Around 1 in 20 Americans and almost half of all individuals experience hemorrhoids by age 50. Plus, women who’ve recently given birth are prone to developing hemorrhoids because of the increased pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvic area during childbirth.
And while hemorrhoids are benign, they can have a significant negative impact on your physical, mental, and social well-being. This means they can turn even the brightest of days into discomfort-filled nightmares.
So, what’s the solution? How can you bid farewell to these unwelcome visitors and get back to enjoying life? That’s what we’re here to figure out. Let’s check out several ways to shrink hemorrhoids fast.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are bluish or red lumps that appear when the blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum get inflamed and swell, causing them to expand and push outwards.
Several factors can contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. These include:
- A family history of the condition
- Frequent straining during bowel movements
- Long-term constipation or diarrhea
Hemorrhoid symptoms can include blood in stools, pain around the anus, and itching, all of which severely affect patient quality of life.
Unfortunately, the more severe your symptoms are, the longer it will take your hemorrhoids to shrink.
What are the different types of hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are classified based on their degree of prolapse and location. Let’s take a look at them below:
- Internal Hemorrhoids – They develop inside the rectum, can’t be seen or felt, and are rarely painful. However, these hemorrhoids might act up during bowel movements and lead to blood spots.
- External Hemorrhoids – They form under the skin around the anus and cause bleeding, swelling, itching, and discomfort in and around the anal region.
- Prolapsed Hemorrhoids – These form when an internal hemorrhoid swells and bulges out of the anus during straining. They have four grades, ranging from non-prolapsed to fully prolapsed hemorrhoids requiring surgery. The higher the grade, the longer it will take the hemorrhoid to shrink. And in some cases, the hemorrhoid will not go away without surgery (like rubber band ligation).
- Thrombosed Hemorrhoids – These are blue-red-colored internal or external painful hemorrhoids that contain a blood clot. And although these are very painful, thrombosed hemorrhoids usually shrink on their own within five days.
What shrinks hemorrhoids fast?
While most small hemorrhoids shrink within a week, the following treatments can speed up and optimize the healing process so you can get rid of hemorrhoids faster.
1. Over-the-counter treatments
Over-the-counter treatments for hemorrhoids can be convenient and easy to access. Here are some of the best:
a. Topical treatments and wipes
If you’re struggling with mild symptoms, topical treatments could help you control them. These OTC medicines can be bought as creams and suppositories and contain ingredients like corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and local anesthesia.
Topical treatments have been shown to be effective in several studies. For instance, a 2015 study showed that PP110 Wipes, Preparation-H®, and PP110 Gel reduce swelling by 24.3%, 11%, and 9.2%, respectively.
It also revealed that Preparation-H® reduced pain and discomfort levels by 10%, while PP110 Gel led to a 2% improvement. PP110 Wipes, however, caused a 3% increase in discomfort and pain symptoms.
So, if you’re looking for ways to reduce pain and other hemorrhoidal symptoms, you should try Preparation-H® and PP110 Gel.
b. Pain relievers
Here are some OTC painkillers you can take:
- Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol and Feverall).
However, you should avoid using non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen because they can cause rectal bleeding to become worse.
Aside from that, you can also use ointments with lidocaine and tribenoside — such as Lidoderm, LidaMantle, and Regenecare — to relieve pain symptoms. These have been shown to be “excellent” at reducing pain, bleeding, itching, and burning, especially when combined.
For instance, in a clinical study, patients experienced a 93% reduction in bleeding, 72% in anal itching, and 56% in pain when using a combination of lidocaine and tribenoside creams.
c. Stool softeners
Straining and constipation are the primary contributors to hemorrhoid development, with both increasing damage around anal tissues. Drugs with stool-softening agents can reduce these instances by allowing stool to absorb more water and fat, causing it to soften.
Some stool-softening drugs or laxatives include bisacodyl (Dulcolax) and docusate (Correctol).
2. Home remedies for pain relief
You can also try several effective home remedies to reduce inflammation and speed up hemorrhoid shrinkage.
a. Take sitz baths
If you’ve been struggling with pain caused by hemorrhoids, a sitz bath is a time-honored way to relieve it. Here’s what to do:
- Fill a sitz tub or a rectangular inflatable pool with three inches of lukewarm water.
- Sit in the bath for 15 minutes at least three to four times daily. This will help decrease pain, reduce swelling, and relax your muscles.
You can also use Epsom salts like magnesium sulfate if you want to during your bath. These are thought to relax your muscles, reduce inflammation, and tone down swelling. However, more studies are needed to prove these claims.
b. Use cold compresses and ice packs
Constant exposure to air or moisture can cause mild to severe itchiness. If you’re struggling with itching, you can use cold compresses and ice packs to numb the area. Make sure to wrap them in a thin cloth so you don’t shock your muscles and cause burns.
You may have to apply cold compresses several times throughout the day for long-term relief.
c. Wear loose cotton clothing
Clothing made from acrylic and nylon doesn’t allow moisture to wick away, which increases itchiness and discomfort and is a good way to irritate hemorrhoids. So, try to wear loose cotton clothing — preferably lawn or Egyptian cotton — to reduce discomfort.
d. Reduce the itching with witch hazel
Witch hazel is an astringent that soothes and temporarily relieves the discomfort, burning, and itching caused by hemorrhoids. It works by removing moisture and tightening the skin. You can apply it externally to get relief from external hemorrhoids.
Some witch hazel astringents include:
- Preparation-H® wipes and pads
- Tucks® wipes
- Boiron Hamamelis Virginiana 30c.
e. Apply coconut oil to the area
Coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, which means it can reduce swelling and inflammation. It also has pain-relieving or analgesic properties, helping reduce pain and discomfort caused by hemorrhoids.
