Despite hemorrhoids being so common, they can be uncomfortable to talk and learn about. However, they can be easy to treat and manage. This blog post is about natural remedies for hemorrhoids at home, so read on to learn some tips.
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are a natural part of the human anatomy, though they can sometimes become irritated, which is when they become a problem. An abnormal hemorrhoid is simply an inflamed or swollen blood vessel. It becomes inflamed under pressure or irritation to the anorectal region from exercise, abnormal bowel habits due to diet or IBS, pregnancy, straining on the toilet, etc.
Hemorrhoids come in two broad types, internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are hidden from view and line your rectum wall. They can bleed when irritated, and bright red blood on your toilet paper is a likely sign of them. External hemorrhoids are the ones most associated with itching and burning and protrusion. They are easily irritated by rough toilet paper, etc.
Both internal and external hemorrhoids can be treated at home with common and natural ingredients, which we’ll learn more about in the following sections. We’ll also talk about treatments you should avoid, but which sometimes get thrown around as home remedies for hemorrhoids.
Why Do Hemorrhoids Occur?
While hemorrhoids sometimes seem like they develop for no reason at all, there are actually a lot of different causes you might not know about. Simply spending too much time on the toilet, for example, can cause flare ups. Sitting for a long time primes the blood vessels lining the rectum wall for inflammation as blood cells pool into the area.
General bowel trouble like anxiety induced diarrhea or a diet-related case of constipation can lead to hemorrhoids by way of extra straining on the toilet. In fact, chronic constipation or diarrhea, straining during bowel movements and prolonged sitting on the toilet are the most common causes of hemorrhoid discomfort, along with pregnancy and strenuous exercises like deadlifting.
Reduce the risk of hemorrhoids occurring in the first place by eating a fiber rich diet and staying hydrated and active with regular, low-stress exercise. If you don’t have the luxury of prevention and need help with painful hemorrhoids now, let’s go over medically backed natural hemorrhoid treatments.
Natural Remedies for Treating Hemorrhoids At Home
When hemorrhoids are a problem, they can make sitting or going to the bathroom painful. These activities also take already irritated hemorrhoids and make them worse. Treating inflamed hemorrhoids with medically safe treatments like calming witch hazel, aloe vera gel or a sitz bath soak helps soothe hemorrhoids, allowing the healing process to begin.
If you try the below methods and your symptoms persist, there is bleeding or if this is your first time having hemorrhoids, you should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Witch hazel for hemorrhoids has been a popular treatment for centuries because of its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. The astringent in witch hazel shrinks tissue and helps slow mucus discharge while the anti-inflammatory reduces pain and promotes healing. Witch hazel compresses are generally medically recommended for hemorrhoids.
You can find witch hazel in many forms, typically located near the peroxide in the drug store. Many witch hazel products for minor cuts and abrasions contain alcohol, making it unsuitable for most sensitive hemorrhoid conditions, so make sure you are buying pure witch hazel while out shopping.
Once you have pure witch hazel:
- Warm the witch hazel in the microwave or on the stove top with a cotton ball or gauze pad in it.
- Apply the soaked cotton or pad like a compress to the affected area for 10-15 minutes as often as possible, typically 3-4 times a day until the hemorrhoids begin to shrink. Recovery can take between one and two weeks.
- Only apply this treatment to external hemorrhoids.
At Doctor Butler’s, we make a witch hazel hemorrhoid spray for painful, swollen hemorrhoids that narrows blood vessels to decrease swelling and discomfort. Because pure witch hazel can sometimes be too harsh for sensitive areas of the body, you may want to opt for this purpose-built solution.
Aloe Vera is a safe, natural anti-inflammatory that can be used on hemorrhoids. Be sure to get pure aloe vera and not an aloe-vera infused lotion so that you can be sure you’re not going to irritate your body. Here is some information about using aloe vera gel for hemorrhoids:
- While medically reviewed research isn’t available for its use for hemorrhoids specifically, it’s anti-inflammatory properties should be helpful for treatment.
