Are you considering home remedies for your hemorrhoids? If you want a natural remedy to help shrink them down, here’s what you need to know.
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“First, realize that hemorrhoids normally do not hurt, but may bleed painlessly, says colorectal surgeon Massarat Zutshi, MD.
She says that if they do hurt, the hemorrhoids may have moved to the outside of the anal canal (or prolapsed) during a bowel movement and become enlarged. If, in addition, hemorrhoids develop a blood clot, (or become thrombosed), they can become especially painful.
There are many ways people may try to shrink down painful hemorrhoids, which might be helpful at best or harmful at worst.
But before you try home treatments, proper diagnosis is critical. “It’s important to see your doctor for bleeding, especially if you have never had hemorrhoids before,” Dr., Zutshi says.
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Here are seven possible home treatments for hemorrhoids. Dr. Zutshi comments about each:
1. Sitz baths
Generally, experts recommend people with painful hemorrhoids sit in warm water for 15 minutes, several times a day — especially after a bowel movement.
Doctor’s advice: Yes, this is one of the best treatments. A sitz bath is generally available at a local pharmacy; this small bowl fits right over your toilet and offers a convenient way to soak and soothe the area.
2. Witch hazel
Witch hazel is reputed to reduce pain, itching and bleeding until hemorrhoids fade out. There isn’t much scientific support for its use but it does contain tannins and oils that may help bring down inflammation and slow bleeding. Supporters say it tightens the skin as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Doctor’s advice: It’s OK to use directly on the hemorrhoids.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Some people say that apple cider vinegar can bring instant relief to hemorrhoids, reducing itching and pain.
Doctor’s advice: Don’t use this remedy as it may burn the skin with overuse and exacerbate problems.
4. Psyllium husk
Psyllium husk is a supplement that helps increase your fiber intake, and softens stools to make them easier to pass. Be careful not to increase fiber too much, too quickly, as it may also cause gas or stomach cramping.
Doctor’s advice: Use this to soften stool and make bowel movements more regular. It won’t affect hemorrhoids at a local level, but it does regulate your bowels. Be sure to drink plenty of water if you take this supplement.
5. Aloe vera
The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera may help soothe inflammation of hemorrhoids. Although research isn’t available for its use for hemorrhoids specifically, it has shown some benefit for other inflammatory skin conditions.
Doctor’s advice: This is safe to try if it’s pure aloe (and not in a cream with other ingredients).
6. Tea tree oil
Some people say the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil may reduce swelling and itching caused by hemorrhoids. Some early research found that a gel made with tea tree oil decreased symptoms, but studies are lacking.
Doctor’s advice: Don’t try this remedy as it isn’t well studied.
7. Epsom salts and glycerin
This less-known home treatment can help painful hemorrhoids. Use these simple ingredients to make a compound that you apply directly to the inflamed area:
- Mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts with 2 tablespoons of glycerin
- Apply the mixture to a gauze pad and place it on the painful area
- Leave this application on the area for 15-20 minutes
- Repeat every four to six hours until the pain eases
Doctor’s advice: Yes, I recommend this treatment.
Remember, to help treat and prevent hemorrhoids it’s important to eat enough fiber (25 grams a day for women, 38 grams a day for men) and to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. These dietary changes can make stool easier to pass and keep the problem from recurring.
RELATED: Hemorrhoids Fact Sheet