So, if the area around your hemorrhoids feels inflamed or painful, you can apply it topically to reduce these symptoms. But if that doesn’t work, you could mix coconut oil with witch hazel and apply the mixture to your hemorrhoids using a cotton ball. It’ll soothe the area and relieve pain.
You can also shape coconut oil into bullets using a silicone mold or cut them into appropriate widths. You can freeze these suppositories for later use.
How to prevent hemorrhoids?
So those were some ways to treat hemorrhoids and make them shrink fast. However, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to this condition. But which changes should you make to your lifestyle to avoid these painful lumps from popping up again and again? Let’s take a look at the best:
1. Increase your fiber intake
Straining can damage the muscles around the anus, causing hemorrhoids. Fiber supplementation in the form of psyllium (Metamucil) or other soluble fiber options can eliminate straining by enhancing water absorption, reducing gut transit time, and improving gut motility.
In fact, clinical studies show fiber can reduce the risk of bleeding, itching, prolapse, and pain by 47% to 50%. Six-week and three-month follow-ups also showed consistent results over time, and one study also suggested a significant decrease in recurrence.
So you should eat at least 28 grams of fiber per 2,000 calories consumed, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025.
2. Stay hydrated
An inadequate fluid intake can cause your body to think you don’t have enough water, which means it takes out as much water from your stools as possible. This leads to hard, lumpy, and dry stools that are hard to pass during a bowel movement.
Plus, in older adults, liquid deprivation from 500 to 2500 ml per day leads to significant dehydration and constipation, which can cause hemorrhoids. To avoid that from happening, drink at least six to eight glasses of water daily to keep your stools soft.
3. Don’t strain
Straining or sitting on the toilet for too long waiting to “go” puts pressure on the blood vessels in and around your anus. This can lead to tissue damage and cause blood to pool in the area, increasing your risk for hemorrhoids.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, avoid sitting on the throne for longer than five minutes if nothing is happening. You can always come back.
4. Avoid medication that causes constipation
If you’re struggling with hemorrhoids, you should avoid constipation at all costs. This means eating as much fiber as possible and drinking enough water. However, it also means avoiding medications that cause constipation.
Here are some medications you should be aware cause constipation:
- Iron supplements
- Nausea medications like Zofran and Phenergan
- Narcotic pain medications like ConZip, Fentanyl, OxyContin, and Dilaudid
- Antacids with calcium, such as Maalox
- Antidepressants like Zoloft and Norpramin
- Blood pressure medicines like Norvasc, Cardizem, and Catapres
- NSAIDS like Advil, Aleve, and Motrin.
Also, keep in mind that some vitamins may contain iron. You should avoid these if you’re struggling with recurring hemorrhoids.
When should you see your doctor?
While hemorrhoids can be annoying, paying a visit to your doctor isn’t a must. But there are times when you have to go, such as:
1. Persistent or severe symptoms
Mild hemorrhoids can cause itching, pain, and discomfort, but they don’t leave you unable to sit upright or move without crying. If that happens, you most likely have a severe case and must schedule a visit with a colon and rectal surgeon who treats hemorrhoids.
Similarly, if you’re experiencing problems despite trying OTC ointments and at-home treatments, you should go for a visit. In fact, you should consult your doctor the moment you feel a little pain.
2. Recurring hemorrhoids
If your hemorrhoids keep coming back, something might be amiss with your diet or toilet habits. You might not be able to pinpoint these issues yourself, so going to a doctor is a must. They’ll help you understand which dietary and toilet habits you need to change.
Your doctor will also prescribe medications that can stop hemorrhoids from occurring so frequently.
3. Rectal bleeding or dark stools
Rectal bleeding occurs when you tear your hemorrhoids by straining too hard. If you notice blood on toilet paper, find the toilet water turning pink, or see dark red blood, get yourself checked as soon as possible because these can be a sign of a more serious condition (like rectal cancer).
A doctor’s visit goes double for bleeding that persists and causes dizziness, shock, and pain.
Now you know what shrinks hemorrhoids fast
Hemorrhoids are a fact of life. They’re experienced by millions of people across the US and the globe. And while they’re annoying, they aren’t untreatable.
You can use several at-home and OTC treatments to get quick relief. For instance, sitz baths, OTC ointments and suppositories, cold compresses, and stool softeners are tried-and-true ways to improve your quality of life.
But if you want long-term results, you should consider changing toilet habits like straining that lead to recurring hemorrhoids and adding fiber to your diet. That’s because long-term changes are the only way to get relief from hemorrhoids for as long as possible.
Do hemorrhoids go away on their own?
Yes, small hemorrhoids can clear up in a few days without causing significant pain or itchiness. However, larger hemorrhoids that are often itchy, painful, and hard may not go away on their own and require medical treatment or surgery, especially if they’re thrombosed or prolapsed.
What should you not use on hemorrhoids?
You should avoid using the following on your hemorrhoids:
- Uncovered ice cubes – These can stick to the moist, inflamed skin around your anus and cause pain.
- Hot water – It can lead to anal swelling, blood pooling, and increase the size of your hemorrhoids.
- Apple cider vinegar – While apple cider vinegar is a good astringent, it’s also acidic and can burn the skin, especially if it’s inflamed or irritated.
How do I know if my hemorrhoid is serious?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, you might have a serious hemorrhoid:
- Persistent rectal bleeding accompanied by dizziness
- Painful lumps at the anal opening
- Severe itching, swelling, and pain in and around the anus.