Don’t stress out too much if you’re getting a sore or itchy bottom: Doctors know how to get rid of hemorrhoids, and you can probably do it easily at home.
What is a hemorrhoid?
A hemorrhoid is a swollen and inflamed blood vessel in your rear. It can be in the anus, or higher up in the rectum, the chamber from your large intestine that ends with your anus.
About half of Americans older than 50 experience hemorrhoids at any point in time, and most people get one eventually. The most likely cause is chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea. Women sometimes get them in the late stages of pregnancy. If you are overweight or have anal intercourse, you are more at risk.
An internal hemorrhoid inside the rectum may bulge out during a bowel movement. Often you don’t see or feel it, but you see bright red blood when you clean yourself.
An external hemorrhoid around the anus can get irritated and itch and burn. It can even become uncomfortable to sit. You might also see blood when you wipe. The irritation may become a hard lump, called a thrombosed hemorrhoid.
Rectal bleeding can be a sign of cancer, diverticulitis, or an infection, so it’s important to see a doctor. If you just have a hemorrhoid, you may be able to easily treat it at home.
How to get rid of hemorrhoids
You can try several home remedies for hemorrhoids before seeing a doctor.
Keep the area clean. Wash yourself with a washcloth, warm water, and mild soap. Rinse well, and pat yourself dry. You might try using moist towelettes, which are gentler than tissue. Some brands include aloe.
Apply an ointment. There are soothing over-the-counter products specifically for hemorrhoid treatment. You could try them for a week. You could also use aloe vera gel, or break off a small piece from a plant and squeeze out the gel inside.
Treat constipation. Drinking more water or other non-alcoholic liquids may help soften your stools.
Fiber also helps soften stools. Eat more legumes, whole grains, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. Or you can try an over-the-counter psyllium fiber supplements.
Take a bath. Warm water also soothes pain and promotes healing. You can buy a small tub — called a sitz bath — to put on top of the toilet seat, or use a bathtub.
Make sure the water is warm, not hot. You can add table salt, Epsom salts, chamomile, yarrow, or calendula.
Try to take a 20-minute bath after every bowel movement (a sitz bath makes that easier) or three soaks a day until the hemorrhoid heals. Always dry yourself thoroughly with a soft towel.
How long do hemorrhoids last?
Hemorrhoid symptoms may clear up in a few days if you adopt a home remedy or even without treatment.
Large internal hemorrhoids may require medical treatment. If you develop a hemorrhoid during pregnancy, it may hang around until you give birth.
The basic tip is not to put off going to the bathroom, and not to spend more than 10 minutes on the toilet at a stretch. If you are constipated, don’t keep struggling. Clean up, drink some water, and maybe go for a walk before you try again. Make sure you’re drinking enough and eating enough fiber.
Medical hemorrhoid treatment
If your home remedies fail, your doctor will advise you on how to get rid of hemorrhoids. The most common option by far is called rubber band ligation. Your doctor will tie a rubber band around the hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply. Other options: a hemorrhoid can be shrunk with infrared light, heat, extreme cold, or a chemical injection.
July 30, 2018