Although hemorrhoids can progress to the point where surgery is required to get rid of them, most of the time they can easily be treated with non-surgical remedies. If you prefer to avoid the side effects associated with the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications, here are 9 home remedies that can help you heal your hemorrhoids fast naturally.
- Witch Hazel
This is an astringent extracted from the leaves and bark of the witch-hazel shrub. It was used by Native Americans as part of a variety of medicinal purposes and is a component in number of beauty and healthcare products.
Witch hazel contains tannins, antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good solution for treating the swelling and inflammation caused by hemorrhoids.
You can apply the fluid directly to the hemorrhoids by soaking a cotton ball with witch hazel and cleaning the anal area three times per day. Another option is to get medicated wipes made with witch hazel and use them in lieu of toilet paper. If you can’t find this type of medicated wipe in your area, you can make your own by pouring a bottle of witch hazel into a plastic container of regular wipes.
- Sitz Bath
Also known as a hip bath, a sitz bath involves sitting in a few inches of tepid water with your legs bend upwards at the knees and slightly open for about 15 to 20 minutes. This can be accomplished by drawing a bath with only a few inches of water or sitting in a large basin. There are also seats specially designed for this type of soaking available at medical supply stores.
The water helps alleviate itching and pain. You can add a small amount of salt, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, or tea tree oil to increase the therapeutic benefits of this bath.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, also called melaleuca oil, is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifoila plant. Like witch hazel, it has been used for centuries as a medicinal treatment for a variety of skin disorders and infections. The oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling and itching caused by hemorrhoids.
To use tea tree oil, apply a small amount to a cotton ball and wipe the affected area. The oil can be a bit strong and may sting, so it’s recommended that you combine it with a little bit of olive or castor oil.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is well known for its soothing effect on sunburned skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce skin irritation and make hemorrhoids easier to live with while they are healing. You can purchase aloe vera gel in a bottle, but many health food stores also sell the leaves from the plant that contain the medicinal substance.
If you have external hemorrhoids, simply apply the aloe vera directly to the anal region. This should provide immediate relief from itching and inflammation. Another option is to put a few leaves of the aloe vera plant into the freezer to cool them down and then insert one of the leaves into the anus to distribute the aloe vera to internal hemorrhoids. Be certain to remove the thorns first or it could get very uncomfortable.
- Lavender Oil
This is another beneficial essential oil that can stop the burning, itching, and swelling associated with hemorrhoids. It is distilled from the lavender plant and has antibacterial and pain-relieving properties.
Place a few drops on a cotton ball or Q-Tip and apply directly to the anus and surrounding area. Combine with another essential oil like tea tree or olive oil to boost the healing effects. Another option is to add a little bit of this oil to your sitz bath. In either case, apply two to three times per day to enjoy the desired effects.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an astringent with antibacterial properties. Though it may sound like using this vinegar on hemorrhoids would aggravate them, it is actually a good solution for reducing swelling and irritation fast because it helps reduce the size of blood vessels.
Apply the vinegar by soaking a cotton ball with it and gently pressing it against the hemorrhoids. It may sting a little, but that should pass and the itching and irritation caused by the hemorrhoids should also go away after a short period of time. Reapply as needed to obtain relief from symptoms.
You can also drink apple cider vinegar to treat hemorrhoids from the inside out. Mix one teaspoon of the vinegar to at least 8 ounces of water and drink twice a day. There are also apple cider vinegar tablets available at natural food stores or online.
The rutabaga is a root vegetable that’s a cross between a turnip and cabbage. It contains quite a few vitamins and minerals that are good for the body, but it can also help heal hemorrhoids.
First, rutabagas contain 9 grams of fiber per medium-sized vegetable. Eating one a day can help you get enough fiber to promote regularity in bowel movements and ensure stools are soft enough to pass. This can reduce your chances of worsening your existing hemorrhoids.
Additionally, you can make a poultice out of the vegetable that will help reduce swelling and inflammation. Peel the vegetable and boil it until soft, drain well, mash slightly and then wrap the concoction in gauze. Place the poultice on the hemorrhoid while still warm and wear overnight. The hemorrhoid should be significantly reduced. If not, repeat for a second night.
