One of the life’s major annoyances and pain is the hemorrhoid. They are essentially varicose veins that could blow your head off. Normally, when they are not swollen and causing you pain, hemorrhoidal tissue help to move stool out of your rectum. They cushion the sensitive tissue at the end of the rectum from damage from hard stools. When they are swollen; however, they cause pain more often than not.
Two types of this annoyance exist: the external type and the internal type. The internal type causes bright red streaks of blood in your stool, as if you’re defecating blood. Often it is painless; but when severe, a small mass may be present. This is prolapsed tissue from inside your rectum. This can cause pain, itchiness, and even cause you to be fecally incontinent – that is, defecating without you knowing it. The external type is more common. You know it’s there because of a chunk of skin, called a skin tag. They are very painful especially when defecating and can be quite itchy at times. The pain even persists while sitting down which is worse.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown although researchers have found some links to irregular bowel habits, lack of exercise, low fiber diet, increased intra-abdominal pressure, genetics, aging, pregnancy, chronic cough, and prolonged sitting.
Thankfully, since it is such a widespread problem, we can do many things about it. Doctors have devised many ways to cut it off, laser it off, or shrink it off – everything a mad scientist would do! Nevertheless, for us non-mad scientists, we have also found ways to make things a lot more bearable. Listed here are 25 home and herbal remedies that you can try from the comfort of your own home and up to five popular medical treatments, from the commonplace drug to the near mad scientist-type experiment.
- Home-Based Remedies/Personal Care/Natural Options:
1. Avoid Making It Worse:
Hemorrhoids are one of those diseases that often go away by it. The trick is not to making it worse. What you can do is when wiping your bum after defecating, you may want to moisten your toilet paper first then blot about the area. Avoid using dry tissue paper as this may irritate the area further. You may also want to try using moist towelettes, especially those marketed for babies when cleaning their diapers. They are already pre-moistened and the material is quite soft. If you have a bidet then that is going to be even better. Just do not turn it on maximum, as the water jet may be too strong. Another thing, try not to use expensive perfumed soaps. A simple, unscented, and antibacterial soap will do to avoid irritating the skin.
2. Comfort Measures:
Now, there are going to be times when doing anything after defecating will be uncomfortable. The pain often lingers for a good 30 minutes to an hour. You can always pop a pill but you can also take a break. If you are pregnant, rest will be the more preferred option. If you have to sit for prolonged periods, try sitting on a pillow or better yet on a donut pillow. This cushions your bum from your hard seat, which constricts blood flow. Also, wear cotton underwear. I cannot stress this enough as women love to wear lingerie. Cotton underwear not only allows air to flow to keep the area dry, but it allows freedom of movement and reduces pressure in the area.
3. Cold and Hot Compress:
Apply ice or a cold compress several times a day for ten to fifteen minutes. Try not to go beyond 15 minutes as this can damage your skin. Cold, much like when used for muscle aches, helps numb the pain. Also, do not apply the ice directly; wrap it in a piece of cloth to avoid damaging your skin. Afterward, if the pain continues, you can apply a warm compress. This dilates the blood vessels to allow blood to flow to bring needed nutrients to heal the area. Moreover, it also brings some pain relief, much like a cold compress does.
4. Sitz Bath:
A sitz bath is a warm bath where the water submerges your body up to your hips. Think of it as a warm compress on a larger scale. Fill your bathtub with warm water, just enough to cover you up to the hips and submerge for a maximum of 20 minutes. Much like a warm compress, this dilates blood vessels to help heal the area and alleviate pain. Another variation is by using steam. If you can purchase yourself an inflatable rubber donut for sitz baths, place that over your toilet bowl. Pour some boiling water into the toilet bowl and sit on the donut for 20 minutes to allow the steam to rise to your bum and bring some comfort.
5. High Fiber Diet:
Not only a high fiber diet is the best natural treatment for hemorrhoids; it is also the best preventive measure. A diet high in fiber promotes bowel movement and prevents constipation, piles’ number one enemy. It helps to bulk up your stool by absorbing water and making it squishy. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Try some oatmeal, a granola bar, mix in some flaxseed with your cereal, or munch on a salad every now and then. If not all of that is possible, you can try purchasing fiber supplements in sachet form or capsule form. For the sachets, you can mix them in water, either in your tea, or in any other liquid and drink up. For the capsule, take two capsules three times a day.
6. Increase your Fluids:
This measure is used in conjunction with a high fiber diet. For fiber to bulk up and help you move your bowels, it needs water. It absorbs the water like the sponge and forms a gel like substance to help bulk up your stool. Other than that, water prevents you from having very dry stools. Any excess water not excreted by the kidneys is often flushed into the large intestine where it is reabsorbed by dry stools.
