Hemorrhoids are not usually a serious condition, but they can be painful and even embarrassing. They occur when veins in the rectum become inflamed and swollen, often causing itching or burning, pain, and bleeding. Hemorrhoids may be internal or external. When the occurrence progresses to bleeding during bowel movements, or when they fail to heal on their own, medical treatment may be necessary. In most instances, however, home remedies and over-the-counter options can resolve hemorrhoids.
Over-the-counter remedies that reduce inflammation can help ease the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Less inflammation means less pain, itching, and bleeding. Although these treatments are unlikely to heal the hemorrhoids themselves, they can make the experience more bearable. For topical treatments, use a sterile cotton pad to apply the remedy to the inflamed area. Most options are relatively free of side effects, but any unexpected issues, including worsening of the hemorrhoids, should be reported to a doctor.
Apply Cold Compresses
Cold compresses help reduce pain and inflammation, though they should never be placed directly on bare skin. Use a disposable or washable sleeve to cover the compress, as the spread of bacteria is possible. Apply the compress for 20 minutes at a time, as needed. Be careful not to irritate the skin with the cold; ice packs always come with the risk of frostbite. Some people prefer to lie on their stomachs and place the compress on the area, to avoid the pressure from sitting on it.
Take Warm Baths
Warm baths are often beneficial for hemorrhoids. Gently wash the area with warm water and avoid using soaps or gels that are harsh and irritating. A sitz bath is another option. These are available at most pharmacies. They fit over the toilet and allow the patient to sit in warm water for 15 minutes, soaking the affected area. The warm water can reduce pain and encourage the hemorrhoids to heal more quickly. It may be especially beneficial to use these treatments after bowel movements when the hemorrhoids are most inflamed and painful.
Drink More Fluids
Many adults do not drink as much water as they should, an oversight that can lead to hemorrhoids due to straining or exacerbating existing symptoms. Sufficient fluid intake helps maintain regular bowel movements that pass easily. People who struggle with difficult bowel movements may want to incorporate fiber-rich beverages such as prune juice.
Use a Pillow
Sitting on a pillow can help alleviate the pain of hemorrhoids caused by pressure. Many pharmacies and online stores sell specially shaped hemorrhoid pillows that alleviate pressure on the inflamed veins, but regular pillows also help. Not only does sitting on softer surfaces ease symptoms of hemorrhoids, but it can also reduce the likelihood they will develop.
Add Some Fiber
Adding fiber to one’s diet is one of the best ways to ease hemorrhoids at home. Men and women should consume at least 38 and 25 grams per day, respectively. Straining during bowel movements and constipation can lead to hemorrhoids and worsen existing ones. Fiber-rich foods include beans, lentils, wheat, and bran. Many fruits and vegetables also contain fiber, when eaten with their skin.
Use a Soothing Cream or Gel
Some soothing creams and gels are ideal for hemorrhoids. Avoid those with fragrances or additional chemicals; plant-based is ideal. Choose gels such as aloe vera, with cooling, anti-inflammatory properties to help decrease swelling and pain. Apply them using a clean cotton bud and dispose of the pad immediately. These gels are not suitable for internal application, however.
Allowing hemorrhoids to heal is vital. Wear breathable cotton fabrics to avoid further inflaming and irritating the veins. Take care to wipe gently after using the washroom, and consider moist towelettes that further reduce irritation. Pressing on the veins typically makes them worse. During bowel movements, avoid straining or forcing.
For many people, one of the primary causes of hemorrhoids is spending too much time sitting down. People with jobs that require them to sit at a desk for most of the day should make sure to get up and walk around at regular intervals, ideally a few minutes every hour. It is also important to have bowel movements when the urge arises, rather than hold them until a convenient time.
Use Epsom Salts
Epsom salts are a common treatment for hemorrhoids. Mix equal parts Epsom salts and glycerin into a paste, and then apply it to a sterile pad. Place the pad on the affected area for 20 minutes every four to six hours. A half cup of Epsom salts in a sitz bath can achieve the same effect, reducing inflammation and pain and helping heal the hemorrhoids. As with all home remedies, one should always consult a doctor if a method produces adverse effects or if he or she has another existing condition that could exacerbate the problem.
The topical application of witch hazel can help soothe the pain of hemorrhoids. Witch hazel is the active ingredient in over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments and is commonly used for many skin irritations. It provides temporary pain relief in the affected area by reducing inflammation. Saturate cotton pads with the liquid to make application easier. Witch hazel is well-tolerated by most people, although there is the possibility of an allergic reaction.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing
Hemorrhoids can make tight, restrictive clothing uncomfortable, but that isn’t the only reason to avoid wearing them. Tight clothing and artificial fibers trap moisture against the skin. The moisture aggravates hemorrhoids and increases discomfort. To help the area remain dry and allow air circulation, wear loose-fitting clothes and 100% cotton underwear.
Struggling with painful bowel movements is a common symptom of hemorrhoids. Adding fiber to the diet helps bowel movements become more regular and less painful. Getting enough fiber is often a challenge, but one way to boost intake is by adding psyllium husk. This fine powder can be added to food or drinks or taken in capsule form. Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber each day.
Tea is a rich source of tannins, which can provide temporary relief for hemorrhoids. Tannins encourage blood clotting and can ease inflammation. Clean the affected area first. Apply a warm, wet tea bag to soothe pain and provide relief. All teas made with tea leaves contain tannins. Some herbal teas, which are more accurately called infusions, do as well. Black tea has the highest concentration of tannins.
Cleanliness is important for anyone who develops hemorrhoids. Clean the anal area thoroughly but gently after each bowel movement. Using a moist cloth, baby wipe, or cotton pad soaked in witch hazel will be less painful and more effective than dry toilet paper. Refrain from using soap, which can further irritate the skin. Applying a small amount of aloe vera gel or petroleum jelly to the area after cleaning can provide added protection.