Will an Ice Pack Help Hemorrhoids Go Away?

Hemorrhoids are a common problem that come with a frustrating set of complications. Cold therapy applied to the region can help reduce irritating symptoms. We’ll teach you how to do so in this post, focusing on both symptoms of hemorrhoids and their causes. For example:

  • What are the best ways to use ice packs manage symptoms like itching and swelling when the hemorrhoid pain is hard to reach?
  • Can causes like constipation, straining and pressure be managed for effective prevention?

It’s important to keep in mind that effective treatments exist for both temporary comfort and long-term healing and repair. Many of these solutions are at-home remedies that can be implemented at your convenience. Cold therapy is one such treatment, and we will discuss the science behind it, pros and cons of the method, and how to successfully use it for hemorrhoid relief.

Who are we? We’re Doctor Butler’s, experts in down-there care of hemorrhoids and related conditions. We make proctologist-developed hemorrhoid ointments and complementary products to help you quickly leave the pain behind. Dr. Robert Cutler medically reviews all of the information here.

What are Hemorrhoids?

Put simply, hemorrhoids are swollen veins in and around your lower rectum and anus. While these veins are always present, they are not always swollen and irritated, a condition that is caused by additional pressure being placed on the perianal area. This pressure can be caused by constipation, pregnancy, lifting heavy objects, inactivity or prolonged periods of sitting – anything that places extra strain on that region is at risk of triggering your hemorrhoids. 

Hemorrhoid flare-ups can remain internal, generally causing less noticeable symptoms, as the hemorrhoids are still protected by the thicker lining of the mucosa. Internal hemorrhoids may also prolapse, protruding through the anus and protracting spontaneously or by being manually pushed back inside. These protrusions may cause itching, bleeding, irritation or a feeling that your bowel movement is stuck1 (incomplete evacuation2). They can also make it difficult to clean the perianal area properly.

External hemorrhoids are often visible, appearing as a small blue or purplish lump near the anus. They are painful, and if a blood clot forms within the hemorrhoid (becoming thrombosed), it increases pressure on the sensitive skin of the anal lining, causing more acute pain, swelling, bleeding and severe discomfort. External hemorrhoids may lead to anal fissures, another source of anal pain exacerbated by bowel movements. 

The Science Behind Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is a pain relief technique that has been used for centuries3 as a result of its analgesic and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Any means for withdrawing heat from the body is considered under the cold therapy umbrella, including ice, cold water immersion, cold air and in more recent times, cryo pneumatic devices. With a main goal of reducing core and tissue temperature and altering blood flow, the downstream effect of cold therapy (a lessened sense of pain4) is what makes it the recommended home care treatment for a number of different injuries and conditions, and especially hemorrhoids in our case.

When your body is in pain, the immune system reacts by generating an inflammatory response in the affected area in an attempt to mitigate the threat (be it injury, pathogens, damaged cells, toxins, etc.)5. This increase in cellular and molecular interactions serves as a defense mechanism to minimize further injury and encourage repair6. Unfortunately, inflammation can cause a host of its own symptoms, including swelling, heat and pain7

Applying cold to a pain site leads to vasoconstriction, when the volume of your blood vessels decreases, thus reducing blood flow to the area. Reduction in blood flow to the injury curbs the induction of inflammation and the onset of its accompanying symptoms. Hemorrhoids themselves are a form of inflammation, as your body attempts to manage pressure or strain placed on the lower rectum. Cold therapy (via ice pack or cold pack) to treat hemorrhoids serves dual purposes, numbing any immediate pain while working to slow the inflammation that’s causing it.

Pros and Cons of Ice Packs for Hemorrhoids

Does ice help hemorrhoids? As you learned above, icing an injury is an effective means to slowing inflammation. In the case of hemorrhoids, inflammation is behind much of the swelling, redness and pain you may experience. Ice packs will shrink hemorrhoids by reducing swelling (due to vasoconstriction). Numbing the affected area also helps target the acute pain of external or thrombosed hemorrhoids, providing instant relief. 

An ice pack for hemorrhoids or a hemorrhoids cold compress is an accessible treatment for anyone to employ. Can you put ice on hemorrhoid affected skin? Not directly! In the absence of a traditional ice pack, any frozen item wrapped in a towel can be utilized for the purposes of icing. Without properly wrapping or placing a barrier between the ice pack and the affected skin, there is some risk of developing burns or even frostbite, but this can be avoided with proper care. 

While ice packs can help minimize swelling and may temporarily shrink hemorrhoids, they are only a temporary solution. The discomfort caused by the cold itself may not be for everyone, as this can sometimes feel worse than the initial hemorrhoid symptoms you’re attempting to cease. Icing can also pose logistical issues if you’re hoping to treat hemorrhoids on the move.

How to Properly Use an Ice Pack for Hemorrhoids

While an ice pack is recommended specifically for its ease of use, there are still some things to keep in mind before beginning treatment. Read below for step-by-step instructions on how to apply an ice pack to hemorrhoid symptoms.

We recommend getting an ice gel pack that has the ability to be both frozen and microwaved. This will allow you to follow up cold therapy with hot therapy, which we’ve found to be more thorough in its treatment.

  1. It’s a good idea to clean the affected area before treatment even though ice packs won’t be put directly on skin. This will help to reduce any irritation causing residue or fecal matter. Consider using wipes or a sitz bath to help cleanse the sensitive or irritated skin.
  2. Wear breathable clothing. Jeans may be too thick for the therapy to be effective. Do not use an ice pack without clothing.
  3. Place the ice pack on a seat and sit down. Put a paper towel or thin cloth over the ice pack if you’d like. Apply to the affected area gently for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove and allow the area to warm up before reapplying (this does not mean alternate between cold and heat therapy; the skin should simply return to room temperature before any necessary reapplication).
  5. Continue cold therapy until you’ve reduced hemorrhoid swelling.
  6. Once swelling has gone down, heat a room temperature gel pack in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. Heat therapy helps keep healthy blood flowing to the affected area, starting the hemorrhoid healing process.
  7. Continue using the gel packs for as long as comfortable.
  8. Wash gel packs as needed.

