It is not unusual for our patients to wonder “Can hemorrhoids become infected?” While it is certainly possible, an infection is relatively rare. Usually, hemorrhoids only affect your quality of life, causing pain and itching. Occasionally, though, life-threatening systemic infections or difficult-to-control bleeding may occur.
If you believe you have hemorrhoids or experience other symptoms of an anal or rectal issue, it is a good idea to see your doctor or a colon and rectal specialist for a proper diagnosis. Fearing the embarrassment of an exam, many people try to wait it out and try home remedies before seeing a doctor. This wait could allow a serious infection to develop. It is a better idea to see a doctor as soon as possible. This also means relief will likely come quicker, as well.
When Do Hemorrhoids Become Infected?
External hemorrhoids are often the most irritating, causing painful burning and itching. Internal hemorrhoids most commonly cause painless bleeding but can rarely become infected. You can suffer from one type or the other, or both at once. In most cases, there is enough circulation to the area to keep immune system cells pumping and reduce the risk of infections.
The most common situation where hemorrhoids become infected is when a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid becomes trapped outside the anus. Usually, they can be gently pushed back inside. If not, you should see an emergency department doctor, your primary physician, or a hemorrhoid specialist as soon as possible. If you do not get the medical care required to deal with a prolapsed hemorrhoid, it can become strangulated. If it does not get the blood flow necessary to keep the tissue alive, an infection can develop surprisingly quickly.If this occurs, you will need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
If you wait longer and infection begins to set in, you may need a more invasive procedure as well as antibiotics. Serious systemic infections are possible if you do not get medical care and the infection spreads.
Post-Hemorrhoid Procedure Infections
If you undergo a hemorrhoid banding, stapling, or removal procedure, there is also the risk of infection. This risk is also relatively low, however. Any surgical site can become infected, but this is less likely after a hemorrhoid procedure than many other surgeries.
Perineal sepsis is perhaps the least likely complication of a hemorrhoid procedure, but it is also potentially deadly so it is important to watch for signs of it after surgery. If your pain gets worse, you develop a fever, or have difficulty urinating after your procedure, you need to contact your surgeon right away. This is especially true if you have diabetes, a compromised your immune system, or are neutropenic. All of these conditions increase your risk of infection.
If you contact us because of a potential infection after your hemorrhoid procedure, we will schedule an evaluation as soon as possible. During this evaluation, we will inspect your surgical site as well as consider your other symptoms. In some cases we may need to remove the ligature or staple and/or debride the area. If you have an infection, we may prescribe antibiotics even if a procedure is not necessary.
When people try to diagnose their own issues, or when an inexperienced doctor does not complete an adequate visual examination, a misdiagnosis can occur. Hemorrhoids are the most common issue that affects the anal area, so it can be easy to write any symptoms off as hemorrhoids and apply home treatment. However, when hemorrhoid treatments do not help and the pain actually gets worse, the sufferer quickly realizes there is something more serious going on.
It is not unusual for people to think they suffer from hemorrhoids when they actually have a much more serious perianal abscess. If this happens to you and you do not see a doctor quickly, you could develop a systemic infection. Redness around the anus, a lump that appears to contain pus, or worsening symptoms indicate the need for emergency medical care. If you do not see a doctor or specialist who can surgically drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics, you could develop a fever, chills, and even more serious symptoms.