There are so many different causes of hemorrhoids, it’s hard to imagine anyone walking around who has not suffered from them. Hemorrhoids can be caused by something as simple as chronic diarrhea or struggling whilst lifting something heavy.
They are the most unfortunate companion to pregnancy as most women know and also go hand in hand with excess weight and obesity. Any disruption to bowel movements like straining or constipation can be enough to trigger hemorrhoids.
We’ve made recommendations for ways to treat this issue below. Since hemorrhoids are caused by swollen blood vessels, cold compresses, Epsom salt baths and essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties may help to provide relief from symptoms.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen and distended veins in the lowest portion of the rectum and anus. Sometimes the delicate veins in this area stretch and become wafer-thin causing the blood vessels to bulge. When feces are passed, the bulges become irritated. This is the essence of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can develop just inside the anus or just outside, under the surrounding skin. These are known respectively as internal or external hemorrhoids. They can also be referred to by another name, piles.
Sometimes hemorrhoids will bleed. They are rarely serious but can be tremendously uncomfortable, itch like fury, and become quite sore and painful. Often hemorrhoids will resolve on their own but treatment for symptomatic relief can be quite crucial on a daily basis until they start to improve.
Home remedies for hemorrhoids
There is a huge amount of self-help in the home which can make hemorrhoids far more bearable. Here are some different options:-
- Witch hazel – witch hazel can be applied directly to the sore skin around the anus, it calms itching and also reduces pain. Use witch hazel wipes after you have been to the toilet instead of toilet paper as this can be a particularly uncomfortable time. Toilet paper can actually aggravate the hemorrhoids so switch it up for soothing and moist witch hazel wipes
- Aloe vera – the gel is both soothing and has anti-inflammatory properties, use 100% pure aloe vera gel after the bath or shower or as required for symptomatic relief
- Essential oils – essential oils that are known for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties can be applied to the affected area but must always be diluted in a base or carrier oil first. Essential oils are very powerful and too strong to apply directly to the skin, particularly in such a sensitive area. Favorite choices are myrtle, horse chestnut, oil of cloves, cooling peppermint, and cypress oil. Some people create a balm using a neutral base cream to which they add the oils and then apply. Essential oils can only be used for external hemorrhoids, they should never be applied to internal areas.
- Epsom salts – in a warm bath can help calm the intense irritation and soreness and this is particularly helpful after a bowel movement. You can also use a ‘sitz’ bath which is a small plastic basin that fits nearly over the toilet seat allowing you to sit and bathe without the requirement to actually have a bath
- Cold compresses – for intense bouts of pain and soreness, a cold compress can provide instant relief and helps to reduce inflammation and throbbing. Use a special small ice pack or crushed ice in a bag. Always wrap your ice inside a cloth or paper towel, and never apply anything very cold directly onto the skin.
- Medicated cooling pads – try Tucks medicated cooling pads, combined with a benzocaine ointment below:
Tucks hemorrhoidal pads contain Witch Hazel for rapid soothing – they can be folded and used as a moist compress on inflamed tissue
Americaine Hemorrhoidal Ointment – contains 20% Benzocaine and offers near-immediate pain relief
Making some daily lifestyle changes can help hemorrhoids to resolve more quickly and even prevent them from occurring in the first place.
- Try to avoid either standing or sitting for long periods of time
- If you do sit, try not to sit for long periods on hard surfaces
- Keep physically active as this will help to foster regular and healthy bowel movements
- Avoid tight clothes made of artificial fabrics like polyester, opt for light breathable fabrics and cotton underwear. It is important that you can keep the sensitive area around the rectum clean and dry
- Avoid fragranced washing detergents and fabric softeners when you do your laundry
- If you suffer regularly from constipation then change your diet to include more fiber. Straining on the toilet will create hemorrhoids and will certainly make existing hemorrhoids worse. For more prompt relief from constipation, there are stool softeners available that you can take by mouth, in capsule, liquid, or powder form depending on what is most convenient
- To minimize the impact of constipation, you should visit the toilet when you first feel the urge. To delay matters because you think there will be no action, only makes things worse as the bowel then has time to reabsorb the water from the stools making them even harder to pass, literally
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid sugar-laden foods, and processed and packaged foods that do not engender healthy gut function
- Drink plenty of water which helps to prevent constipation and slow down of gut transit
If your hemorrhoids are very persistent or suddenly become incredibly painful then you may need to seek medical advice.
There are a number of minimally invasive procedures that can be carried out at a local clinic to relieve different hemorrhoid problems. You should always speak to your doctor or healthcare professional if you are worried about your hemorrhoids.
References and Further Reading
Home remedies for hemorrhoids: https://www.healthline.com/health/home-remedies-for-hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids, and what to do about them: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/hemorrhoids_and_what_to_do_about_them
Essential oils for hemorrhoids: https://www.healthline.com/health/essential-oils-for-hemorrhoids