While most people think hemorrhoids are abnormal, the truth is everyone has them. They are clumps of blood vessels in the anus and lower rectum that help control bowel movements.
But most people only learn about hemorrhoids when they enlarge and become problematic. Enlarged hemorrhoids, also called piles, have caused millions of people pain and irritation.
Hemorrhoids are classified into two general categories – internal (originating in the rectum) and external (originating in the anus).
Enlarged hemorrhoids can occur at any age, but the problem is more common in older people. They affect both men and women.
Piles occur due to continuous high pressure in the veins of the body, which can happen from standing or sitting for long periods of time. Pregnancy, hormonal changes, obesity, constipation, straining when passing a stool, poor diet, lifting heavy weights and a family history of hemorrhoids are some of the common risk factors.
Common symptoms of piles include a hard lump that may be felt around the anus, unsatisfactory bowel movements, bleeding after a bowel movement, mucus discharge when emptying the bowels, pain while defecating, and redness, soreness and itchiness in the area around the anus.
In the majority of cases, piles are temporary and resolve on their own without any treatment. However, you can try some lifestyle changes and home remedies to significantly reduce the discomfort and itching that many people experience.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of hemorrhoids (piles).
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
When it comes to treating and reducing the discomforts of hemorrhoids, apple cider vinegar is one of the best remedies.
Its astringent properties help shrink the swollen blood vessels and provide relief from swelling and irritation. It can be used to treat both internal and external hemorrhoids.
Always use raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar for the best results.
- For topical application, dilute the apple cider vinegar by mixing it with an equal amount of water. Soak a cotton ball in the solution, and apply it gently on the hemorrhoid. Once dry, apply coconut oil or castor oil on the area. Do this once daily.
- Alternatively, you can add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to a sitz bath and soak the affected area in it for 10 to 20 minutes, twice daily.
- To aid healing from the inside out, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it once or twice a day.
Rutin, a vitamin supplement, is another good treatment for hemorrhoids. This bioflavonoid helps strengthen the veins and reduces inflammation.
- Rutin supplements are readily available in the market. You can take 450 to 500 mg capsules twice daily, once in the morning and again in the evening. Continue for a few days to get relief.
- You can also eat foods rich in rutin, such as citrus fruits, bilberries, buckwheat and asparagus.
Note: Do not take rutin supplements during pregnancy.
3. Ice Pack
To deal with the swelling and pain associated with piles, an ice pack is a good home remedy.
The cold temperature from an ice pack will help constrict the blood vessels and reduce inflammation. It will also help alleviate the pain.
- Put some ice cubes in a sandwich baggie or wrap in a thin towel.
- Apply it to the anus for 5 to 10 minutes for fast relief.
- Do it several times a day.
Note: Do not apply ice directly on the skin.
4. Sitz Bath
A sitz bath is also beneficial for reducing the discomforts of piles. It’s a technique in which you soak only the hips and buttocks in warm water.
The moist heat helps soothe hemorrhoids and relieve painful and itchy sensations. It also helps shrink anal fissures, thus treating the cause of the problem.
- Partially fill a bathtub with some warm water. To increase its effectiveness, you can also add 1 or 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in the warm water before soaking in it. Epsom salt helps soothe the area and reduces inflammation.
- Sit in this warm water for about 15 minutes at a time.
- Do it 2 or 3 times a day and after every bowel movement.
- Pat dry gently afterwards.
You can also buy special sitz baths that you can put over your toilet seat to make soaking easier.
5. Fiber-Rich Foods
Preventing hemorrhoids is obviously preferred to treating them after they occur. You can do this by eating foods that help keep your stools soft, so you do not have to strain during a bowel movement.
Eating a high-fiber diet lowers your risk of developing piles. Dietary fiber helps create bulk in the intestines, which softens the stools and makes them easier to pass. It also reduces constipation, one of the risk factors for hemorrhoids.
A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reports that fiber shows a consistent beneficial effect in the treatment of symptomatic and bleeding hemorrhoids.
