Whether it’s your first symptomatic hemorrhoid or you’ve been dealing with them for years, you know that a hemorrhoid flare up can be pain-inducing and uncomfortable whether sitting, standing, walking or driving. Want to take care of your hemorrhoids and get on with your life? You’ve come to the right place to find practical treatment tips!
Doctor Butler’s founder Dr. Robert Cutler is a board-certified proctologic surgeon (i.e. proctologist!) and has more than 30 years of experience helping patients find relief from hemorrhoids. His aim to make hemorrhoid care easy has led to well-loved ointments and sprays, and a vast well of knowledge that we share here in our Ask The Doctor series.
One key tip from Dr. Cutler to manage hemorrhoids? Use a cold compress between trips to the bathroom and between applications of topical medicine. Applying cold therapy to hemorrhoids is generally encouraged by proctologists because it helps manage swelling and reduces sensitivity to pain and irritation in external hemorrhoids naturally.
(If you have an internal hemorrhoid, i.e. a hemorrhoid inside of your rectum, you’d have better luck applying a flare-up protection cream like our Advanced Hemorrhoid Cream with Lidocaine. A cold compress would not be of much help for this condition.)
When you need additional relief between applications of medicated ointment, look no further than this post for tips on alleviating symptoms with cold compresses, heat therapy, sitz baths, and more natural treatments that are among the easiest home remedies for hemorrhoids.
Is Heat or Ice Better for External Hemorrhoids?
Many gel packs have the option to be frozen or microwaved in order to be used for cold or hot therapy. In the case of a hemorrhoid, you’ll most likely want to first opt for cold therapy, though heat can be useful in many situations. I’ll explain the benefits of both and when to use heat or ice for hemorrhoids.
Does Cold Therapy help treat hemorrhoids? Yes, newly swollen hemorrhoids are best treated with an ice pack. Cold therapy helps with new hemorrhoids because it slows blood flow to the area, thus reducing the amount of swelling. Additionally, the cold will numb the region in the case of pain, burning or itching to provide some immediate relief.
To apply cold therapy to a hemorrhoid, use a cold compress and apply to the area. Be sure not to put the ice pack, gel pack, or whatever cold compress you use directly on the skin as this can cause irritation. Wear light and breathable clothes (as opposed to something like denim which can prevent the cooling relief from reaching your skin).
Many varieties of ice packs are available for perineum and hemorrhoid support, and most will be relatively flat in shape considering they need to be placed under your bottom while seated. At Doctor Butler’s, we’ve developed a memory foam seat cushion with a built-in sleeve to hold these gel packs in place while you sit to make this cold therapy process easier. (Plus, it comes with two gel packs in the box!)
In summary, use cold therapy for newly swollen external hemorrhoids. It may only take minutes to feel relief though keep treating it several times a day with ice packs until the swelling goes down.
Heat therapy is helpful for external hemorrhoids once the initial swelling has been reduced. Heat dilates blood vessels and gets blood flowing, circulating healthy nutrient-filled blood to the area to help with the healing process. Additionally, the heat can simply feel good, making your bout with hemorrhoids less uncomfortable.
Heat therapy can be performed with a microwavable gel pack. Just be sure to use it over clothing and do not place it directly on your skin. Please make sure to follow all of the product manufacturer’s instructions.
Sitz baths are another form of warm therapy and a proven treatment for hemorrhoid relief, as noted in Harvard Medical School’s health blog. The warm water works similarly to heat therapy described above, helping to get the blood flowing to the region (in addition to cleaning the area) in order to swap healthy blood in for potentially old, clotted blood.
It’s further recommended that you add Epsom salt to the sitz bath water as Epsom salts are a natural anti-inflammatory. We have some Epsom salt for hemorrhoids available over at the Doctor Butler’s store that is mixed with eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils for anti-stress and soothing relief benefits.
In summary, use a form of heat therapy such as microwavable gel packs or warm sitz baths for hemorrhoids once the initial swelling has gone down. One plus of a sitz bath treatment over a gel pack is that the warm water can relax the anal sphincter and help ease muscle spasms which can contribute to constipation, a common cause of hemorrhoids.
Will Ice Packs Shrink Hemorrhoids?
