It’s estimated that around 10 million people in the US suffer from hemorrhoids every single year. However, this is just people who report having them – many more could exist, but they haven’t spoken up.
There are many questions surrounding this topic as people look to seek relief from the symptoms. One of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not you can pop hemorrhoids. This article will go in-depth discussing exactly what happens if you pop a hemorrhoid.
Can you pop a hemorrhoid?
Firstly, what is a hemorrhoid?
These fleshy lumps exist inside your rectum/anal canal and are formed when blood vessels become enlarged. Why does this happen? The most common reason is extra pressure put on this area of the body. This can happen through straining too much on the toilet, but a study from 2015 indicated that prolonged sitting is also a risk factor because of the pressure it puts on your anus.
Effectively, you have a lump in your anus that can sometimes protrude outwards – this is called a prolapsed hemorrhoid. When this happens, it can be tempting to pop the lump as you think it will reduce your symptoms and go away – much like you are inclined to pop a spot on your face.
Can you actually pop a hemorrhoid though? Technically, you can. However, it is not advised to do so.
What happens if you pop a hemorrhoid?
Remember, hemorrhoids – or piles – are enlarged blood vessels, which means they contain blood inside them. If one is popped, it will bleed.
Bleeding inside your rectum is already not a comfortable experience, but there’s a significant problem here too. The risk of infection is extremely high because of how much bacteria exists in your anus and rectal area. In fact, there have been studies looking at the risk of clostridium tetani infection in patients with hemorrhoids following surgeries. The reasoning behind this is that this bacteria finds its way out of the gut, through the rectum, and then gets into the wounded hemorrhoid.
As such, you should never intentionally pop a hemorrhoid.
What to do if you already popped a hemorrhoid?
You may have done this yourself and have found this article looking for help. Or, what tends to happen is the hemorrhoid pops itself. This can happen when excessive force is applied to the area. Perhaps you had particular difficulty going to the toilet, maybe you were riding a horse, or you may have just sat down on a hard surface too firmly.
What do you do if you are in this situation?
Again, some people consider draining hemorrhoids as they think it will shrink them down and make them disappear. Don’t do this if yours has popped – it will just be extremely painful and lead to a lot of blood loss.
Instead, elevate your anus so it is above your heart to stop the bleeding. You can do this by lying down and placing lots of cushions below your hips to lift them up. Of course, also apply clean gauze to the area to stem the bleeding.
It’s also wise to call your doctor and explain to them the situation right away. They’ll offer advice and may book you in for an appointment to check if intervention is necessary.
How do you treat hemorrhoids?
Popping or draining a hemorrhoid is not a valid treatment and will likely lead to complications.
Instead, the majority of hemorrhoids won’t require medical treatment, according to a journal entry from 2016. There are some surgical and minimally invasive treatments available, including:
- Rubber band litigation
- Laser coagulation
These treatments work in different ways but they all help to restrict blood flow to the hemorrhoid and make it die out by itself.
It’s unlikely you will need any of these treatments, instead, there are things you can use at home to help ease the symptoms and treat your hemorrhoid:
- Apply a hemoheal cream – this is what most hemorrhoid creams are classified as, and studies show that regular application can see a significant reduction in anal irritation, bleeding, pain, and swelling discomfort.
- Take an Epsom salt bath – this can be in a bathtub or sitz bath and the salts work to soothe inflammation and reduce swelling. It’s good to do this after bowel movements when your piles are at their sorest.
- Improve your toilet habits – anything you can do to make going to the toilet easier will help treat your hemorrhoid. Switch to a high-fiber diet that makes your stools softer and easier to pass. Try to use a footstool on the toilet as well, elevating your knees and putting your body into the optimal squatting position for defecating. This opens your anal canal and means you can go to the toilet with less straining.
When to see a doctor?
Usually, piles are nothing to be concerned about and you won’t need to see a doctor. However, if your hemorrhoid popped and is bleeding, you should definitely call one for guidance. Similarly, if you are in a lot of pain and can’t find any relief after trying home treatments, it’s possible you need one of the medical interventions. So, calling a doctor will help you get booked in as soon as possible.
Get help from an online doctor
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The most important takeaway is that you should never pop or drain hemorrhoids. It won’t provide any pain relief and will likely make the situation worse, increasing the risk of infections. Instead, try the home treatments listed earlier or contact a medical professional for advice.
- Sun Z, Migaly J. Review of Hemorrhoid Disease: Presentation and Management. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2016 Mar;29(1):22-9. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1055/s-0035-1568144 . PMID: 26929748; PMCID: PMC4755769.
- Peery AF, Sandler RS, Galanko JA, Bresalier RS, Figueiredo JC, et al. (2015) Risk Factors for Hemorrhoids on Screening Colonoscopy. PLOS ONE 10(9): e0139100. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0139100
- Identifying and Treating a Prolapsed Hemorrhoid, Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/prolapsed-hemorrhoid
- Lai X, Hosyanto FF, Xu L. Risk of Clostridium tetani infection in an elderly patient following hemorrhoid ligation. Journal of International Medical Research. October 2020. doi:https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0300060520963983
- Hollingshead JRF, Phillips RKSHaemorrhoids: modern diagnosis and treatmentPostgraduate Medical Journal 2016;92:4-8. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/postgradmedj-2015-133328
- Mehdi Zobeiri;Fatemeh Parvizi;Roja Rahimi;Fatemeh Heydarpour;Hamid Reza Sheikhan;Jafar Navabi;Mohammad Hosein Farzaei;. Efficacy and safety of Hemoheal cream in patients with hemorrhoids: a randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial[J]. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2021, 41(2): 301-307. Available from: 10.19852/j.cnki.jtcm.20210224.001