Hemorrhoids are veins in or near the lower rectum and anal canal that have become swollen and stretch, which affect as many as 3/4 of the American population at some point in their lives, causing itching, irritation, burning, pain or bleeding in the anal area. Internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids are the main types of hemorrhoids. Those prone to hemorrhoids can help manage their symptoms more effectively if they learn home remedies for hemorrhoids that minimize their discomfort.
Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids
1. Relieve the Pain
- Apply cider vinegar. Applying plain apple cider vinegar can help relieve the burning and itching associated with this condition. This ingredient is also known for shrinking swollen vessels. Apply this ingredient gently with a cotton ball after wiping in the bathroom.
- Aloe vera. Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve your hemorrhoid irritation. Applying the clear gel from an Aloe Vera leaf to the affected area can provide relief for your symptoms.
- Pain relievers. Non-prescription pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen can help minimize the swelling associated with hemorrhoids.
- Compress. A cold compress can be applied to the anal area for 10 minutes at a time to reduce swelling. Alternate this with a warm compress for an additional 10-20 minutes to provide relief.
- Sitz bath. A sitz bath helps encourage blood circulation which can help relieve hemorrhoids. Fill a tub with just enough water to cover the anal area and sit, soaking the anal area for approximately 15 minutes. Avoid using water that is hot enough to burn. Perform this several times a day, particularly after you have had a bowel movement to encourage relief.
2. Soften Stools
- Keep hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help keep your digestive system moving. Patients are recommended to drink at least eight small glasses of water or fluids that are non-caffeinated throughout the day. Eating fruits and vegetables can also help patients stay hydrated as necessary.
- Increase dietary fiber. Fiber helps break down food passing through the digestive system, resulting in softer stools that are easier to pass without putting strain on the body. Consuming foods such as whole grains, dried beans, fruits and vegetables can help you increase your fiber intake.
- Avoid certain foods and drinks. Foods and beverages high in caffeine can make the colon “lazy” causing it to depend on these substances to function at its peak level. When caffeine is not present in the system, it can cause the bowels to strain, increasing your risk of hemorrhoids. Alcohol can also dehydrate the system, making it difficult to digest food effectively.
3. Alter the Lifestyle
- Exercise. Exercising regularly helps encourage proper digestive function. Walking at a brisk pace for a short amount of time will help promote better digestive habits that will help you avoid hemorrhoids.
- Squat in a different position. Some believe that squatting in a more natural position can help avoid strain when using the bathroom. Propping the feet up on a footstool or pulling your knees toward the chest may help avoid hemorrhoids.
- Keep the area clean. Residue on the anus can cause irritation to the skin. Gently clean the area with toilet paper, then apply cornstarch to keep the area dry. Wipes are available to help keep the anus clean without causing irritation. If necessary, prescription wipes are available as well.
- Use a soft seat. Those that must sit for long periods of time should sit on a cushion or doughnut to take the pressure of the anus when sitting. Work to take short breaks to walk around throughout the day to help relieve pressure.
- Stay a healthy weight. People who are overweight are more likely to develop hemorrhoids. Working to stay within a healthy weight range can help you avoid many health concerns and take pressure off the anus.
- Have bed rest. Those that are pregnant may find it helpful to lie on their side or sleep on their stomach with a pillow under the hips to relieve hemorrhoids. Bed rest can take pressure off the glands, allowing swollen hemorrhoids to release.
- Wear proper garments. Cotton undergarments can help prevent moisture from collecting near the anal area, which can cause irritation to hemorrhoids.
4. Avoid Making It Worse
- Avoid straining. Unless you feel the urge to do so, do not try to use the bathroom. If you find you are spending more time in the bathroom than necessary can put strain on the bowels, increasing your risk of hemorrhoids.
- Head to the toilet when urgent. If you feel the need to use the bathroom, do not put it off. The longer stool remains in the digestive tract, the more moisture will be lost, making it harder to pass.
- Use proper toilet paper. Using gentle toilet paper moistened with water or wiping with baby wipes can help to minimize irritation to the bowel area when in the bathroom.
- Avoid rubbing. Rinse your toilet paper and pat gently, using a more absorbent cloth to avoid rubbing. Rubbing can irritate the skin, causing damage to the already sensitive veins.
- Use the right soaps. Soaps that have perfumes or dyes can irritate the bowl area.
- Avoid longtime sitting or standing. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can irritate hemorrhoids. Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you must sit for long periods of time, sit on a pillow to minimize strain.