Ice packs will shrink hemorrhoids; expect it to take about one to three days after starting treatment for the swelling to go down depending on the severity, though there can be instant relief in minutes from any pain due to the numbing effect of the ice pack.
Why and how does cold compression therapy work?
The reason that cold therapy (such as applying an ice pack to the area) works to shrink hemorrhoids is that it slows blood flow to hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoids are simply swollen blood vessels in the anorectal region, so applying ice to the area will help stop the swelling. This will also help to start the shrinking and healing process.
How to Ice Hemorrhoids – What You Need to Know
If you’ve ever applied ice to an injury then you’ll be familiar with what to do when treating a hemorrhoid with an ice pack. However, because you will need to sit on the ice pack, this treatment will work best if you have a flat cold gel pack versus a plastic sandwich bag with ice. If you only have ice cubes then use crushed cubes so it’s comfortable on the rectal region.
Next, take your gel pack or crushed ice and wrap it in a thin cloth such as an old t-shirt. Make sure you’re wearing light breathable clothing and place the ice pack on a chair, sit down and adjust the ice pack so it’s making contact with the affected area. Be sure that the excess moisture will not ruin the chair’s material and put a towel down if necessary.
Gel packs will be much easier to apply over the long term so consider picking some up from the drug store or online if hemorrhoids are a common occurrence for you. Having more than one gel pack means you can always keep one in the freezer, ready to swap out for your next treatment.
How Often Should You Ice Hemorrhoids?
The great thing about putting ice on hemorrhoids is that you can keep reapplying as long as it is comfortable for you. It’s an easy and effective pain reducer and won’t cause problems as long as you keep the ice pack directly off of the hemorrhoid with a layer of clothing or cloth.
Once you feel that you’ve managed the initial swelling with cold therapy, move on to heat therapy with the usage of a microwavable gel pack or a warm sitz bath. This will help to heal the hemorrhoid and promote healthy blood flow. Heat therapy should not be used until you’ve iced a hemorrhoid for one to three days or the time it takes to reduce swelling.
Additional At-Home Treatments to Find Powerful Relief from Hemorrhoid Pain
Before we wrap up, we like to answer a question we usually get regarding cold compression and hemorrhoid pain relief.
Are there any other at-home treatments I can start today for hemorrhoid pain relief?
The greatest tip we like to give in addition to the above treatment options is to tread lightly when cleaning up from a bowel movement if you have a swollen hemorrhoid. Wiping roughly with toilet paper will only increase your problems and delay the healing process. Instead, pat dry with soft toilet tissue or a soft wipe like our organic wet wipes.
If you can, take a sitz bath after each bowel movement. This will cleanse the area and provide soothing relief. A sitz bath is most effective once the initial swelling of the hemorrhoid has gone down, though it’s a much better option than irritating a new hemorrhoid by wiping it with toilet paper. If you have to pick one, opt for a sitz bath.
Once clean, you should apply a hemorrhoid cream like Doctor Butler’s Maximum Strength formula to help relieve the most uncomfortable symptoms and spur healing. If you prefer a no-touch option, try our hemorrhoid spray. These in addition to cold and heat therapy will reduce the discomfort of your hemorrhoid and speed up the treatment process.
To end this post, here is a treatment plan that can be followed. If you want more tips on things like the best diets to prevent hemorrhoids and access to Doctor Butler’s rewards, consider signing up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page. With these tips you will “Leave the Pain Behind” in no time.
Hemorrhoid Treatment Plan with Cold Compress
Step 1: Hemorrhoids cold compress for 24 hours
Step 2: Use dietary fiber supplements to regulate bowel movements
Step 3: After bowel movement, warm Sitz bath with Epsom Salts
Step 4: Wipe with a non-plastic wet wipe.
Step 5: Apply Doctor Butler’s Maximum Strength Hemorrhoid & Fissure Ointment
Step 6: Heat therapy treatment (or ice pack treatment if hemorrhoid is still newly swollen)
Step 7: Repeat steps 2-6 until symptoms are gone
Step 8: Treat with Doctor Butler’s Advanced Protection & Prevention Formula to stop recurring irritation and discomfort before it begins.
Please let us know if you have any further questions regarding anything we covered above by sending us an email or contacting our office via phone.
We thank you for reading and hope you find relief from hemorrhoid pain soon!
Doctor Butler’s can help!