Hemorrhoids are a common condition among adults that can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort if left untreated.
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, often go away on their own without treatment in a couple of weeks. Luckily, there are several useful home remedies for hemorrhoids, as well as some steps to take to help deal with or avoid hemorrhoids altogether.
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Contents of this article:
- Home remedies
- Lifestyle changes
- Overview of hemorrhoids
There are many hemorrhoid treatment options available in the home or in the form of over-the-counter medications. Many of the treatment methods involve simply easing the symptoms of the hemorrhoids until they clear up on their own.
1. Warm baths
A warm bath including Epsom salts may help to ease the symptoms of hemorrhoids.
Sitting in a tub of warm water that is filled just enough to cover the legs may help to ease the swelling and reduce irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
Some people also choose to add other ingredients to the bath in order to help reduce symptoms even further. These ingredients can include a cup of Epsom salts or apple cider vinegar.
Other people choose to add apple cider vinegar directly to the hemorrhoid, but this may sting and irritate the swollen skin even more.
2. Witch hazel
People should be cautious about what is placed on or near hemorrhoids, as they can easily become more inflamed and irritated. Many people apply witch hazel directly to the external hemorrhoids to find relief.
Natural witch hazel is an astringent, which is a substance that causes tissue to shrink. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, according to research in the Journal of Inflammation. Witch hazel is known to reduce bruising.
Adding a small amount of pure witch hazel to a cotton ball and dabbing onto the hemorrhoid may provide relief from many symptoms. If this makes symptoms worse, people should try a less direct method.
It is important that the witch hazel is not diluted with alcohol, as this can dry out and irritate the hemorrhoid.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer, which may also help with hemorrhoid symptoms. Applying coconut oil may reduce the irritation and swelling, and it may also help reduce the urge to scratch.
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera has been used by many cultures to treat a variety of issues. According to research in BioMed Research International, the plant has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and may help heal wounds.
Aloe may provide relief from the burning, itching, and swelling caused by hemorrhoids when applied to the anus. Purity is very important, as additives and preservatives can make symptoms worse.
5. Ice packs
Applying ice or cold packs to the hemorrhoid may also help relieve pain and inflammation. Applying an ice pack while seated or when the hemorrhoid flares up can help numb pain and temporarily reduce swelling.
People should be sure to wrap the ice in a small towel to avoid damage to the skin. Leave the ice pack on for 15 minutes and repeat the process hourly.
6. Over-the-counter medications
Generally this is the last course of action and using something like this instead doesn’t involve going to the store and dealing with all that.
In cases where simple remedies are not enough or the pain is too great, over-the-counter drugs and creams may provide some relief.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help. Applying creams to the skin that contain ingredients such as hydrocortisone could provide temporary relief as well.
Research suggests that drinking plenty of liquids may reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids.
Making certain lifestyle choices can either reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids or limit the time that a person has them. These include:
Drinking plenty of liquids
According to research in The Permanente Journal, most anal problems such as hemorrhoids are caused by a lack of liquids in the diet.
Drinking plenty of liquid throughout the day keeps the stool soft and manageable as it works its way through the intestines. The result is a much softer stool that takes less energy to pass and causes less irritation to the hemorrhoids.
Diets high in fiber are very important to digestive health, especially when it comes to bowel movements.
Fiber can absorb water, which helps to both soften the stool and give it more body. This makes it easier to pass.
What to wear
People can support the healing of the hemorrhoids by wearing loose-fitting, breathable, cotton underwear and pants. This can help prevent the area surrounding the hemorrhoids from becoming irritated by excess sweat, and help reduce symptoms.
Correct bathroom habits
There are also a few things to consider when using the bathroom that may help control or avoid hemorrhoids.
It is important to not force a bowel movement. Straining and pushing may make hemorrhoids worse. If a bowel movement has not occurred after 2 minutes, it is best to get up and try again later. It also helps some people to have a similar schedule every day, such as sitting on the toilet for a few minutes after each meal.
It is also important to listen to the body in these cases. The moment that the body needs a bowel movement is the best time to do it. Waiting for a less social setting or waiting to use the toilet at home can actually back up the stool and cause more stress and straining. This will only make the hemorrhoids worse.
Softness goes a long way with hemorrhoids. If toilet paper is too irritating, using damp toilet paper may help. Alcohol-free baby wipes with absolutely no additives may also provide relief when wiping. Wet wipes specific for the bottom, or hemorrhoid-specific wipes, can be purchased from a pharmacy and will help with gentle cleaning after a bowel movement.
It may also help to take a squatting position while having a bowel movement. The rectum clears itself easily and with less force when in a squatting position. The easiest way to do this is to prop a stack of books or a stool near the toilet to rest the feet on during bathroom breaks.
Things to avoid
There are also some important things to avoid when treating hemorrhoids in the home. Commercial baby wipes or perfumed toilet papers that are common in many households should be avoided.
Hemorrhoids are highly sensitive, and perfumes and other chemicals may make symptoms worse. It is also important not to wash the anus with soap while hemorrhoids are present. This can dry out and irritate hemorrhoids even more.
Aspirin should also be avoided as it can thin the blood and make bleeding worse.
Overview of hemorrhoids
Symptoms of external hemorrhoids may include difficulty sitting down, blood on the toilet tissue after wiping, and an irritated or painful anus.
Hemorrhoids are swollen and irritated veins around the anus or in the lower rectum of the body, which is the last segment of the large intestine leading to the anus.
They are caused by straining during bowel movements, sitting for long periods of time, and may also be a secondary symptom of other disorders, such as chronic constipation, obesity, and a high-stress lifestyle.
Internal hemorrhoids occur within the rectum or the inside of the anus. They are one of the most common causes of bloody stools. Blood may be the only sign that a person has an internal hemorrhoid. This is because there are very few nerves and pain receptors in the rectum.
External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus. There are many more nerve endings here, and external hemorrhoids cause clearer symptoms than internal hemorrhoids.
External hemorrhoids are much more common, and usually create the typical hemorrhoid symptoms such as:
- irritation and pain around the anus
- extremely itchy or burning sensation around the anus
- difficulty sitting down
- a painful or irritated lump or swollen area near the anus
- painful bowel movements
- blood appearing on toilet tissue after wiping
- leaking stool when not trying to have a bowel movement
When to see a doctor
While hemorrhoids go away on their own in most cases, it is important to see a doctor if the symptoms do not improve with any home care methods.
If there is bloody stool, a doctor will want to be certain that it is not caused by a more serious condition. If bloody stool occurs along with feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting, people should call for medical help immediately. The symptoms may be a sign of a more serious disorder.
In many cases of hemorrhoids, home remedies are the only type of treatment that is needed. However, anyone that has any uncertainty should talk to their doctor, but the outlook for treating most hemorrhoids in the home is good.