Hemorrhoids occur when veins in the rectum or anus swell, causing pain. There are two types of hemorrhoids: external and internal. External hemorrhoids are most often associated with typical hemorrhoid symptoms. These symptoms include intense pain, anal itching, bleeding, lumps and bowel incontinence.
Anal pain is the primary symptom of a hemorrhoid. An internal hemorrhoid may cause a small amount of pain during bowel movements, but rarely lead to acute pain. External hemorrhoids, however, can cause significant pain. This pain may be intensified by a blood clot in the hemorrhoid, a condition that requires medical treatment.
Anal itching, ranging from mild to intense, is a common symptom of hemorrhoids. The itching may occur before and after the onset of intense, hemorrhoid-related pain. While the urge to relieve anal itching by scratching is natural, it is of critical importance that individuals do not scratch. Scratching can bring bacteria in contact with the skin, increasing the risk for infection. Scratching may also tear or split the skin, causing a fissure. Over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams and astringent pads can help reduce hemorrhoid-related anal itching.
An external hemorrhoid may appear as a bright red lump near the anus. If a blood clot forms, the lack of blood flow can cause the hemorrhoid to look blue, black or deep purple. Hemorrhoid lumps may gradually shrink and disappear over time only to reappear again in the future. An internal hemorrhoid may also protrude from the rectum, a condition known as a prolapsed hemorrhoid. The prolapsed hemorrhoid may return inside the anus on its own, or can be gently pushed back in by the patient.
A small amount of bowel incontinence is also symptomatic of a hemorrhoid. Because hemorrhoids are painful to the touch, it may be difficult for the patient to carefully clean and wipe the anus following a bowel movement. As a result, leaking due to poor cleansing may occur. A wet wipe or cloth should be used to properly cleanse the area and reduce the risk of infection.
If you are suffering from a hemorrhoid, talk to your doctor about your treatment options and the best way to relieve pain.