Hemorrhoids occur because of excessive strain in the rectum and anus that causes inflammation of the veins in the area.
This may be due to a variety of causes and factors, from pregnancy to poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle to chronic constipation or diarrhea. While particularly severe hemorrhoids should be dealt with by a doctor, you can often manage the symptoms of milder cases right at home.
Pain and Swelling Remedies
Since the main cause of the pain is the inflammation of veins, simply taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen, may help relieve symptoms. Over-the-counter creams made specifically for hemorrhoids can also be quite helpful. Preparation H and similar products contain phenylephrine, an ingredient that makes blood vessels shrink. These can be applied directly to external hemorrhoids, and most creams like this will come with an attachment for the bottle for internal hemorrhoid application.
Other options for the pain include a warm bath (in a bathtub or sitz bath) for about fifteen minutes, or conversely an ice pack applied directly to the area. Anuice is a device designed to be placed on or inserted into the rectum. It contains the freezing agent of ice packs, and after a few hours in the freezer can providing numbing relief to internal or external hemorrhoids. Anuice is much more expensive than a few pieces of ice in a Ziploc baggie, but it’s also much easier to use for internal relief.
Itching and Discomfort Remedies
While internal hemorrhoids often aren't painful, almost all hemorrhoids are itchy to the point of discomfort. While some hemorrhoid creams may contain ingredients to help with this particular symptoms, many don’t. Hydrocortisone cream, which is also used for bug bites and rashes, can be a great help. As a steroid, it can also reduce swelling. However, most patients find it does little for pain. This product comes in several forms depending upon your needs: a cream, a foam or even a suppository.
Witch hazel is another common itch reliever with healing properties. Applying it with a cotton ball can help relieve itching and may provide some soothing and healing. Products like Tucks medicated pads are small wipes soaked in witch hazel, which allows you to simply wipe the area or apply it directly to the surface for extended relief. Pramoxine is a topical anesthetic found in many over the counter products, but it should only be used on external hemorrhoids. Burt's Bees Res Q Ointment contains a cocktail of herbal ingredients that many patients find to be one of the best options on the market.
Other Remedies for Treatment and Prevention
Keeping the area clean is extremely important to the healing process. Careful showers and the use of wet toilet paper or moist towelettes (wet wipes) are wonderful options for keeping the bottom fresh, clean, and healthy. Be sure the wet wipes don't contain alcohol or scent, as these can be not only painful but also counterproductive.
A change in lifestyle can also work wonders. Increasing exercise will help prevent future occurrences, and introducing more fiber and water into your diet will make bowel movements easier, putting less strain on the rectal and anal veins. However, in the case of frequently bleeding hemorrhoids, the best option is to see a doctor, as complications like anemia can result if bleeding is allowed to continue too long.