You don’t always have to visit a doctor to find ways to ease your hemorrhoid pain, swelling, and itching. Sometimes, the best treatments for hemorrhoids are those that you can do yourself at home.
Keep reading till the end to find out 8 DIY tips and home remedies that will help you deal with your hemorrhoids.
Why do Hemorrhoids Occur and How long do they Last?
Sometimes, hemorrhoids — also called piles — develop for no apparent reason. But most of the time, they are associated with long-standing constipation or diarrhea, prolonged sitting on the toilet, and excessive straining when passing stool.
Once they occur, they typically last for about 1-2 weeks. However, hemorrhoids with blood clots may take an extra few weeks to heal and may leave scars because of tissue damage in the area.
You can reduce your risk of hemorrhoids by:
- Including enough fiber in your diet (14 grams for every 1,000 calories)
- Staying hydrated (drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily)
- Exercising regularly (at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week)
Can you Treat Hemorrhoids at Home?
Yes, you can sometimes relieve hemorrhoids at home. There are a number of effective DIY hemorrhoid treatment options available at home or in the shape of over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Many of them involve simply reducing the symptoms of hemorrhoids until they resolve on their own.
However, before getting started, it’s important to see a doctor and receive a proper diagnosis. Even if hemorrhoids aren’t dangerous, it’s important to get evaluated for rectal bleeding to ensure nothing more sinister is going on.
After that, you can start exploring some of the following home remedies.
One of the best ways to soothe irritation and swelling from hemorrhoids is taking warm baths.
You could try using a sitz bath — a plastic tub that can be placed over a toilet seat so you can submerge the affected area — or sit in a tub filled with lukewarm water just enough to cover the legs.
For best results, it’s recommended to take warm baths for at least 15 minutes several times a day, especially after each bowel movement.
Adding ingredients like apple cider vinegar and Epsom salts to the bath may increase its effectiveness.
Aloe vera is commonly used to treat skin conditions and hemorrhoids due to its anti-inflammatory effect. It can be effective in providing relief from itching, swelling, and burning caused by hemorrhoids.
Plus, it also has immune-activating properties that help the body fend off infections that may develop in the irritated areas around the hemorrhoids.
Aloe vera gel is often used as an ingredient in lotions and sunscreens. However, you should use only pure aloe vera gel on hemorrhoids, as other additives and preservatives can irritate them and worsen your symptoms.
Lastly, allergy to aloe vera is quite common, therefore it’s essential to check for allergic reactions before use.
You can check if you’re allergic to aloe vera by:
- Rubbing a small amount on your forearm
- Waiting for 1-2 days
- If no reaction occurs, it should be safe to use
Simply apply an appropriate amount to the affected region using a gentle massaging action and let it stay for 15 minutes before washing it off. Repeat this process 1-2 times a day.
You can enhance the soothing properties of aloe vera by refrigerating it for a few minutes before use.
Witch hazel is an astringent — a substance that causes cells to shrink. This property makes it good for treating hemorrhoids.
Its astringent properties help reduce swelling in tissues, which causes relief of hemorrhoid-associated itching and pain.
Additionally, it contains several anti-inflammatory substances like tannins, which also help reduce swelling in hemorrhoidal tissue.
It can be applied directly to hemorrhoids by adding a small quantity to a ball of cotton and gently wiping the affected region a few times each day, especially after having a bowel movement.
However, it should never be diluted with alcohol, as this can irritate and dry out hemorrhoids even further.
It’s important to clean the anal area to make it free of fecal material that could irrirate your hemorrhoids.
However, using toilet paper after each bowel movement will only irritate existing hemorrhoids. Moistened wet wipes, on the other hand, will help keep the area clean without causing extra irritation.
For even better results, try using wet wipes with soothing anti-hemorrhoid ingredients like aloe vera or witch hazel.
Just make sure to avoid wipes with added perfumes, alcohol, or other irritants, as these substances can make symptoms worse and cause unwanted irritation.
Comfortable Cotton Clothing
Swapping out tight polyester underwear with looser, softer, and breathable cotton alternatives helps keep the rectal area dry and clean, and reduces the risk of infections in damaged or raw skin.
You should also avoid the use of perfumed fabric softeners and detergents, as they can also irritate your hemorrhoids.
Applying ice packs for 15 minutes at a time to hemorrhoids can also relieve swelling and pain. Ideally, this process should be repeated every hour or so.
Cold compresses are especially effective at temporarily numbing pain and discomfort from hemorrhoidal flare-ups.
Just make sure to wrap ice inside a towel or cloth. Applying anything frozen directly to your skin is never a good idea as you may end up with skin damage.
A high-fiber diet helps hemorrhoids. And psyllium husk boosts your fiber intake and softens stools, making them much easier to pass. When your stool is soft and bowel movements are quicker, you have a higher chance of a quick recovery.
However, it’s important not to go overboard with fiber supplements and take too much, too quickly, as it may lead to stomach cramps or gas.
Also, be sure to drink a lot of water if you’re taking psyllium husk or other fiber supplements!
A number of OTC ointments, pads, and creams that contain witch hazel or hydrocortisone are easily available in drugstores. And applying a hemorrhoid cream can help reduce swelling, itching, and pain caused by the condition.
However, experts recommend using OTC products containing hydrocortisone for up to one week only. This is because hydrocortisone can cause your skin to dry and weaken.
If your symptoms last beyond a week or your cream causes a rash around the area, follow up with your healthcare provider.
When to see a Doctor for Hemorrhoids?
You should see a doctor if your hemorrhoids don’t improve with DIY treatment options or if they are grade III or IV hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are graded according to how severe they are:
- Grade I: these hemorrhoids do not pop out of the anus
- Grade II: these hemorrhoids occasionally come out of the anus but go back on their own
- Grade III: these hemorrhoids have to be pushed back into the anus manually
- Grade IV: these hemorrhoids can’t be pushed back into the anus and may have a blood clot inside them
Grade II and III hemorrhoids are usually treated directly with office-based procedures. These include rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy (painless injections next to the hemorrhoid), and infrared coagulation. Grade IV hemorrhoids, on the other hand, are treated with surgery. Surgery for hemorrhoids includes arterial ligation, hemorrhoidectomy, and hemorrhoidopexy (also known as PPH or hemorrhoidal stapling. This is a much less painful procedure compared with a traditional hemorrhoidectomy, and it is associated with excellent results.).
The DIY treatments discussed above are usually enough for grade I hemorrhoids. However, even these hemorrhoids can persist sometimes and may need to be treated with an office-based procedure or surgery.
Now you Know you can DIY Your Hemorrhoids!
In most cases of hemorrhoids, simple DIY remedies like drawing warm baths, using aloe vera gel/witch hazel ointments, and fiber supplements like psyllium are often the only treatment that is required.
However, speak with a doctor if your symptoms worsen or refuse to improve after DIY methods.
Getting prompt treatment when you notice worsening symptoms can prevent unnecessary complications from developing.
Lastly, be sure to include enough fiber in your diet, stay hydrated, and exercise regularly to prevent hemorrhoids from coming back in the future.