Hemorrhoids are painful and can have a negative impact on your daily activities.1 Fortunately, there are numerous ways to treat and eliminate them, ranging from simple and easy-to-do techniques to non-surgical procedures that may look complicated, but are doable with the help of a professional.
Treating Hemorrhoids at Home
If you or someone you know is suffering from hemorrhoids, here's a piece of good news: You can treat hemorrhoids at home using any of the following techniques:
- Try a sitz bath: Coming from the German word "sitzen" meaning "to sit," a sitz bath is a warm water bath that targets your buttocks and hips and is able to treat itching, irritation and sphincter muscle spasms. If you want to try a sitz bath to treat hemorrhoids, sit in a regular bathtub with a few inches of warm water or you can buy a small plastic tub that fits over a toilet seat from a pharmacy. A 20-minute sitz bath is recommended by most experts after each bowel movement, and two to three times a day in addition.
- You may also opt for a warm soak: For some people, a 10- to 15-minute soak in a warm bath for three to four times a day works just as well in relieving painful and swollen hemorrhoids.
- Use ice bags, warm tea bags or witch hazel compress on the rectal area: Place an ice bag or warm tea bag on your rectal area to relieve hemorrhoid pain. Even better yet, you can make witch hazel compresses at home and apply them to the area for 10 to 15 minutes, three to four times a day to relieve pain.
- Use a donut pillow if you must sit down: This type of pillow helps in removing some of the direct pressure off the rectal area.
- Keep the rectal area clean: Not only does it relieve itching, it can lessen hemorrhoid infections.2
- Use a bidet instead of dry toilet paper when wiping after a bowel movement: Compared to toilet paper, bidets are an effective, less irritating and low-cost way to clean your backside after you defecate. If you don't have a bidet, use wet toilet paper or fragrance-free baby wipes to wipe, and then pat the area dry. A hair dryer may also do the trick when it comes to drying your bottom.
- Refrain from scratching the affected area: Doing so will make the problem worse.
- Avoid anti-itching creams or lotions containing ingredients with the suffix "-caine": these products contain a local anesthetic that can lead to irritation if used too frequently. Ideally, consult your physician or doctor first if you want to use topical products or any suppository-type product.
- Do not pass on the urge to defecate: when you prolong the urge to relieve yourself, there's a tendency for your to back up, causing increased pressure and straining. It might help to set a time that will help you establish regular bowel habits. Sitting on the toilet after a meal is an example.
Nonsurgical Treatments for Hemorrhoids
There are three types of non-surgical methods that can get rid of hemorrhoids. Just make sure to consult with your physician first before undergoing any of them, since there are pros and cons to each.3,4,5,6
• Rubber band ligation: This is considered to be the least invasive treatment available for hemorrhoids. Ligation is less painful and risky compared to surgery and is effective in treating internal hemorrhoids in the long term. During ligation, a rubber band is wrapped at the base of the hemorrhoid, essentially cutting off the blood flow. The constriction causes the hemorrhoid to shrink and fall off in a week.
However, rubber band ligation does not work on external hemorrhoids and is not suitable for people taking anticoagulant medication. This procedure could also lead to bleeding, pain and ulcers or open sores and may need to be repeated should you have multiple hemorrhoids.
• Infrared coagulation: Also called electrotherapy, infrared coagulation can eliminate smaller hemorrhoids. After applying a local anesthetic on the area, an infrared coagulation device is used to heat the hemorrhoid, burning the tissues, for a brief period. This causes a scar to form that blocks blood flow to the hemorrhoid.
Unfortunately, infrared coagulation has its cons. Just like rubber band ligation, several infrared coagulation procedures might be needed to treat hemorrhoids in multiple areas. The recovery period also takes a few days more and in some cases, bleeding might occur. Stool softeners might also be needed to prevent straining and reopening of the scar.
• Sclerotherapy: To get rid of the hemorrhoid, a chemical solution is injected directly into the internal hemorrhoid or in the area around it. A local reaction occurs that causes the hemorrhoid to shrink because blood flow is prevented.
Just like rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy is not recommended for people with external hemorrhoids and those taking anticoagulant medication. This method can also cause pain and bleeding and is said to be less effective than rubber band ligation. Even worse, there's a possibility that the hemorrhoids will return.