Fiber is found in numerous foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals. To increase fiber in your diet, you can also soak a 3 or 4 dried figs in water overnight and eat them the next morning. Opt to take a supplement if you can’t get enough fiber from foods.
Note: Make sure to increase your fiber intake slowly to help avoid gas and bloating.
6. Lots of Fluids
Keeping your body well hydrated can make a big difference if you suffer from persistent or recurring hemorrhoids. This lifestyle modification helps treat as well as prevent hemorrhoids.
Proper water intake helps keep stools soft and regulate your bowel movements, reducing the chances of constipation.
When it comes to healthy fluids, water is the best choice. Drink plenty throughout the day. Prune juice, a natural laxative, can also help a lot.
Avoid drinking too much caffeinated or carbonated beverages as well as alcohol, as they can cause dehydration.
7. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel has mild astringent and healing properties that help ease the discomforts of hemorrhoids, such as pain, itching and swelling.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences concluded that the flavonoids and tannins in witch hazel may help shrink the blood vessels, which tightens the skin.
- Boil 1 teaspoon of dried witch hazel in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes. Soak a cotton ball in it and dab it gently on the hemorrhoid for a couple of minutes. Do this a few times daily for several days.
- Also, you can buy prepackaged witch hazel pads and use them instead of toilet paper after a bowel movement.
8. Black Peppercorns
Though it may sound strange, black peppercorns are another effective natural treatment for hemorrhoids.
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of black peppercorns help reduce the symptoms and provide quick relief from the problem. They are also effective at healing severe and even bleeding hemorrhoids
Consume 5 or 6 black peppercorns each morning and evening on an empty stomach, until your hemorrhoid heals completely.
Note: If peppercorns cause digestive distress, discontinue use of this remedy. Also, do not take them for extended periods of time.
9. Coconut Oil
The anti-inflammatory and healing properties of coconut oil are beneficial for the treatment of both internal and external hemorrhoids.
This oil helps reduce pain and inflammation. It also shrinks the swollen blood vessels in the anal area, which in turn quickens the healing process.
- Consume 1 to 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin coconut oil daily.
- Also, keep a small jar of coconut oil in your bathroom, and apply some of the oil externally on the hemorrhoid after each bowel movement or trip to the restroom.
10. Proper Bathroom Habits
To prevent and heal hemorrhoids, it is important to practice good hygiene and bathroom habits. First and foremost, keep the anal area clean as much as possible.
- Take a shower daily and cleanse the anal area without soap, which may irritate the skin. Also, do not use perfumed or alcohol wipes.
- Wash the anal area gently with warm water after each bowel movement to get rid of irritant mucus that might have leaked out.
- After washing, dry the area carefully with cotton wool and apply some coconut oil to protect your skin.
- Use soft, wet toilet paper, and dab rather than wipe to prevent irritation.
- Limit your time on the toilet seat. If you do not have a bowel movement after a few minutes, don’t wait or exert too much strain to force it.
- When you feel like you have to go, avoid delaying a trip to the bathroom.
- Try a squat position when using the bathroom. This may help facilitate a less-strenuous bowel movement.
- Liberally apply fresh aloe vera gel on your hemorrhoids a few times a day to help ease the discomfort and reduce inflammation.
- Stool softeners may be taken to help reduce further irritation of existing hemorrhoids. Consult your health care professional to choose the right product.
- For persistent hemorrhoids, ask your doctor about performing a rubber band ligation treatment. The doctor places a rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid inside the rectum. The band cuts off circulation, and the hemorrhoid falls off within a few days.
- Get a good night’s sleep and try to reduce stress.
- Do not sit or stand for long periods of time, as it can worsen the condition. If you must sit for a long time, get up every hour and move around for at least 5 minutes.
- Choose cotton underwear. Also, wear loose underwear and clothing, so that nothing rubs against the hemorrhoid. It also helps keep the area aired out and stop moisture from building up.
- Don’t scratch, as it can damage the skin and make the irritation and itching worse.
- Sit on a cushion instead of a hard surface to help ease swelling and prevent new hemorrhoids from forming.
- If you are obese, losing weight may help reduce the incidence and severity of hemorrhoids.