7. Probiotic Rich Diet:
Probiotics are good microorganisms that help to digest food in our gut. They help with overall bowel health and prevent constipation in general. It was proposed by Nobel-prize winner Dr. Elie Metchnikoff that we should consume these good bacteria and true enough, after decades of research, probiotics has had a profound effect on our immune system, digestive system, and overall health. Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, the drink Yakult, kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented drinks like kombucha. Taking a probiotic drink or snack once a day, will help to normalize your bowel movements; thus, helping to relieve constipation.
Do you need to exercise as well? Well yes, as much as doctors throw in the exercise cliche, so will any other person. When your butt does not hurt as much anymore, regular exercise actually helps. It promotes a regular bowel movement, which prevents constipation. In addition, exercise improves blood circulation, the number one problem of this ailment. Losing weight will also help speed your metabolism up and consequently, speed up your bowels.
9. Squat, Don’t Sit:
No, this is not a continuation of the exercise tip. Sitting is actually unnatural for us humans when we defecate. It puts excessively much strain on our rectal muscles to push, as the anus is not fully open when we sit. Ideally, we should be squatting where the anal opening is wide open, allowing for any material needing to get out to pass through easily. If it will be difficult for you to squat, you may want to try lifting the toilet seat to lower the toilet height, spread your legs as wide as possible and if you are still straining, try to hover in the air – much like when we were told by our teachers to squat in the air back in school. This really helps a lot if you start taking this solution quite seriously.
10. Aloe Vera:
This wonderful plant can be used in one of the two ways. First, it can be used as a fiber supplement to prevent constipation. Aloe has several commercial preparations, most commonly as jellies, that help with overall digestive health. Second, aloe can be used as an ointment. You can apply aloe vera gel to the anal area to sooth the pain and promote healing.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar is both an astringent and an anti-inflammatory. It helps to reduce the swelling and the size of the hemorrhoidal mass. Soak some vinegar on a cotton ball and dab it on the area to provide some relief. Repeat this process everyday to help resolve symptoms. Alternatively, you can also add half a cup of apple cider vinegar to a sitz bath as it will have the same effect.
Rutin is a compound found in some citrus fruits and some plants. Research has found it to be an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and an anti-hemorrhoidal among others. Although newly discovered, this compound has many practical uses and is already being prescribed in clinics as supplements. Several patients have found it to be effective, shrinking the size of the tissue in one to two weeks. You can purchase rutin as supplemental capsules in health food stores.
13. Witch Hazel:
Another astringent and anti-inflammatory, witch hazel comes in many preparations. You can purchase the oil form, soak a cotton ball, and dab it to the area. You may also buy moist wipes that already have with hazel extract and use that to wipe your bum.
Yes, Vicks is another treatment option for this disease. It may sound insane but so many sufferers have claimed it to work. We are not sure how it works but as Vicks has menthol and camphor, potent anti-inflammatories and analgesics, we presume that it helps to the job. To keep things sanitary, wipe some Vicks on a cotton ball and apply it to the area.
Garlic seems to be all over the place when it comes to herbal treatments. Nevertheless, it just has to be because it is that effective. It is a very potent anti-inflammatory especially when used for the digestive system. We suggest mixing finely minced garlic to some Vicks and applying it to the area to do double the job.
16. Ginkgo Biloba:
This traditional Chinese herb is another potent anti-inflammatory. It is being sold in Asian countries at very high prices because of its effective medicinal qualities. You can purchase it in capsule form to which you can take up to three times a day. In a week or two, you should see some shrinkage of the inflamed tissue.
17. Horse Chestnut:
Horse chestnut is an anti-inflammatory and astringent. It helps to shrink tissue and reduce the pain. If you heard of the Christmas song “Chestnuts Roasting over an Open Fire,” that is what you should be wondering. When roasted, they taste really well. When used as a tea, drink up after steeping and use the teabag as a compress on the swollen tissue.
Oak is another natural remedy with anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Often, the bark is used to treat varicosities. Boil a teaspoon of the bark, or half an inch, in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Use the liquid as a compress to the area. Though popularly mentioned as an enema, it is highly advised that you avoid enemas when you have hemorrhoids as this may further damage the tissue creating more harm than good.
19. Butcher’s Broom:
Another herb that has been used for centuries to heal hemorrhoids is Butcher’s Broom. It contains anti-inflammatory and vasoconstrictive compounds that shrink the veins in the tissue, shrink the surrounding tissue, and promote healing. You can purchase Butcher’s Broom as a tea and after steeping it in hot water for five minutes, drink up the tea, and use the teabag as a compress on the area.