- Zinc Oxide
Zinc oxide is a chemical found in many beauty products including baby powder. It has antibacterial and skin conditioning properties that alleviate itching and protect the skin from further damage.
A good way to use this is to purchase a cream designed for diaper rashes and apply it to the area. It should provide relieve from burning, itching, and irritation. Since it’s made for babies, the cream shouldn’t cause any side effects.
- Olive Oil
Olive oil is a well known skin conditioner found in many lotions and creams. It contains antioxidants that protect skin from damage caused by free radicals and contains anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate the symptoms caused by external hemorrhoids. It can also promote increase elasticity in the blood vessels, which may help heal the hemorrhoids by reducing their size.
Mix a little bit of olive oil to the juice of plum leaves and apply liberally to the site of the hemorrhoids two to three times per day. This should alleviate pain and swelling. Consuming a small amount of olive oil will also reduce inflammation caused by internal hemorrhoids as well as promote health bowel movements.
3 Bonus Remedies
Ice is a highly recommended home remedy. It constricts blood vessels, making this a great option for alleviating swelling caused by hemorrhoids. The ice’s coolness may also feel good against burning or inflamed skin. Simply place an icepack or ice wrapped in a cloth to the anal region for 10 minutes three times per day until your hemorrhoids shrink. If you don’t have ice, wrap bagged frozen vegetables in a tea towel and place on the hemorrhoids for 20 minutes three times a day. Following up with a warm compress for 10 to 20 minutes may help stimulate circulation and encourage the hemorrhoid to shrink.
- Get more fiber
Fiber helps keep stool moist by drawing water to the matter, which can make them easier to pass. Getting adequate fiber each day as well as drinking plenty of water will ensure you don’t have to suffer from dry stools that cause you to strain during bowel movements and putting undue pressure on the hemorrhoidal veins. Fiber also reduces bleeding, inflammation, and minimizes the enlargement of the growths.
It is recommended that you consume at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. You can get this from a variety of sources such as high-fiber foods like beans, broccoli, oat bran, fruit, and whole grains as well as supplements such as Metamucil, Fiber Con, and Citrucel. Increase your fiber intake slowly to avoid gas and bloating and drink plenty of water to prevent constipation.
- Horse Chestnut
Horse chestnut has been used for thousands of years in Europe and other places to treat issues such as arthritis and rheumatism. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate the swelling, irritation, and burning caused by hemorrhoids quickly. It also strengthens veins and stops capillaries from breaking down, which can help stop hemorrhoids from forming again. A study published in 1997 involving horse chestnut found that all 80 participants had reduced swelling, pain, and bleeding after two weeks of consuming 40 mg of aescin (a horse chestnut extract) three times per day.
In addition to orally consuming products that contain horse chestnuts or its extract aescin, you can use the substance topically by purchasing ointments and creams with it as an active ingredient. Apply to site of the hemorrhoids a few times per day until they go away. Be aware that these creams may make your hemorrhoids bleed if they already are, but this only temporary.
Making simple adjustments to your lifestyle can go a long way towards alleviating hemorrhoid symptoms. Try these remedies first and then escalate to others if you don’t get relief.
- Practice good hygiene: Bathe daily and clean the anal area during your shower or bath using plain warm water. Avoid using soap (or use plain soap with no perfume or dyes) to avoid aggravating the sensitive skin. Gently dry the area with your towel or a hair dryer after bathing.
- Avoid using toilet paper: When wiping after bowel movements, use plain toilet paper that’s been wetted or gentle non-perfumed, non-alcoholic wipes.
Mild hemorrhoids will typically go away after using these treatments for a week. Talk to your doctor if your hemorrhoids don’t respond to the treatment or you begin experiencing severe bleeding or pain.
The best treatment for hemorrhoids is to avoid getting them in the first place. However, the growths respond well to treatment, but the type of treatment you’ll need depends on what grade of hemorrhoids you have. Here’s a description of the different grades of hemorrhoids and the various types of treatment options available.
