Five things that Exacerbate Hemorrhoid Symptoms

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

It’s no surprise that hemorrhoids can itch, burn, or even cause significant pain. External hemorrhoids are particularly irritating. Internal hemorrhoids can bleed, but usually have few other symptoms unless they prolapse.

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Consider these five things that can cause hemorrhoid pain:

A Thrombosed External Hemorrhoid

When you strain to use the bathroom or there is other extreme pressure on an external hemorrhoid, a blood clot can form inside the weakened blood vessels. When this occurs, the thrombosed hemorrhoid becomes extremely painful very quickly. In addition to the pain, you can likely feel a lump right outside your anus.

If possible, you should go to the emergency department of your local hospital, get into your doctor’s office that day, or come in to see us within the first day or so of the onset of this pain. We can offer quick relief from a minor procedure we can perform in our office. This procedure requires only local numbing, and takes only a few minutes.

If you do not receive treatment during this period, the clot should dissolve on its own within a few weeks. They often leave skin tags, which can cause problems of their own. However, the pain should resolve and you can manage it with sitz baths and over-the-counter medications if necessary.

Constipation and Straining During Bowel Movements

Constipation and straining during bowel movements not only cause hemorrhoids, but they also make them much more painful. When you are constipated, you strain more. When you do pass stools, they are often harder and larger. As you can imagine, this increases the pain you experience from your hemorrhoids and can cause tearing known as an anal fissure. You may also spend extra time sitting on the toilet, which can exacerbate the swelling and irritation of your hemorrhoids.

One of the best ways to effectively treat hemorrhoids without medical intervention is to eat a diet with a lot of fruits, vegetables, and grains. High fiber foods prevent constipation. In some cases, you also may need us to recommend a stool softener. By curing and preventing constipation, your body can heal faster.

Rubbing or Scratching the Area

Rubbing or scratching can further irritate the tender, inflamed skin. Use warm sitz baths or ice packs for relief. It is also a good idea to avoid wiping or drying off with a towel until your hemorrhoids heal. Some people keep a squirt bottle of warm water nearby to help them clean up after a bowel movement or use a bidet attachment, while others opt to hop in the shower to rinse off.

After a shower or sitz bath, you will want to be careful drying off with a towel as well. It is important to get the area dry, but you do not want to rub it as you normally might with a towel. You can allow the area to air dry by waiting a few minutes before getting dressed. Some people use a hair dryer on a warm setting or a fan to speed the process along.

Swelling and Inflammation

One of the biggest factors in hemorrhoid pain is inflammation. A warm sitz bath and over-the-counter painkillers are the usual recommendation for those with hemorrhoids that may go away with at-home care. If this is not as effective as you would like, you can try lying on your stomach and placing a small ice pack against the affected area for no more than ten minutes at a time. Many people find this can help reduce swelling and inflammation.

Extended Sitting

Extended sitting can irritate existing hemorrhoids, and lead to new ones. This is especially true if you sit on the toilet and read or play on the phone.  Sometimes, prolonged sitting on a hard surface for hours each day may irritate hemorrhoids. Choosing a cushioned seat helps somewhat. The real key is to exercise when possible, even if you just take a walk around the office once every few hours. The less time you can spend sitting, the better for healing hemorrhoids and preventing future occurrences.

For the Quickest Symptom Relief, See a Doctor

It is important to see your general practitioner or a colon and rectal specialist to ensure you have a proper diagnosis before you attempt any at-home treatment for your hemorrhoids. There are a number of other conditions that could cause similar symptoms, and many of them require prompt treatment.

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