Haemorrhoids, or piles, are a common problem for people throughout the world. They occur when veins in the anus and rectum swell, causing discomfort, itchiness and sometimes discharge of fluids, including blood.
Though haemorrhoids typically clear up on their own in a relatively-short time and don’t always necessitate a visit to the doctor, they’re still a painful nuisance for those who suffer from them.
Here are a few simple ways to treat haemorrhoids at home:
1. Try a Sitz bath
Sitting in warm water for around 15 minutes a few times each day is generally agreed to be one of the best home treatments for haemorrhoids. The warm water can help soothe irritation around the anus and rectum, especially if Epsom salts are added.
Doctors recommend using a Sitz bath for this process, and advise haemorrhoid sufferers to try it after every bowel movement. Unscented soap should be used (without scrubbing). Sitz baths can be bought at most local pharmacies or online and are a convenient way to soak the affected area without the need for a full-body bath.
After soaking is complete, the area should be patted dry rather than rubbed in order to avoid further irritation. A hair-dryer can also be used.
2. Cold compresses the region
A second particularly-effective treatment involves the use of an ice pack or cold compress to help reduce haemorrhoid swelling. Wrap the ice pack or cold compress in a paper towel or cloth first – holding an uncovered pack to the skin can be dangerous. Try this several times a day for 15 minutes at a time to gain some relief from haemorrhoids.
3. Wear the right clothing
Keep your anal region dry and clean by wearing loose, breathable cotton clothing rather than tight-fitting clothes made from materials like polyester. Loose cotton underwear should also be worn. Keeping the anal region aired-out helps avoid the build up of moisture, which only worsens haemorrhoid symptoms. Also avoid using detergents with perfume in them, or fabric softeners, until the haemorrhoids are gone.
4. Try psyllium husk
Improving your fibre intake is key to avoiding constipation and more haemorrhoids.
A supplement like psyllium husk helps increase fibre intake while also softening your stool, making bowel movements easier. Always drink plenty of water when using supplements, and don’t overdo it.
5. Use witch hazel
Witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory that can reduce swelling. It can be bought as a liquid and applied to haemorrhoids directly, but it’s also present in various anti-itch products (wipes and soaps).
6. Try ointments or medication
If natural products aren’t working, you can purchase various creams and ointments from pharmacies which provide relief from pain and itchiness straight away, and also combat swelling. Painkillers can also help get you through the worst periods of haemorrhoid suffering.
If the product you’re using contains hydrocortisone, however, stop using it after a week at most.
7. Give aloe vera a try
Aloe vera is another product while naturally tackles haemorrhoids. Like witch hazel, it’s anti-inflammatory and helps reduce swelling and irritation. It can be purchased as a gel and occurs in a variety of products, but only pure aloe vera should be used on haemorrhoids as many other products also contain perfumes, which can cause irritation.
8. Stool softeners
Stool softeners are useful for reducing constipation. They work to soften stool and make it easier to pass in a bowel movement. Softeners come in liquid, powder and capsule form, and can be taken several times each day.
9. Use tea tree oil (in moderation)
Like witch hazel and aloe vera, tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce swelling and itchiness around the anal and rectal areas. Studies have suggested that tea tree oil certainly helps combat haemorrhoid symptoms, but there isn’t currently a lot of evidence to support its usage, and doctors are unlikely to prescribe it.
10. Watch what you eat and drink
Bump up the fiber. It softens your stools and makes them move through your body more easily. You’ll find it in beans, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fresh fruits and veggies. You may also want to try a supplement if you can’t get enough from foods. Add fiber slowly to help avoid gas and bloating.
Drink lots of fluids. Stay well hydrated to keep stools soft so they’re easier to pass. Water is the best choice. Drink plenty throughout the day. Prune juice is a natural laxative and can help you go.
11. Stay active
Stay as active as possible when you have haemorrhoids. Go for a walk, or do some simply housework that involves being on your feet. Sitting for long periods only worsens the symptoms of haemorrhoids, and if you are sitting, try using a cushion or pillow to ease the swelling.
12. Maintain good habits in the bathroom
Finally, taking time to consider the way in which you use the bathroom (and the time you spend there) can ultimately be the most straightforward way to treat haemorrhoids at home, as well as preventing them in future.
For a start, don’t spend too long on the toilet. Try to incorporate toilet time into your daily routine, and if nothing happens after a short time, don’t try forcing it.
On the flip side, don’t hold it in, either. If you need to go, just go – waiting for a more convenient time can just put added strain on the affected region. And when you’re done, be gentle when wiping. If the toilet paper you’re using causes more irritation, try dampening it or using wipes.
Also ensure that you breathe regularly when passing stool. Many people hold their breath when pushing, which only leads to more pain and possible bleeding. Breathe as normally as possible when making a bowel movement. You can also try sitting in more of a squat position when on the toilet to help your bowels move more freely – prop your feet up higher with something and keep your knees raised.