There are four grades of hemorrhoids. The severity of the growths determines which grade you have and the type of treatment that may be needed to get rid of them.
- Grade 1: The hemorrhoid protrudes into the anal canal but doesn’t obstruct it. There may be minor bleeding as stool scrapes and irritates the growth.
- Grade 2: Straining during bowel movements causes the hemorrhoid to bulge past the anal verge. However, once straining has ceased, the hemorrhoid returns to its previous non-obstructive position.
- Grade 3: The hemorrhoid prolapses past the anal verge with or without straining and must be pushed aside to allow stool to pass.
- Grade 4: The hemorrhoid permanently prolapses from the body and may become thrombosed or strangulated.
Hemorrhoids can be treated in a number of ways. Most remedies focus on alleviating pain and itching while others are designed to help shrink or eliminate the hemorrhoids altogether. You should start with the least invasive treatment that addresses your specific needs and then move onto to other remedies as needed.
This type of medication is inserted directly into the rectum. The medicine is delivered to the hemorrhoids as the person’s body temperature melts the capsule. This is a quick way to alleviate itching, inflammation, and pain associated with hemorrhoids. Some suppositories also contain medicinal substances designed to encourage the growth to shrink faster.
Laxatives and Stool Softeners
To avoid aggravating the hemorrhoids, a doctor may recommend that you take a laxative or stool softener to help you with your bowel movements. Laxatives stimulate the rectum and essentially force it to evacuate the bowels. This can be beneficial for people whose hemorrhoids are caused by persistent constipation. Ensuring stool is passed on a regular basis will reduce the pressure on the hemorrhoid veins and allow them to heal.
Stool softeners, on the other hand, are beneficial for people who suffer from stools that are hard to pass. These medications work by drawing water into the rectum which softens the stool. The result is less straining during bowel movements and reduced aggravation of the hemorrhoid veins. Docusate sodium is a commonly recommended stool softener.
As a treatment for severe inflammation inside or around the anus, a doctor may prescribe a cream containing corticosteroids. These creams are created using steroid hormones that help reduce inflammation, redness, and swelling. The medication works by narrowing the blood vessels in the skin and thereby shrinking the hemorrhoids.
While these creams can be very effective at treating the symptoms of hemorrhoids, and possibly helping hemorrhoids heal faster, they might cause skin thinning at the place of application. It’s essential that you avoid using the cream for more than a week at a time unless your doctor specifies otherwise.
There are a variety or over-the-counter and prescriptions medications that can help alleviate the symptoms associated with having hemorrhoids. In addition to stool softeners and corticosteroids, there are pain medications that can reduce discomfort. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is frequently recommended for pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, as well as aspirin can reduce swelling in addition to minimizing pain. A physician may also prescribe lidocaine or hydrocortisone.
For those with grade 2 and 3 hemorrhoids, the doctor may inject a medication into the vein to make the growth harden and then cut off the blood supply to force the hemorrhoid to shrink.
If conventional non-surgical therapies do not work or the hemorrhoids have begun interfering with your life, your doctor may recommend you undergo a surgical procedure to eliminate the growth. There are a few different procedures that may be used depending on the severity of the hemorrhoids and your personal preference.
- Rubber Band Ligation
In this procedure, the doctor cuts the hemorrhoid off from the blood supply by placing small rubber bands around the base. This causes the growth to shrink and scar tissue is typically left behind during the healing process. As noted previously, the doctor may inject a chemical medication to force the blood pooled in the growth to coagulate. This is called sclerotherapy. If this occurs, the hemorrhoid will actually fall off and scar tissue will help seal the vein.
It usually takes two to four treatments to completely eliminate the hemorrhoid, and these treatments are typically done about six to eight weeks apart. Generally, there won’t be any side effects or complications, but there is a chance of bleeding and infection.
Alternatively, the doctor may use liquid nitrogen to freeze the hemorrhoid, and other medical professionals may use lasers or infrared to force the blood to coagulate. However, these procedures do nothing to prevent the hemorrhoids from forming again.