Remember, cold therapy offers instant relief for pain caused by swelling and hot therapy helps sooth the area and keep healthy blood flowing. Combining this treatment with additional remedies helps target multiple symptoms for more effective at-home care. 

Other Effective Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

There are a number of other at-home methods that can be employed to relieve hemorrhoid symptoms. Combining these with the powerful pain relief of cold therapy is a safe bet for how to quickly treat hemorrhoids at home. Read on to learn how these additional remedies compliment one another for accessible and affordable at-home hemorrhoid care. 

  • Sitz Baths – Filling your tub with 3-4 inches of warm water and epsom salt letting your anus soak for 15-20 minutes will help relieve pain and itching. This is also a gentle method for keeping the infected area clean without rubbing or wiping that risks further irritating the hemorrhoid. Using a sitz bath before or even between cold therapy enhances the relief of multiple symptoms. 
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Creams – Where cold therapy is time sensitive and may be difficult to employ while traveling or outside the home, OTC creams are a convenient way to continue treating hemorrhoids even when you’re on the go. Stagger treatment between the two to stay relieved. Many OTCs contain ingredients that are able to chemically stimulate vasoconstriction8 in the same manner as ice packs, minus the need to stay put. Make sure the creams you choose contain lidocaine, pramoxine or phenylephrine hydrochloride, ingredients known for their ability to numb painful symptoms and shrink hemorrhoids. 
  • Witch hazel – Sometimes found in OTC creams or medicated wipes and sprays, witch hazel is a powerful astringent in its own right with an anti-inflammatory effect on hemorrhoids. The tannins contained within the extract cause your skin to contract, achieving the same reduction in swelling as cold therapy via vasoconstriction. We recommend using a hemorrhoid product with diluted witch hazel and not pure 100% witch hazel because it can be harsh on broken, irritated skin from a hemorrhoid.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Home remedies for hemorrhoids are an important part of prevention and care. Using a combined regimen of at-home treatment methods, paired with proper cleaning and diet and exercise changes should produce improvement in symptoms. If your hemorrhoids continue to cause you pain, if the pain increases, or if the swelling and bleeding fail to subside after treating for two weeks, it is important to seek medical attention. There is no universal treatment, and different strategies may be effective at different times. Hemorrhoids that persist or symptoms that worry you are always worth running by a doctor to ensure they are not indicative of larger issues that may be occurring.

Say Goodbye to Discomfort with Doctor Butler’s Solutions

Do ice packs help hemorrhoids? Yes! As we learned, there are many ways to utilize this strategy. Cold therapy on the whole is an effective means for fighting the itching, pain and irritation we know are the result of swelling and inflammation. Ice packs, cold compresses and gel packs can be applied directly for instant pain relief.

Over-the-counter creams and ointments contain ingredients that mimic the effects of cold therapy and boost the results of each when utilized in tandem. Sitz baths and wipes ensure cleanliness and promote healing. Doctor Butler’s is ready to make sure you stay cool as ice even in the face of flare-ups, so start tackling those symptoms with our array of hemorrhoid products today!


“Best Help Ever! This product is better than the prescription my doctor gave. I’m sticking with what works.”

Maryann S. Verified Reviewer


  • 1. (2020). Diseases and Conditions: Hemorrhoids [Review of Diseases and Conditions: Hemorrhoids ]. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/hemorrhoids-expanded-version#:~:text=Internal%20hemorrhoids%20are%20covered%20with,very%20different%20symptoms%20and%20treatments.
  • 2. Lohsiriwat V. (2012). Hemorrhoids: from basic pathophysiology to clinical management. World journal of gastroenterology, 18(17), 2009–2017. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v18.i17.2009
  • 3. Cooper, S. M., & Dawber, R. P. (2001). The history of cryosurgery. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 94(4), 196–201. https://doi.org/10.1177/014107680109400416
  • 4. Algafly, A. A., & George, K. P. (2007). The effect of cryotherapy on nerve conduction velocity, pain threshold and pain tolerance. British journal of sports medicine, 41(6), 365–369. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2006.031237
  • 5. Medzhitov R. (2010). Inflammation 2010: new adventures of an old flame. Cell, 140(6), 771–776. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2010.03.006
  • 6. Chen, L., Deng, H., Cui, H., Fang, J., Zuo, Z., Deng, J., Li, Y., Wang, X., & Zhao, L. (2017). Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs. Oncotarget, 9(6), 7204–7218. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23208
  • 7. Takeuchi, O., & Akira, S. (2010). Pattern recognition receptors and inflammation. Cell, 140(6), 805–820. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2010.01.022
  • 8. Topp, R., Ledford, E. R., & Jacks, D. E. (2013). Topical menthol, ice, peripheral blood flow, and perceived discomfort. Journal of athletic training, 48(2), 220–225. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-48.1.19

About Robert Cutler, D.O.

Dr. Robert Cutler has performed duties as a specialist in the field of Proctology over 30 years as a practicing physician. Over this time, he has had great success integrating patient care from both an efficiency standpoint and as a practical approach to holistic and preventative medicine.

Dr. Cutler also performs FDA approved Clinical Trials and has had formal research training in Human Subject Assurance Training, OHRP/NIH and Good Clinical Practice for Investigators, Quintiles. Dr. Cutler continues to work on creating more affordable solutions to help people who are affected by ano-rectal problems as well as various chronic or acute skin issues.

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