting blood supply. It doesn’t cure the condition, but it will help reduce irritation.
Refrain from adding shower gel, bubble bath or soap products to the water, as it can cause irritation. However, epsom salts in a sitz bath is soothing to the skin and helps reduce irritation and symptoms.
Don’t Use These for Hemorrhoid Pain
In addition to the methods of reducing pain listed above, there are a few things you should avoid doing as they increase your symptoms and discomfort. As mentioned above, steer clear of using any soap products on the area as it dries the skin and increases the risk of bleeding.
Additionally, commercial baby wipes and perfumed toilet paper are irritating and may increase itching and pain. While some have considered using apple cider vinegar, the Cleveland Clinic17The Cleveland Clinic, June 3, 2016 recommends avoiding this as it may burn irritated skin and exacerbate problems over time.
Since there are several other natural strategies to reduce symptoms, it’s wise to steer clear of apple cider vinegar. Tea tree oil is another antiseptic and anti-inflammatory essential oil some recommend to decrease symptoms. However, as this strategy hasn’t been well studied, experts recommend avoiding it.18The Cleveland Clinic, June 3, 2016
Do not wait to have a bowel movement.19Harvard Health Publishing, Hemorrhoids and What to do About Them When you prolong the urge to defecate there’s a tendency the stool will become harder and more difficult to pass. This increases pressure, straining and the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Instead, consider setting up a schedule to help establish regular bowel habits. When your hemorrhoids are inflamed and irritated, it’s best to avoid blood thinning medications, such as aspirin, if it all possible, as they increase the risk of bleeding.20Medical News Today, April 25, 2017
Nonsurgical Hemorrhoid Relief
There are several types of nonsurgical treatments your physician may use to get rid of hemorrhoids. Before undergoing any of them, discuss the pros and cons of each with your physician and be sure you are comfortable with your decision.
One of my favorite preventives is the use of the polyphenolic bioflavanoid rutin which is a more potent derivative of quercetin. It works to heal hemorrhoids naturally by stabilizing and tightening the walls of blood vessels.
- Rubber band ligation — This procedure is used in the doctor’s office to treat prolapsing or bleeding internal hemorrhoids.
When to See Your Doctor
In most cases, you’ll be able to treat the symptoms of hemorrhoids at home using home remedies. However, you should seek medical care immediately if you experience severe anal pain and bleeding that may or may not be associated with abdominal pain, diarrhea or fever.21National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Definition and Facts of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids may also progress to the point where they become thrombosed. In this situation the hemorrhoid is pushed outside of the anus and is filled with blood clots. This makes everyday activities exceedingly uncomfortable.
The symptoms are similar to hemorrhoids, but the pain and itching will increase, as will the swelling around the anus. Thrombosed hemorrhoids may also become infected and can lead to an abscess, which causes additional symptoms such as fever.22Medical News Today, December 24, 2017
Acutely thrombosed external hemorrhoids may require additional treatment from your physician. In some cases, they will resolve on their own, but in others it may require surgical intervention, especially if they become strangulated and the tissue begins to die (necrosis).23World Journal of Gastroenterology, 2015; 21(31): 9245
The severity of the pain is most intense within the first 48 hours and will usually gradually resolve. As a result, surgical removal is usually offered with severe pain within the first 48 hours, and then only if the hemorrhoid progresses to strangulation and necrosis.24World Journal of Gastroenterology, 2015; 21(31): 9245
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked.
The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The subscription fee being requested is for access to the articles and information posted on this site, and is not being paid for any individual medical advice.
If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.