- Aloe Vera gel has in fact been used historically to treat hemorrhoids and various skin conditions, as it may help reduce irritation.
- The National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health lists it as likely very safe for topical use, which means it shouldn’t hurt to try Aloe Vera for hemorrhoids.
Sitz Baths with Epsom Salts
A sitz bath is a localized, medically recommended soak of the affected area to relieve swelling and symptoms like itching. In other words, it’s just a warm bath for your hemorrhoids! There are sitz bath bowls you can buy that fit on your toilet, but you can also use your tub for a sitz bath treatment right away.
Sitz baths are helpful for hemorrhoids because they clean the area of any particulate, provide relief and help start the healing process, and they work even better for flare ups when the water is combined with therapeutic Epsom salt for hemorrhoids.
Here are directions for using a sitz bath with Epsom salts to soothe irritation and pain from hemorrhoids:
- Fill a sitz bath vessel or the bottom of your tub with enough warm water (not too hot!) to cover the affected area when sitting. Using hot water can negatively impact hemorrhoids.
- Make sure not to use so much water that your basin overflows when sitting down.
- If using a tub, empty one cup of Epsom salts, and if using a sitz bath basin, use about half a cup. Empty the salts into the running water as you fill your soaking device to better mix the salts in with the water.
- Sit in the water for 15 to 20 minutes for maximum effectiveness.
- After soaking, rinse your body off with clean warm water.
- Pat dry. Do not wipe so as to avoid any irritation.
- Empty the tub or basin.
Once you go back to your day, avoid irritating the area by sitting in one spot for too long. A seat cushion at your desk chair is also helpful in relieving excess pressure that can cause hemorrhoid discomfort. Doctor Butler’s makes a memory foam seat cushion specifically for hemorrhoid flare ups with a pocket for a cooling/warming gel pack for local relief.
How Not to Treat Hemorrhoids at Home
Pure Essential Oils
Pure, undiluted essential oils like Tea Tree Oil are too strong for treating hemorrhoids. It can create reactions, allergies and sensitivities. Speak to an herbalist or a doctor about the medically safe usage and potency of essential oil treatments, and if you are new to natural remedies for hemorrhoids it is best to use a professionally developed formulation of essential oil-infused treatments.
Doctor Butler’s Advanced Hemorrhoid Cream highlights the efficacy of natural ingredients like Horse Chestnut, Turmeric, Ginseng and Sunflower Oil in a proctologist developed over the counter formula. It contains an optimal blend of essential oils mixed with prescription strength pain relief for instant soothing and long term healing, without the use of parabens or chemical preservatives.
If you do use essential oils for hemorrhoids, they must be diluted in a carrier oil like coconut, almond, olive or another oil for topical use before application. Be sure to properly research the essential oil product and the brand behind it before purchasing as these treatments are not monitored by the FDA.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar sometimes gets brought up as a natural topical treatment for hemorrhoids, but this isn’t a medically recommended treatment. Again, this natural treatment is too potent for use on sensitive areas and may cause symptoms to worsen as direct treatment can irritate the area.
Reducing Future Hemorrhoid Flare-Ups
Natural treatments such as a sitz bath soak or a witch hazel compress are effective, natural and relatively easy treatments for hemorrhoids. Pure witch hazel and aloe vera gel are available at most drug stores, and all that you need for a sitz bath soak is a bathtub and a little bit of your time. All three of these home treatments have helped people reduce hemorrhoid symptoms.
Hemorrhoid prevention is recommended once you get your symptoms under control. Eat right, get regular exercise and keep your trips to the toilet brief. If you’re having trouble going to the bathroom right now, try stool softeners until you can up your fiber intake. If you do continue to get flare ups, be sure to see a doctor who can tell you how your lifestyle may be triggering your hemorrhoids.
Finally, while at-home treatments sound simple enough, sometimes you may want a professionally developed product. Going professional doesn’t mean avoiding natural ingredients, and Doctor Butler’s has a great selection of witch hazel and aloe vera hemorrhoid sprays, organic chemical-free wipes, therapeutic Epsom salts and essential oil infused creams that can help you leave the pain behind!