20. Stone Root:
This is another anti-inflammatory and astringent herb. It helps to reduce the pressure of the veins especially when you feel that pulsating pain when you sit down. You can purchase extracts of this herb to which you can apply directly to the area, of course with a cotton ball.
Much like the previously mentioned herbs, goldenrod is another anti-inflammatory, as are most medications for hemorrhoids. Steep some goldenrod tea, drink up, and use the teabag as a warm compress.
22. Gotu Kola:
This herb is specially used for varicosities. As piles is a rectal varicosity, gotu kola helps to narrow down the tortuous veins and bring them back to normal. A tea can be made from its leaves but beware, it can cause extreme drowsiness. To counteract this problem, you can always boil the leaves for a minute and wrap it in a cloth to which you can use as a compress.
This herb will be helpful for those with bleeding hemorrhoids. It has been used in Eastern Europe to help stop bleeding quickly. You can purchase its characteristic blue extract and apply it to the wound to stop bleeding. It is also a potent astringent and it can help shrink the swelling.
This herb is especially useful for itchy hemorrhoids. Itching is bad, as it may want you to keep moving, rubbing, and even scratching the area to relieve the itch. That is not a good thing as it can aggravate the area and even damage the skin causing an infection. You can purchase Collinsonia extract and apply it to the area to prevent it itching.
25. Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil is another herbal remedy for piles. It has moisturizing properties especially when the skin around the anal area is quite irritated. It helps to reduce the irritation. Apply a bit of the oil to the area. If possible, try to use virgin coconut oil.
- Medical/Surgical Options:
26. Analgesics and Corticosteroids:
Analgesics or painkillers are most often prescribed as symptomatic treatment for hemorrhoids. If you have just experienced this condition, it is often wise to sit it out a while as it resolves by itself. To contain the pain, however, you may pop a pill or two of ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can also try steroidal creams with its main ingredient of cortisone to help reduce the swelling and pain. Still, if that does not do the job, lidocaine creams are also available. These are topical anesthetics and are much more powerful than your typical Advil. If the pain is unbearable, it may be time to consult your physician.
As piles are essentially veins, vasoconstrictors are often called in to do their job. These are medications that shrink the blood vessels. Epinephrine or adrenaline is the vasoconstrictor of choice as it is fast acting and does not have any serious side effects. They come in the form of suppositories or creams. Often, they are also partnered with an analgesic (usually lidocaine) and petroleum jelly to protect the skin around the area.
28. Ligation and Cauterization:
If the enlarged blood vessels are protruding, an office-based procedure may be called for. Ligation is the application of elastic bands to cut off the blood supply of the area. Usually after a week, the tissue starts to die and falls off by itself. When done properly, it has a cure rate in the range of 87%. Cauterization is the burning of the hemorrhoid to close the blood vessel. This may be done with lasers, electrocautery, infrared cautery, or cryocautery. All of these methods have shown to be effective but reoccurrence rates are quite high.
Sclerotherapy is the injection of a sclerosing agent, usually a phenol, into the area to collapse the blood vessels. Think of them as vasoconstrictors on steroids. It causes the hemorrhoids to shrivel up and return to normal size. In fact, this sort of treatment is one the finest treatments used for varicose veins of the legs. It collapses the blood vessels to remove the unsightly appearance. As piles are essentially varicosities, the procedure works without a hitch.
When severe, piles may require surgery. If the vessels are thrombosed, meaning the vein is blocked by a blood clot, the tissue may start to die from the lack of blood. The tissue starts to rot and may cause an infection. Surgical removal will then be indicated. Surgeons will do either one of three things: excise the necrotic tissue with a blade, cut off the blood supply, or staple back the hemorrhoid to its original position. This is the last line of defense for this ailment as it causes considerable pain after surgery. Often, patients are prescribed painkillers round-the-clock and even have analgesic ointments to help with the pain. Moreover, it brings several complications, most notably incontinence.
Fifty percent of Americans will have had hemorrhoids at some point in their life by age 50. It is a widespread problem brought about by our change in diet plans to those with less fiber. It is recommended that you improve your diet to prevent recurrence of this problem. Exercise is also highly recommended to get your circulatory system back in proper working order. For pregnant women, there is no need to worry as most cases resolve after childbirth. If not, you can always as your Ob-Gyne to push back the tissue, one of the more primitive yet highly effective methods for mild cases.
There is no need to worry. Many herbal and home remedies are used nowadays to fight against this disease. Amongst which Vicks, witch hazel, rutin, and garlic are effective. If they do not work, you can always consult your physician and pick among the myriad of effective treatments for this perineal problem. Despite it being such a pain, it is not a permanent problem; but with a good doctor and religious adherence to treatment, as the hall-of-fame baseball player George Brett mentioned in the 1980 World Series, “all those problems are behind me” – if you know what I mean.