To treat large and/or prolapsed hemorrhoids, a medical professional may surgically excise them from the rectum. This involves cutting out the entire section of the blood vessel where the hemorrhoid has formed. It is 95 percent effective, but also extremely painful. However, most people can go home after the procedure, and the pain can be managed using medication. However, you can expect to be away from work for about 7 to 10 days.
- Stapled Hemorrhoidopexy
This is a fairly new procedure that involves anchoring the hemorrhoid in place by stapling it to the rectal walls. This procedure has a few benefits over the previous options. It can be performed as a day surgery, recovery time is shorter, and no follow up surgeries are required. However, it’s more painful than rubber band ligation and the hemorrhoids are more likely to come back.
As you can see, there are many different ways to treat hemorrhoids. It’s best to discuss your options with a medical professional to determine which ones are best for you.
How to Avoid Worsening Your Hemorrhoids
When you have hemorrhoids, preventing them from getting worse will be an important part of the healing process. The first thing to do is to reduce environmental irritants. For instance, do not wear a thong or have anal sex while you have hemorrhoids. In fact, you should wear plain white cotton underwear to help wick away excess moisture and allow for adequate ventilation.
Additionally, do not use regular toilet paper to clean up after bowel movements. Instead, use pre-moistened wipes such as Tucks or Preparation H, baby wipes, or moistened toilet paper (use white not colored). This will help reduce skin irritation.
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time, as both of these activities put pressure on the pelvis and rectum. Place a pillow underneath your bum if you must sit for long periods of time and sit for a few minutes every hour if you have to stand. Do not lift heavy objects as the strain may aggravate the hemorrhoidal veins.
Lying down for a day or two can help take pressure off the hemorrhoidal veins as well, especially if you pregnant. Lay down or sleep on your side if you’re pregnant. If not, lay on your stomach or back with a pillow under your hips to reduce pressure in the pelvis.
Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to treating hemorrhoids and the key to avoid getting them again after you successfully get rid of them. Here are a few tips for minimizing your risk of developing hemorrhoids.
- Consume Plenty of Fiber: Fiber softens the stool and makes it easier to pass. Getting adequate fiber each day is critical to preventing hemorrhoids. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends consuming 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. So for someone on a 2,000 calorie diet, 28 grams of fiber is the minimum amount needed for a healthy diet and gastrointestinal tract. You can get fiber from a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Take Fiber Supplements: You can also get fiber from over-the-counter supplements such as Metamucil and Citrucel. Be certain to add fiber in incremental doses to minimize bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Also drink plenty of water with supplements or else you may become constipated.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Water intake is also critical for keeping stools soft. You can consume all the fiber you want, but your stools will still be hard if you’re dehydrated. Strive to drink six to eight glasses of water or other liquids per day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine because they are dehydrating. However, feel free to supplement you water intake by consuming fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelon and cantaloupe.
- Avoid Straining During Bowel Movement: Let your bowels pass the stool naturally. That’s what it was designed to do. You should also avoid holding your breath while evacuating your bowels as this can increase the amount of pressure you put on your pelvis and rectum.
- Don’t Wait to Go: As soon as you feel the urge, go to the bathroom. Unnecessarily holding stool in your rectum puts pressure on the hemorrhoidal veins. Additionally, the longer stool stays in the rectum, the more likely your body will attempt to extract water from the stool, which can make it dry and hard. You are particularly at risk of this happening if you’re dehydrated because your body will attempt to extract water from every source possible.
- Do Sit for Too Long: When in the bathroom, do your business and go. Sitting on the toilet for too long can strain the veins in your bowels. This is because the muscles in your rectum relax to allow the stool to pass. Coupled with gravity, this pressure only aggravates the veins and weakens them. In general, though, it’s best to avoid sitting for a long time or support your hips, pelvis, and rectum by sitting on a pillow when you do.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercise helps stimulate the bowels, which is excellent for reducing or preventing constipation. It also helps alleviate the pressure caused by standing or sitting for long periods of time and can help you lose weight if you’re carrying a few extra pounds. Excess weight is common contributing factor to the development of hemorrhoids.
- Soaps and Skin Conditioners: Avoid using soaps and skin conditioners that contain perfumes or dyes as this can aggravate the skin.