While they aren’t dangerous or life-threatening, hemorrhoids can cause immense discomfort and pain. Nearly three out of four adults will suffer from hemorrhoids at some point, making them a common problem that you may have to deal with.1 Thankfully, there are a variety of home remedies that can help to ease and prevent hemorrhoids so that you can maintain your comfort and health.
What are the Different Types of Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins appearing within the lower rectum and anus. Internal hemorrhoids show up inside the rectum. These rarely cause discomfort, and most people won’t even feel them or know they are there. However, any sort of irritation or straining during a bowel movement can damage the internal hemorrhoid, causing it to bleed. Sometimes, straining too hard will push the hemorrhoid out through the anal opening, resulting in a painful protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoid.
External hemorrhoids lie just under the skin surrounding the anus. This part of the anus is extremely sensitive and irritation can cause these hemorrhoids to bleed or itch. Blood can potentially pool within these external hemorrhoids, forming a clot. This is known as a thrombosed hemorrhoid and can result in a hard lump near your anus.1
The symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary based on the location. You can generally expect:
- Itching and irritation around the anus
- Potential bleeding during bowel movements (usually painless but noticeable on toilet tissue or in the toilet)
- Swelling around the anus
Complications from hemorrhoids are rare. If the blood supply gets completely cut off, a hemorrhoid may turn into a strangulated hemorrhoid, which can result in extreme pain.1
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
The veins in and around your anus are surprisingly sensitive and capable of stretching under pressure. This can eventually proceed to the bulging or swelling characteristic of a hemorrhoid. The cause of this swelling can vary from person to person based on their own personal health, but any pressure on the lower rectum can result in a hemorrhoid. This pressure may come from:
- Straining too hard during bowel movements
- Sitting for extended periods of time on the toilet. Avoid using your cellular phone, tablet or computer while using the restroom.
Hemorrhoids are more likely to occur if you don’t have regular bowel movements. An easy way to avoid constipation and maintain a regular schedule is to increase your dietary fiber. Fiber comprises indigestible plant material that does not dissolve in water. This allows it to add bulk to your fecal matter, which speeds up the process, while making your stools softer and larger for easier passage.3 A meta-analysis found that regular use of fiber significantly reduced nearly all symptoms of hemorrhoids, including bleeding, pain, itching, and prolapse, as well as a decrease in recurring cases of hemorrhoids.4
Diarrhea can cause you to strain harder when you move your bowels, which adds pressure that can result in the development of a hemorrhoid. One of the best natural ways to help with diarrhea is probiotics.
Dietary Natural Remedies for Hemorrhoids
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics refer to a variety of bacterial strains that may confer benefits to your overall health and wellbeing. Eating probiotic-rich food or taking probiotic supplements can help to maintain the gut microbiota and may contribute to better gut health, which includes more efficient absorption of nutrients, improved metabolism and digestion, and healthier bowel movements.7 Probiotics are known to reduce diarrhea and potentially prevent the occurrence of hemorrhoids.
Prebiotics for Healthy Digestion
This is also where fiber can come in handy.
You should generally aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, which you can get from a wide range of food sources, including:
- Whole grains
- Legumes (beans, lentils, split peas)
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fruits (bananas, apples, berries)
Most high-fiber foods are considered prebiotics, which are substances that essentially feed your good gut bacteria, allowing them to grow and thrive.8
It is also a good idea to avoid processed foods, which often do not contain dietary fiber or usable nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, and other natural foods offer fiber and a wide array of vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy digestion.9
Natural Remedies for Hemorrhoid Pain Relief
Hemorrhoids can make you uncomfortable, uneasy, and self-conscious. Thankfully, there are a wide range of natural remedies for hemorrhoids that can help to ease the pain and inflammation and potentially prevent the development of hemorrhoids in the future.
Commonly used as an anti-itch cream, hydrocortisone is able to reduce inflammation and irritation. It is available over-the-counter, is inexpensive, and can be applied externally.
Sitz baths are warm water baths designed to help you clean and heal your anus and hips. Using a sitz bath may help to relieve itching and irritation and prevent spasms in your sphincter. Experts recommend using a sitz bath for 20 minutes after every bowel movement along with an additional two to three extra times a day.10
Designed to relieve itching, burning, and pain, zinc oxide can help to form a protective barrier in and around the anus that can protect any inflamed, irritated tissue and make bowel movements less painful.11
Although research is limited, applying witch hazel to hemorrhoids has been shown to reduce itching, pain, and bleeding. Some believe the tannins and oils in witch hazel may naturally help to slow bleeding and reduce inflammation.6
Calamine lotion acts as an astringent to provide relief for itching and discomfort. It works by numbing the skin to block pain and itchiness.12
Menthol possesses analgesic, anesthetic, and anti-itching properties and offers a distinct cooling sensation that can provide further relief from itching and discomfort.13
Made from the wood and bark of the camphor tree, camphor can be applied topically to relieve pain and reduce itchiness by increasing blood flow to the applied area. Camphor is also an active antifungal, allowing it to prevent potential yeast infections while your hemorrhoids are healing.14
While hemorrhoids aren’t usually life threatening, they can detract from your general quality of life. If you need relief from hemorrhoids, use DrFormulas Hemorrhoid Treatment Cream with menthol, camphor, and other natural ingredients formulated to reduce swelling and discomfort.
Hemorrhoid Relief Cream